For such a little fruit, cherries are packed full of antioxidants, flavonoids and important key nutrients. Cherries have an abundance of vitamins B and C as well as potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and iron. Unless you have an allergy or a sensitive stomach, it's unlikely that overindulging in cherries will cause serious health concerns. In fact, cherries can give you energy, aid in digestion, relieve pain and help you sleep.
Although cherries provide many health benefits, eating too many at once might result in mild stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Calories, Fat and Protein Content
Eating too many cherries will likely not result in weight gain. Cherries contain virtually no fat or cholesterol, and an average serving of cherries, consisting of 140 grams or about 17 cherries, amounts to 88 calories. A healthy diet should consist of 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day for men.
Of the total calories in cherries, about 5 percent consist of protein, equating to 1.5 grams. For optimal health, 10 to 30 percent of your daily caloric intake should come from protein, which you need to build tissue, including bones, muscles and skin.
Complex Carbs: Cherries Health Benefits
About 91 percent of the total calories in cherries come from healthy complex carbohydrates, which your body uses for energy. Carbs are needed to fuel many metabolic and physical processes, including your brain, heart and nervous system.
Victoria State Government Better Health Channel says that diets high in unrefined carbohydrates help to prevent being overweight and obesity. Eating 17 cherries provides 22 grams of "good" carbs, or about 7 percent toward your daily goal of between 225 and 325 grams, depending on your age and weight.
Read more: Cherries and Weight Loss
Effect of Cherries on Digestion
A 140-gram serving of sweet cherries offers 2.9 grams or 12 percent of your daily value of dietary fiber. Fiber is a front-runner for keeping your digestive system running smoothly. Fiber is the part of plant foods your body can't absorb or digest.
It passes through your body relatively intact, absorbing water and adding bulk to help digested food move through your intestines. By increasing the size of your stool and softening it, fiber helps to prevent constipation, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Are you wondering about cherries and constipation? Due to their fiber, cherries often act as a laxative. The only downside of eating too many cherries at once might be intestinal gas, cramping and abdominal bloating. Medical News Today says that these uncomfortable side effects usually happen with an intake of more than 70 grams of fiber per day. That would equate to eating 54 cherries!
The Sweet Taste of Cherries
Cherries are sweet tasting for a reason. They contain 18 grams of sugar per 140 gram serving. But the sugar in cherries is fructose, a natural form, which is easily metabolized by your body. Even if you eat cherries with wild abandon, it is unlikely you could eat enough to cause the type of harm that added refined sugar does.
Read more: What Nutritional Value Do Cherries Have?
Cherries Relieve Pain of Gout
Another one of cherries' health benefits is attributed to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content. Cherries have been used for decades as an alternative medical therapy for gout, a painful arthritic condition.
Gout is caused by an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood. According to a study published by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2017, participants who ate two servings of cherries had a reduction of serum uric acid levels. The study found that patients with gout who consumed 10 to 12 cherries for two days had a 35 percent reduced repeat incidence of gout attacks.
So if you suffer from gout, feasting on cherries might relieve your symptoms.
Cherries Help You Sleep
Choosing cherries for your late-night snack could mean the difference between restless insomnia and a health-promoting sleep.
There are four main vitamins and minerals in cherries that may help you sleep. They are tryptophan, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6:
- Tryptophan is an amino acid in cherries. It's the precursor of both serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, appetite and pain. Serotonin is often used in antidepressant medications. Melatonin is a hormone that controls your body's internal clock and helps regulate your sleep cycle.
- Vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked with low serotonin levels causing poor sleep, symptoms of depression and mood disorders which can lead to insomnia, according to Alaska Sleep Clinic. Cherries provide 3 percent of your daily allowance for vitamin B6.
Allergy to Cherries
If you experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting, cramping or diarrhea after eating cherries, you may have an intolerance to them. More severe, you might have a food allergy.
An allergy to food is an abnormal response to a particular protein in food triggered by your body's immune system. It is possible to be allergic to cherries, especially if you are allergic to birch pollen, says Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of a food allergy usually develop within a few minutes to two hours after eating the fruit and may include:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Skin rashes such as hives or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing and nasal congestion
- Abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea
- Dizziness or fainting
In rare situations, an allergy to cherries might trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening condition.
Choose Organic Cherries
Eating too many cherries that are not organic might put you at risk for exposure to toxins in pesticides.
According to an Environmental Working Group's analysis of data from the Department of Agriculture in 2019, over 225 different pesticides were found on various fruits. After washing, 90 percent of cherries tested were found to contain two or more pesticides.
To emphasize the importance of choosing organic cherries, free of pesticides, consider the French study published in JAMA in 2018. Researchers found that those who ate a diet containing organic food had 25 percent fewer incidents of cancer than individuals who did not eat organic food.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of Dried Cherries?
- NutritionalValue.org: Cherries, Raw, Sweet
- USDA Dietary Guideleines, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level
- Victoria State Government Better Health Channel: Weight Loss and Carbohydrates
- Dietary Guidelines, 2015-2020: Appendix 7. Daily Nutritional Goals for Age-Sex Groups Based on Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines Recommendations
- Mayo Clinic: Q and A: Diet, Lifestyle Choices Can Lower Risk of Diverticulosis Developing Into Diverticulitis
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: Dietary Fiber
- Medical News Today: How Much Fiber Is Too Much?
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: Nonpharmacological Management of Gout and Hyperuricemia: Hints for Better Lifestyle
- Alaska Sleep Clinic: Alaska Sleep Education Center Foods for Sleep: A List of The Best and Worst Foods for Getting Sleep
- PubChem: Tryptophan
- Scientifica: The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare
- EurekAlert: Brain Calcium Controls How Long We Sleep
- Mayo Clinic: Food Allergy
- Environmental Working Group: EWG's 2019 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce
- JAMA: Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk