Are maraschino cherries good for dieting?

Quick Answer

Maraschino cherries can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. They are low in calories but high in sugar, so portion control is important. The artificial dyes and flavors may also be concerning for some. Overall, maraschino cherries are fine for dieting if eaten sparingly.

Calorie and Nutrition Info

Maraschino cherries are relatively low in calories, with about 24 calories in 5 cherries (30g). However, most of these calories come from sugar. Here is the nutrition information for 5 maraschino cherries (30g):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 24
Fat 0g
Carbs 6g
Sugar 5g
Fiber 0g
Protein 0g

As you can see, maraschino cherries provide almost no protein, fat, fiber or nutrients. The calories come mainly from sugar.

Sugar Content

The main concern with maraschino cherries is their high sugar content. 5 cherries contain about 5g of sugar, almost equivalent to a teaspoon of granulated sugar.

This is a lot of added sugar for such a small portion. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 25g or 6 teaspoons per day for women and 36g or 9 teaspoons for men. Just 5 cherries provides close to a whole teaspoon.

However, you can still incorporate them into a healthy diet in moderation. Just be mindful of portion sizes.

Health Effects of Too Much Sugar

Consuming too much added sugar from sources like maraschino cherries can negatively impact health in many ways:

Weight Gain

The extra calories from sugar can lead to weight gain over time, especially if exceeding daily calorie needs. The small portion of cherries is ok, but going overboard can contribute to obesity.

Blood Sugar Issues

High sugar intake stresses the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and may contribute to type 2 diabetes risk.


Excess sugar consumption can trigger inflammatory processes linked to various diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Nutrient Deficiencies

High sugar diets tend to be lower in essential nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies over time.

Fatty Liver Disease

Excess sugar may increase risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Dental Cavities

The sugar feeds oral bacteria that produce acid eroding tooth enamel.

So limiting sugar from sources like maraschino cherries can improve health, though they are unlikely to cause issues in small amounts. Moderation is key.

Are Maraschino Cherries Even Real Cherries?

Maraschino cherries are different from regular fresh cherries. Here’s an overview of how they’re made:


The cherries are first bleached to remove their natural color. This bleaching destroys most nutrients.


The bleached cherries are then brined in a sugar, salt, and sulfur dioxide solution. This helps preserve them.


The cherries are dyed red again to achieve that bright maraschino color. Artificial dyes are used.


Artificial flavors like almond extract or vanilla may be added to enhance taste.

So real cherries are used, but heavily processed. Much of the nutrition is lost in the brining and bleaching steps. The end product is mostly just sugar and artificial colors/flavors.

Minimal Nutrition

Here is a nutrition comparison of 5 raw cherries vs maraschino cherries:

Nutrient Raw Cherries Maraschino Cherries
Calories 34 24
Sugar 7g 5g
Fiber 1g 0g
Vitamin C 10% DV 0% DV
Iron 2% DV 0% DV

Raw cherries provide more well-rounded nutrition with fiber, vitamin C and iron. Maraschino cherries are essentially just sugar and water.

Artificial Ingredients

In addition to minimal real cherry nutrition, maraschino cherries contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives:

Artificial Food Dyes

Red #40 is used to dye maraschino cherries red. Concerns exist over potential cancer risk.

Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur dioxide is added as a preservative. It maintains the bright color but some people may be sensitive.

Artificial Flavors

Natural flavors like benzaldehyde are often removed. Cheaper artificial flavors are used instead.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Some brands use high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar. This sweetener is highly processed.

For those trying to avoid artificial additives, maraschino cherries would not be the best choice.

Healthier Cherry Options

For better nutrition and fewer additives, choose one of these cherry options instead:

Raw Fresh Cherries

Choose raw fresh cherries in season for the most nutrition. These provide fiber, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants.

Frozen Cherries

Frozen cherries retain more nutrients than maraschino. Let them thaw and use in yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies.

Dried Cherries

Dried cherries offer concentrated nutrition with fiber and nutrients. Enjoy a small portion for sweetness.

100% Cherry Juice

Look for 100% cherry juice with no added sugars. This provides antioxidants without extra calories.

Canned Cherries

Canned cherries in juice or water are processed but still higher in nutrients than maraschino cherries.

Healthy Ways to Use Maraschino Cherries

If you do enjoy the flavor of maraschino cherries, here are some healthier ways to eat them in moderation:

In Fruit Salads

Add just 2-3 maraschino cherries to a mixed fruit salad for a pop of sweetness. Pair with fresh berries and other fruit.

On Low-Fat Yogurt

Top plain nonfat Greek yogurt with a few cherries for added natural sweetness and color.

In Oatmeal

Mix a couple chopped cherries into oatmeal along with cinnamon, fruit, and nuts for a balanced breakfast.

On Cottage Cheese

The small portion of maraschino cherries can help naturally sweeten a cottage cheese snack.

In Trail Mix

Add a few maraschino cherries to homemade trail mixes along with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

On Frozen Yogurt

Top your favorite frozen yogurt with a sprinkle of maraschino cherries for a low-calorie dessert treat.

In Baked Goods

Chop cherries into muffins, cookies, or cakes for pretty color and sweet bursts.

In Smoothies

Add 1-2 cherries to a fruit smoothie along with lower sugar ingredients like plain yogurt and spinach.

Portion Control is Key

Maraschino cherries can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. To keep calories and sugar in check:

– Stick to a small serving of 3-5 cherries
– Eat them infrequently, such as 2-3 times per week
– Balance with more nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains
– Avoid eating cherries by the handful or on a daily basis
– Measure out a serving to avoid overdoing it

Keeping portions small and enjoying maraschino cherries only occasionally can allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth while still meeting your diet goals.

Make Your Own Low-Sugar Maraschino Cherries

To take in less added sugar, consider making homemade maraschino cherries:


– Fresh cherries, pits removed
– 1 cup water
– 1/4 cup erythritol or xylitol
– 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a saucepan, combine the water, erythritol/xylitol, and extracts. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sweetener.
2. Add the pitted cherries and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool completely before storing cherries in the syrup in the fridge.

This yields sweetened cherries with 75% less sugar than store-bought versions. Customize the flavoring to your liking.


Maraschino cherries can be incorporated into a healthy diet when consumed in small amounts. Focus on controlling portions, limiting frequency, and pairing with nutritious foods. Opt for fresh or frozen cherries more often for greater nutrition. With mindful moderation, you can still enjoy the unique flavor of maraschino cherries even when dieting.

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