What Are the Health Benefits of Dark-Red Cherries?

Luscious-looking and sweet, dark-red cherries are not only a tasty and welcome summer fruit, they’re also packed with nutritional benefits. ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that adults consume between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of fruit each day. A 1-cup serving of fresh cherries contains only 87 calories and less than half a gram of fat, making cherries a nutritious source for helping you get your daily amount of fruit.

Dark red cherries in a strainer. (Image: Upyanose/iStock/Getty Images)

High In Fiber

The fiber you eat adds bulk, making you feel fuller and reducing the risk that you consume too many calories. It also reduces the chance of constipation by helping food pass through your digestive tract. Most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet, according to Colorado State University Extension. The recommended amount of dietary fiber per day is between 21 and 38 grams. A 1-cup serving of fresh dark-red cherries contains 2.9 grams of dietary fiber, which is between 7.6 and 13.8 percent of the recommended amount.

Fabulous Flavonoids

Anthocyanins are the chemical compounds in cherries that give them their dark-red color. As antioxidant flavonoids, anthocyanins protect your body against damage from environmental toxins and free radicals, which are produced when your body breaks down food. Toxins and free radicals can speed up the aging process, as well as cause cell death and damage. In a study published in 2010 in the “Annual Review of Food Science and Technology,” anthocyanins were shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. As well, they may help prevent diseases, control obesity, and aid in treating diabetes.

Vital Vitamin C

Also a natural antioxidant, vitamin C is present in dark-red cherries. Your body uses vitamin C to help repair tissue and produce collagen. This makes vitamin C important for maintaining healthy skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and cartilage. Vitamin C is also needed for healing wounds and keeping your bones and teeth strong. The recommended dietary intake for vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women, 85 milligrams for pregnant women, 120 milligrams for breast-feeding women, and 90 milligrams for men. A 1-cup serving of fresh dark-red cherries contains 9.7 milligrams of vitamin C, which provides between 8 and almost 13 percent of the recommended dietary intake for adults.

How to Enjoy Them

For maximum health benefits, consume dark-red cherries fresh and raw. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, cherry juice and dried cherries have a similar nutritional content, although cherry juice will have less dietary fiber because it is filtered out. However, frozen cherries have a lower antioxidant content, and canned cherries have even less. Canned cherries may also contain added sugar, which can contribute empty calories to your diet.

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