Cherry; Types, Nutritional Value, Recipes, Health Benefits

Cherry; Types, Nutritional Value, Recipes, Health Benefits

Cherry fruits of commerce usually are obtained from cultivars of a limited number of species such as the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and the sour cherry (Prunus cerasus). The name ‘cherry’ also refers to the cherry tree and its wood, and is sometimes applied to almonds and visually similar flowering trees in the genus Prunus, as in “ornamental cherry” or “cherry blossom”. Wild cherry may refer to any of the cherry species growing outside cultivation.[1]

Cherries  which have the scientific name Prunus avium, are one of the most romantic fruits. They are eaten all around the world and are often a favorite flavor or ingredient. Predominantly a fruit of cold countries, cherries look and taste wonderful. Their vibrant color and tangy taste are indicators of the equally vibrant and magical health benefits these little fruits contain.[2]

Nutritional Value of Cherry

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 263 kJ (63 kcal)
16 g
Sugars 12.8 g
Dietary fiber 2.1 g
0.2 g
1.1 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A equiv.

lutein zeaxanthin

3 μg


38 μg

85 μg
Thiamine (B1)

0.027 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.033 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.154 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.199 mg

Vitamin B6

0.049 mg

Folate (B9)

4 μg


6.1 mg

Vitamin C

7 mg

Vitamin K

2.1 μg

Minerals Quantity%DV

13 mg


0.36 mg


11 mg


0.07 mg


21 mg


222 mg


0 mg


0.07 mg

Other constituents Quantity
Water 82 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Health Benefits of Cherry

  • Antioxidant Effects of Consuming Cherries – Out of a total of 29 published human studies, 10 monitored the effects of cherries and cherry products on markers of oxidative stress . Oxidative stress was decreased (or antioxidant capacity increased) in 8 studies [,4], and it did not change in 2 studies . Markers of antioxidant capacity that were altered by cherry consumption included increased plasma [5], FRAP [6], serum TAS [7], decreased plasma F2-isoprostane [8] and LOOH [9], and increased urinary antioxidant capacity [10]. The lack of an effect of cherry juice on oxidative stress in the study by [11] may have been due to the type of the exercise examined (water polo) which did not increase oxidative stress
  • Inflammation – Sixteen human studies investigated the effects of consuming cherries or cherry products on markers of inflammation which were shown to be decreased in 11 studies did not change in 4 studies [12], and increased in 1 study [13] . Markers of inflammation that were decreased included ESR [14] plasma concentrations CRP [15], TNF α [16], IL-6 , IL-8 , MCP-1 , and upper respiratory tract symptoms . Plasma CRP was also decreased by approximately 25% within 5 h of a bolus of 45 fresh Bing cherries compared with baseline values, although it did not attain significance . In the two studies by Levers et al. [17], the pre-exercise plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, and TNF α did not differ between the placebo and tart cherry groups, but their post exercise plasma concentrations were significantly lower in the cherry group. In the study by Kelley et al. [18] plasma concentrations of other inflammatory markers were also altered by consumption of sweet cherries, including decreases in IL-18 and ferritin, and an increase in IL-1R antagonist. In contrast, no change in serum CRP and IL-6 resulted from consumption of sweet cherry juice for 6 and 12 weeks in elderly subjects with dementia (mean age 80 years), [19]. Besides the age of the study participants, the low dose (138 mg/day) of anthocyanins used in this study may be the reason for the lack of an effect of cherry juice on serum markers of inflammation.
  • Diabetes – Supplementation with cherries or cherry products did not alter fasting or randomly sampled blood glucose and fasting insulin in healthy study participants [20,]. In a study with diabetic women, concentrated tart cherry juice at 40 mL/day (anthocyanins 720 mg/day) for 6 weeks significantly decreased hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) when compared with the levels before the supplementation; fasting blood glucose (FBG) was also decreased by 8% but did not attain significance [21]. Although this study did not include a control group, these findings are consistent with those found in animal and in vitro studies. Consumption of extracts from both sweet and tart cherries prevented alloxan-induced diabetes in rats [22] and in mice . Adding cherry extract or purified anthocyanins to the high fat diets fed to mice and rats decreased circulating glucose, insulin and liver triglycerides when compared with those groups fed the high fat diets without cherry products . Sweet cherry fractions rich in anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acid, or flavanols increased glucose consumption by cultured HepG2 cells [24].
  • Blood Lipids – Consumption of sweet cherries or tart cherry concentrate by healthy adults did not alter concentrations of blood lipids, including triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol, number of different lipoprotein particles and their sizes in healthy adults [25]. In contrast to the studies with healthy participants, another study with overweight and obese subjects who had elevated blood lipids reported a decrease in VLDL and triglycerides/high-density lipoprotein (TG/HDL) ratio following consumption of tart cherry juice for 4 weeks . It seems the lipid profile of study participants prior to the supplementation with tart cherries  versus sweet cherries [26] rather than the type of cherries may have contributed to the different results between these two studies. As stated above, cherry extracts and purified anthocyanins decreased liver triglycerides and cholesterol in mouse and rat models and prevented the high fat diet induced development of  [27].
  • Blood Pressure – Effects of cherry consumption on blood pressure (BP) were examined in 7 studies; 3 of these studies examined the acute effects [28], and 4 examined the chronic effects of cherry consumption [29]. Both systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were significantly lowered within 2 h of a single dose of 300 mL of Bing cherry juice and returned to the baseline levels at 6 h in the young and elderly adults . However, if the juice was served in 3 doses of 100 mL each at 0, 1, and 2 h there was no decrease in either SBP or DBP at 2 or 6 h These findings indicate that both the dose and time after ingestion are important in determining the BP lowering effects of cherry juice. Time dependent effects of tart cherry concentrate were also observed in two other studies where only the SBP was significantly decreased at 1 and 2 h after ingestion of Montmorency cherry concentrate, but not at 4 and 5 h after the supplementation [30]. The acute effects of cherry concentrate on BP were associated with increase in plasma concentrations of vanillic and protocatechuic acids, which are metabolites of cyanindin-3-glucoside [31].
  • Arthritis and Associated Risk Factors – The earliest study regarding the health benefits of fresh and canned cherries was conducted in 1950 in patients with gout [32]. Results from this study demonstrated that consumption of fresh or canned cherries prevented attacks of arthritis and restored the plasma uric acid (UA) concentrations to normal levels in all 12 patients. Furthermore, 4 patients reported greater freedom of joint movements in fingers and toes. These findings were published for more than 5 decades before the next human study regarding cherries and health was conducted by [33]. The study by Jacob et al. investigated the acute effects of ingesting a bolus of 45 sweet cherries in 10 young healthy women. They found that cherry consumption decreased plasma markers of oxidative stress and inflammation. Plasma UA concentration which is considered a marker for gout, was significantly reduced at 5 h after a dietary bolus of sweet cherries, but not at 1.5 and 3 h when compared to pre-challenge values. Results from recent studies regarding the effects of cherry consumption on plasma concentrations of UA have been variable. In one study, with obese subjects, consumption of tart cherry juice for 4 weeks significantly reduced plasma concentration of UA [34], while it was not altered by consumption of tart cherry juice within 6 weeks in patients with osteoarthritis , or within 7 days in water polo athletes [35]. Although the tart cherry juice did not decrease UA in patients with osteoarthritis, it significantly decreased plasma CRP and the Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index. In a recent case-crossover study with 633 gout patients, consumption of fresh cherries or cherry extract over a 2-day period was associated with a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared with no intake of cherries .
  • Effects of Consuming Cherries on Sleep, Mood, and Cognitive Functions – Both quality and quantity of sleep were improved by the consumption of sweet [36] as well as tart cherries. Effect on sleep could be detected within 3 days of consuming sweet cherries (141 g or 25 cherries/day) and within 5 d of consuming tart cherries (240 mL of tart cherry juice; approximately 100 cherries/day). The studies using sweet cherries also reported a decrease in urinary cortisol and anxiety, and improved mood [37]. Those functions were not tested in the studies using tart cherries . However, mood and cognitive functions were not altered within 5 h of supplementing with 60 mL (approximately 180 tart cherries) of tart cherry concentrate [38]. Similarly, there was no significant difference in cognitive functions tested at 0 and 6 h after a single serving of cherry juice (300 mL, anthocyanins 55 mg) to young and older adults [39]. Authors suggested that the lack of an effect may be due to the low dose of anthocyanins served. While there are only limited numbers of published studies testing the effects of cherries on cognitive functions, several studies assessed the effects of other anthocyanin rich foods on cognitive functions. Thus, cognitive functions were improved in 6 out of 7 human intervention studies using food-based anthocyanins [40]. Similarly, 17 out of 19 epidemiological studies reported significant benefits of fruit, vegetable, or juice consumption on cognitive functions [41].
  • Exercise Induced Muscle Damage and Recovery – Exercise-induced muscle pain, soreness and loss of strength were significantly reduced by cherry consumption in 8 out of 9 studies , but were not different from the placebo in one study that involved water polo athletes . Post-exercise muscle damage as determined by plasma concentration of CK and LDH when compared with placebo groups was reduced by cherry products in one , but not in other studies [42]. The attenuation of exercise-induced muscle damage by cherries seems to be related to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanins and other phenolic compounds found in cherries [43]. All the exercise related studies were conducted with tart cherry products ranging from the equivalent of 50 to 270 cherries a day.
  • Eye Care – Again, the antioxidants in cherries play a powerful role. They protect eyes against all damage done by free radicals and aging such as vision loss, macular degeneration, and dryness as well as soothes the eyes, reduces inflammation, and helps maintain proper ocular pressure. They also protect eyes from common infections.[44]
  • Improved Brain Function – Flavonoids and carotenoids are very effective in improving the efficiency of the brain, improving memory and keeping it active, which are otherwise reduced due to the action of free radicals as a nearly unavoidable part of aging. Those who are afraid of having a dull brain and a low memory capacity in their old age, start eating cherries! The antioxidant properties of these cherries also protect the nervous system from age-related disorders. Thus, they can be helpful in treating nervous disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, disappointment, undue anxiety, and chronic stress.[45]
  • Aid in Digestion While the fiber in cherries helps relieve constipation, the acid in them aids digestion. Again, the antioxidants in cherries keep the digestive system in order. The flavonoids stimulate the digestive juices and bile while the vitamins help in the proper absorption of the nutrients.[46]
  • Reduce Heart Diseases – The nutrients in cherries like vitamins, antioxidants (flavonoids and carotenoids) and minerals like phosphorus are excellent cardio-protectors. They protect the heart from nearly all damage done by the oxidants. They help maintain proper heart rate, prevent blood vessels from hardening, and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks. They also strengthen the cardiac muscles.
  • Other Benefits – The darker the cherry is in color, the more healthy and beneficial it is because of a richer antioxidant content. The fructose in cherries provides energy without harming diabetics. These little fruits prevent oral infections and keep away bad breath. The acids and flavonoids in cherries are good appetizers. They are even effective in protecting you from seasonal infections like a cough, cold, pox, mumps, and measles.




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