- Cherries are a great source of fiber, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals.
- Because of their low glycemic index (GI), cherries are less likely to raise blood sugar levels than other sweet foods.
- People with diabetes should still be mindful of how many cherries they eat at a time and what they pair with their meal to avoid a spike in their blood sugar levels.
Many people with diabetes may be wary of incorporating fruits into their diet because of their carbohydrate content. The carbohydrates in fruits are broken down into smaller sugar molecules by the body after eating, which can raise blood sugar levels and pose risks for people with diabetes.
Though keeping track of your overall carbohydrate intake is important when you have type 2 diabetes, fruits can be an enjoyable and health-supporting component of a diabetes-friendly diet—including cherries.
Thanks to their nutritional profile and low glycemic index, cherries won’t spike your blood sugar levels like other sweet foods.
Still, there are some factors you may want to consider when incorporating the fruit into your diet.
Nutritional Value of Cherries
Cherries are an excellent source of potassium and fiber, among other vitamins and minerals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nutritional properties of one cup of cherries without pits (or roughly 154 grams) are as follows:
- 97 calories.
- 24.6g of carbohydrates.
- 3.23g of fiber.
- 19.7g of sugar.
- 10.8mg of vitamin C.
- 342mg of potassium.
Can People With Diabetes Eat Cherries?
Yes, people with diabetes can eat cherries. Rich in potassium and fiber and relatively low in carbohydrates, they are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels than other sweet treats.
There are several potential benefits that eating cherries can offer people with diabetes, including:
- Blood sugar management: Roughly one cup of cherries without pits (or 154 grams) contains 3.23 grams of fiber. Research shows that fiber can help to lower fasting blood sugar and A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that fiber can help to control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates after eating by delaying the time it takes to empty your stomach.
- Reduction in A1C levels: One review of 29 human studies from 2018 found that consumption of cherries decreased A1C levels in some women with diabetes. Importantly, these studies included consumption of raw cherries as well as cherry juice, cherry powder, cherry concentrate, and cherry capsules, and the amount of cherries served to participants ranged from the equivalent of 2-6 cups of raw fruit per day. Eating such a large quantity of cherries per day may have adverse ramifications on your blood sugar levels. Finally, because there were inconsistencies among the results of the studies included, more research is needed to support these claims.
- Increase in insulin sensitivity: Cherries are also rich in a type of flavonoids called anthocyanins. An article from 2017 suggests that eating foods rich in anthocyanins may help manage diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity. However, more research is needed to support this potential benefit.
There are no significant risks to eating cherries if you have diabetes, unless you have an allergy or aversion to the fruit.
However, it’s still important to monitor your portion sizes and overall diet to ensure that you’re eating balanced meals complete with sources of protein, fiber, and fat throughout the day.
How Much Do Cherries Raise Your Blood Sugar?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for determining how much cherries can raise your blood sugar. This impact will vary from individual-to-individual and even meal-to-meal.
Factors that can influence how much or how little cherries can raise your blood sugar include portion size and other meal components. In general, cherries are less likely to raise your blood sugar levels than other types of carbohydrates because of their lower glycemic index and fiber content.
Glycemic Index of Cherries
Sweet cherries have a relatively low glycemic index (GI) rating of 25. The GI is a helpful rating system that rates foods that contain carbohydrates based on how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. This can be a helpful tool for making strategic meal plans for diabetes.
Foods that have a low GI rating, including cherries, oranges, green vegetables, and beans, have a delayed effect on blood sugar levels.
It’s important to note that while carbohydrate counting is the primary strategy in blood sugar management, the Gl index can be a useful tool when used in combination with it.
For those individuals interested in putting in additional effort, GI may provide an additional benefit.
Tips for Eating Cherries with Diabetes
For many, cherries are a beloved summertime treat.
But because of their short growing season, it can be hard to find the fresh version of the fruit year round. Below are some tips for enjoying the fruit while avoiding a spike in your blood sugar levels:
- Prioritize eating raw cherries while the fruit is in season (usually peak summertime). Eating the fruit raw will help to ensure that you reap the most nutritional benefits from the food without spiking your blood sugar levels.
- Consider adding a source or protein and fat (like nut butter or cheese) to your meal or snack to reduce the effects that eating the fruit may have on your blood sugar levels.
- When raw cherries aren’t available, look for dried or canned varieties that don’t contain added sugars.
Other Fruits to Enjoy with Managing Diabetes
There are many fruits you can enjoy when you have diabetes.
These foods can be a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. As always, it’s important to keep portion sizes and meal planning in mind when eating fruit with diabetes.
Examples of additional fruits you can incorporate into your diet include:
Cherries are a great source of fiber, potassium, and a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins.
Though they’re only in season for a few weeks out of the year, they can be a healthful and delicious summertime treat for people who enjoy their flavor. If you have diabetes, there’s no reason to avoid eating cherries.
However, it’s important to consider your overall nutrition when meal planning for diabetes to ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet that won’t adversely affect your blood sugar levels.
How a Dietitian Can Help
Working with a registered dietitian can help you incorporate fruit and other foods you like into your diet while still supporting your nutritional needs and overall health goals.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
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