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Are Cherries Good for Diabetes? Guilt-Free Sweet Treat
Diabetes

Are Cherries Good for Diabetes? Guilt-Free Sweet Treat

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 28
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5 min

Here is everything you need to know about cherries and their nutritional value, as well as the health benefits they can provide, especially for people with diabetes. There are five key reasons why it is so important to include cherries as part of a balanced diet.

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People with diabetes, whether it is type 1 or type 2, have to keep a close eye on their blood sugar level because the body cannot regulate it on its own. For diabetes patients to get enough energy from food, they need a healthy diet that includes nutrient-dense, low-glycemic foods.

The nutrient content and antioxidant properties of cherries make them a superfood. Because cherries are naturally sweet, people with diabetes may wonder if they’re good for them. In fact, cherries have a low glycemic index, so they are unlikely to cause blood sugar spikes.

Cherries are best when fresh, but you can also find them frozen, dried, juiced, canned, or in supplements. Clearly, it’s best to avoid cherries with added sugar if you have diabetes.

We will explore two types of fresh cherries: sweet and tart cherries. Tart cherries are vibrant red and rather sour, while sweet cherries are usually darker and contain more sugar.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about cherries: why they’re good for you, how they can control blood sugar levels, the top 5 health benefits they have for diabetes patients, and when to avoid them.

Are Cherries Good for Diabetes?

Cherries have powerful anti-diabetic properties because they’re packed with antioxidants and fiber. Plus, they are naturally sweet, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling guilty.

The research behind fresh sour cherries proves that they can prevent complications of diabetes and help in regulating blood sugar levels. In particular, anthocyanin, the antioxidants found in cherries, helps the body respond more readily to insulin, helping people with type 2 diabetes improve insulin sensitivity.

Generally, the more sour the cherry, the less natural sugars it contains, and the better it’s for diabetes management. You can’t go wrong with them as they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals and don’t spike your blood sugar.

About 3/4 cup of fresh sour cherries a day is recommended – even fresh, unsweetened cherries don’t need to be consumed in excess. Also, you can add sugar-free frozen cherries or dried cherries to your diet, both of which retain the original properties of the fresh fruit. However, try to avoid canned cherries with added sugars.

Nutritional Value of Cherries

Fresh cherry fruit is an excellent choice for people with diabetes because they’re packed with the best vitamins and minerals for diabetes, and it is relatively low in sugar.

A 100g serving of cherries contains the following nutrients, based on data from the USDA.

Calories: 63kcalVitamin C: 7mg
Water: 82.2gVitamin B6: 0.049mg
Protein: 1.06gCalcium: 13mg
Total fat: 0.2gMagnesium: 11mg
Carbohydrates: 16gPotassium: 222mg
Sugar: 12.8gCholine: 6.1mg
Fiber: 2.1gBeta-carotene: 38µg

Cherries have varying nutritional values at different stages of ripeness, which determines the benefits they provide.

Take the time to read the label on your next box of cherries before you buy them. Check the sugar content and buy what’s right for you.

Glycemic Index of Cherries

Depending on its type, a cherry might have a different glycemic index. However, all kinds of cherries have a relatively low glycemic index, about 22–25.

A food’s glycemic index (GI) indicates the blood glucose level after a meal. When you eat carbohydrate-rich food, your sugar levels go up. So, it is critical for people with diabetes to eat low GI foods. 

Due to the fiber content of cherries, carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly. Consequently, sugar levels rise more slowly.

Sweet cherries are an excellent fruit-based snack for people with diabetes because of their low glycemic index. Try this if you’re having diabetes headaches.

There are a few well-researched studies indicating that tart juice concentrate, given 1.5 hours before exercise for 7 days, can boost endurance performance

5 Benefits of Cherries for Diabetes

Cherries are good for people with diabetes because they improve digestion and the pancreas, relieve constipation, and help eliminate toxins. 

They reduce sodium levels and prevent complications like gout, have a positive effect on blood glucose levels, and improve blood vessel health. People with swollen feet especially benefit from this.

Are you still wondering why cherries are good for you? Get to know the main 5 health benefits cherries offer, especially for people with diabetes.

#1 Regulates blood sugar

Fresh cherries contain up to 2.1g of fiber per serving, and they are relatively low in carbohydrates. This fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels by delaying digestion and preventing sugars from being metabolized too quickly. 

In other words, people with diabetes don’t need to worry about their blood sugar levels when they eat cherries. Despite cherries’ nutritional value, portion size is key. Don’t overeat cherries.

#2 Full of antioxidants

Cherries are a powerful source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They slow the aging process and prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. 

Anthocyanin, the antioxidant which gives cherries their red color, is also beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes as it helps regulate blood sugar levels and may prevent its complications. In addition, anthocyanin may help lower cholesterol and fight heart disease.

#3 Fights joint pain

Eating cherries will reduce inflammation – which is one of the effects of arthritis – and will help reduce swelling. Besides having anti-inflammatory compounds, sweet cherries contain a significant amount of potassium that helps eliminate excess liquid.

Water retention, common among people with diabetes, can have serious implications on joint health and cause osteoarthritis. It creates a corrosive environment that damages the joints.

#4 Natural source of melatonin

Cherries are an excellent source of melatonin, which improves your sleep by regulating your body clock. A glass of tart cherry juice before bedtime can help you get a better night’s sleep and improve your metabolism.

To avoid tart-tasting cherries, you can also take cherry extract pills or other supplements. Just make sure to avoid those with added sugar or a sour taste.

#5 Source of magnesium

People with type 2 diabetes must supply their bodies with magnesium constantly due to frequent urination, which leads to magnesium depletion. Magnesium deficiency can increase insulin resistance, causing serious diabetes complications.

Cherry juice contains 11mg of magnesium per 100g, which is only a small portion of the daily value, but it is still valuable.

Magnesium has a positive effect on diabetes, but only when it comes from natural sources. Oral supplements have no noticeable effect on type 1 or type 2 diabetes patients.

FAQs

How many carbs are in cherries?

There are 16 grams of carbs in 100 grams of fresh cherries, out of which 12.8 grams are sugar and 2.1 grams – fiber. The number of natural sugars in cherries may vary depending on how sweet they are. Cherry is a healthy food with plenty of vitamins and minerals. However, it should be eaten in moderation to avoid spiking blood sugar levels or gaining weight.

Do cherries have a lot of sugar?

Cherries contain 12.8 grams of sugar in 100 grams, along with 2.1 grams of fiber. Depending on the type and ripeness of the cherry, the number of natural sugars may vary. Your sugar intake shouldn’t exceed 10% of your daily calories. Even though cherries contain vitamins and minerals, you should eat them moderately to stay within your calorie intake.

How many cherries can a person with diabetes eat?

People with diabetes can consume up to 3/4 cup of cherries daily. Compared to sweet cherries, sour cherries are better for controlling blood sugar levels. Every 100 grams of cherries contain 16 grams of carbohydrates, including 12.8 grams of sugar and 2.1 grams of fiber, so always practice portion control.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Although cherries are very useful for people with diabetes, there are some circumstances in which they should not be consumed. Cherry consumption is subject to the following restrictions:

  • Gastritis with increased gastric juice production and stomach ulcers
  • Recurring diarrhea
  • Ureteritis and cholelithiasis
  • Kidney disease
  • Cherry allergy

The consumption of cherries is safe if you do not have any of these conditions, provided you do so in moderation. When consumed in excess, it can not only raise glucose levels but also cause indigestion and abdominal pain.

Conclusion

The best way to control blood glucose levels and prevent diabetes complications is to change our lifestyle and practice healthy eating habits.

As evidenced by a large body of medical research, fresh sweet cherries and their sour varieties support diabetes treatment. Besides being low in carbohydrates, cherries also have a low glycemic index, so they don’t spike blood sugar levels quickly.

Antioxidants, including chemicals called anthocyanins, vitamin C, magnesium, and choline, are indispensable for controlling blood glucose levels. In addition, the fiber and trace elements in cherries help regulate blood pressure and improve digestion.

Choosing cherry varieties, keep in mind that the more sour they are, the better. However, any variety of cherries without added sugar is fine, including dried and frozen cherries.

Lastly, remember to control portion size when you eat cherries because they are sometimes hard to resist.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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