Many people do not consider cherries when they think of nutritious foods. According to Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. in his book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," cherries are among the most healthful fruit you can eat. Cherries are low on the glycemic index, something to consider if you're trying to control blood sugar levels.
The Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is a numerical scale that measures the potential effect that a food or beverage may have on your blood sugar. Foods that rank high on the list -- 70 or greater -- are considered to be high-glycemic foods that will rapidly and significantly raise your blood sugar levels. Foods that rank lower on the list -- 55 or lower -- are considered to be low-glycemic foods that will not rapidly or significantly affect your blood sugar levels. There are several factors that determine a food or beverage's glycemic index, including how much a food is refined or processed, amount of fiber, how long the food is cooked and what kind of sugars a food or drink contains.
Glycemic Index of Cherries
Cherries have a glycemic index of 22 and are considered to be a very low glycemic index food. The glycemic index ranking of 22 pertains to fresh cherries, with no added sweeteners or sugar preservatives. This ranking does not include cherries such as Maraschino cherries that are soaked and preserved in a jar full of sugary syrup. Fruits that are preserved in a can or jar often have a much higher glycemic index ranking because processed and refined sugars have a much more dramatic effect on your blood than naturally occurring sugar.
Comparsion to Other Fruits
Cherries, with a glycemic index of 22, rank lower than almost any other fruit. This suggests that fresh cherries are an ideal fruit for diabetics and dieters that want to avoid raising their blood sugar and insulin levels. Cherries have a lower glycemic index ranking than apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, fresh peaches, pears and watermelon. Only grapefruit, with a glycemic index ranking of 25, ranks within 10 points or less of cherries.
Bowden lists cherries among the very best fruits as they are a low-calorie source loaded with anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-aging compounds. For example, cherries have high levels of quercetin and ellagic acid. Both of these compounds have very powerful anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic effects. Cherries also contain perillyl alcohol, and although the exact mechanism is still being debated, perrilyl alcohol is thought to inhibit tumor growth. Cherries can also lower the levels of uric acid in your body which is the primary cause of gout pain. Although, unlike blueberries, cherries are not acclaimed as "superfruits," they are extremely nutritious and will not raise your blood sugar.