The European settlers introduced several varieties of cherries, but the sweet Bing cherry was brought to America by a Chinese immigrant and cultivated near Salem, Oregon. About 40 percent of America’s sour cherries are produced in Traverse City, Michigan. Cherries are a good source of vitamin C, and contain smaller amounts of other essential minerals and vitamins.
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Sour cherries, which are commonly used in pies, are believed to be a cross between the sweet cherry and a wild cherry that grew in Europe. Sweet cherries can also be cooked, but are often enjoyed fresh and raw. Maraschino cherries are made by cooking cherries in syrup with almond flavor and red dye.
The following nutrition values are for 1 cup (154g) of raw sweet cherries. This serving size has 97 calories and provides 3 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of protein, 13g of sugar and no fat. The total carbohydrates make up 6 percent of the recommended daily value, with an estimated glycemic load of 6. The glycemic load is a score that represents total carbohydrates together with how quickly sugar is released into the blood. NutritionData.com states that a typical goal is a daily glycemic load of 100 or less.
Sweet cherries contain vitamins A, E and K, and all of the B vitamins except vitamin B12. They’re a great source of vitamin C (18 percent DV), but have smaller amounts—between 1 and 4 percent DV—of all the other vitamins.
Cherries have a good amount of potassium, providing 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of this mineral. They’re also great if you’re watching your salt consumption, because they only have 5mg of sodium, which is too small to be significant. Cherries supply 5 percent of both copper and manganese, and 4 percent of magnesium. They also have a small amount of calcium (2 percent DV), iron (3 percent DV) and zinc (1 percent DV).
Sour cherries have 19 fewer calories than sweet cherries and 7 fewer grams of sugar. Sour cherries supply about the same nutrients, except they are a better source of vitamins C and A: 26 percent of the daily value of vitamin C and a whopping 40 percent of vitamin A. As you might expect, if you buy cherries that are canned in syrup, the amounts of calories, sugar and carbohydrates increase. Cherries packed in a “light” syrup have twice the sugar and total carbohydrates, and not quite double the calories (169).
A typical “serving” of maraschino cherries consists of one maraschino on top of a dessert. One maraschino only has 8 calories, 1 percent DV of total carbohydrates and 2g of sugar. On the down side, maraschinos provide no nutrition. They have trace amounts of a few minerals and vitamins, but not enough to register as a percent of daily value. It takes about 30 maraschino cherries to equal the 1 cup serving size used for sweet cherries. If you ate that many, you’d consume 240 calories, 60g of sugar, 30 percent of daily carbohydrates and receive no nutritional benefit.