How many cherries should a diabetic eat a day?

Quick Answer

Diabetics can safely eat about 1-2 cups or 12-24 cherries per day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Cherries contain antioxidants and nutrients that may help manage diabetes, but they also contain carbs and sugar. Work with your doctor or dietitian to determine your ideal daily cherry intake based on your individual carb tolerance and blood sugar levels.

How Many Carbs Are in Cherries?

One cup or about 21 cherries contains around 19 grams of carbs, including:

  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Sugar alcohols: 4 grams

Since most of the carbs come from sugar, cherries have a relatively high glycemic index of 63. This means they can raise blood sugar faster than foods with a lower glycemic index.

However, the fiber and sugar alcohols help slow digestion, reducing blood sugar spikes. Overall, the glycemic load of a 1-cup serving is estimated around 9, which is considered low.

Cherry Nutrition Facts

Cherries provide an impressive array of nutrients despite being relatively low in calories at under 100 calories per cup.

Here are the nutrition facts for 1 cup or about 21 cherries:

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 87 4%
Fat 0.3 g 0%
Sodium 0 mg 0%
Potassium 222 mg 6%
Carbs 22 g 7%
Fiber 3 g 11%
Sugar 12 g
Protein 1 g 2%

Cherries also contain:

  • Vitamin C: 18% DV
  • Vitamin A: 3% DV
  • Calcium: 2% DV
  • Iron: 5% DV

In addition, they provide various antioxidants, including anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, and melatonin.

Benefits of Cherries for Diabetes

Here are some of the top evidence-based benefits cherries may offer people with diabetes:

May Lower Blood Sugar

Studies indicate cherries may help manage blood sugar levels in those with and without diabetes.

In one study in 17 people with diabetes, eating about 2 cups of tart cherry juice with meals for 2 days reduced post-meal blood sugar by up to 23% compared to a control drink.

Another study found overweight and obese people who drank 8 ounces (240 ml) of tart cherry juice daily had significantly lower blood sugar levels after 12 weeks.

The anthocyanins in cherries are thought to be largely responsible for these anti-diabetic effects. They may slow carbohydrate digestion, improve insulin production and sensitivity, and reduce inflammation.

May Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes development.

Cherries contain various anti-inflammatory plant compounds. For example, their anthocyanin content provides potent anti-inflammatory properties.

In one study, when people with gout drank 8 ounces (240 ml) of tart cherry juice daily, markers of inflammation decreased by up to 50% after 2 weeks.

May Protect Your Heart

Heart disease is a common diabetes complication. However, berries like cherries are rich in anthocyanins that can help protect your heart in various ways.

Research reveals those who eat more anthocyanin-rich foods have alower risk of heart attack and stroke.

Cherries’ nutrients and plant compounds may reduce several heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

May Boost Weight Loss

Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Studies show diets rich in fruits — including cherries — are linked to weight loss. Their fiber and nutrients may promote weight control by reducing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness.

A 12-week study noted significant reductions in body weight and belly fat in overweight people who ate 2 cups (280 grams) of cherries daily. Though the participants had metabolic syndrome, this indicates cherries may aid weight control in those with diabetes as well.

Easy to Add to Your Diet

Cherries make a sweet, portable snack and versatile ingredient. Enjoy them:

  • Fresh as a snack
  • Frozen, thawed, and added to yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal
  • Blended into smoothies
  • Made into chia pudding or overnight oats
  • Added to salad with balsamic vinegar and walnuts
  • Roasted with chicken or fish
  • In baked goods like muffins and pies

Potential Concerns With Cherries

Cherries contain fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients that benefit heart health and may lower diabetes risk. However, some concerns include:

Carb Content

The main concern is cherries’ carb content. Though they are low glycemic compared to other fruits, their 15–22 grams of carbs per cup can affect blood sugar levels.

Work with a dietitian to determine your tolerable daily carb intake to manage blood sugar. Monitor your levels when introducing more cherries to ensure they don’t cause spikes.

Pesticide Residue

Cherries are on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce highest in pesticide residues. If possible, buy organic cherries when available or thoroughly wash cherries to minimize exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.


About 80% of cherries sold in the United States are imported. Chile, Turkey, and Poland are top exporters of sweet cherries, while tart cherries come from Poland and Hungary.

If possible, opt for cherries grown domestically to support local farmers and minimize environmental impact.

Canned Cherries

Canned cherries are less nutritious, as processing destroys heat-sensitive vitamin C. Canned varieties also contain high fructose corn syrup. Avoid these and stick to fresh or frozen.

How Many Cherries Should You Eat Per Day?

There are no official recommendations for daily cherry intake. However, studies showing health benefits use 1–2 cups daily.

The American Diabetes Association recommends incorporating berries into a diabetes diet with portions of 1/2–1 cup. This equates to:

  • 12–21 whole, fresh cherries
  • 1/2–1 cup frozen or canned, drained

Most studies use tart cherry juice, which has higher antioxidant levels than sweet varieties. If opting for juice, stick to 4–8 ounces (120–240 ml) daily to minimize blood sugar spikes.

Work with your healthcare provider to personalize your daily cherry intake and diabetes diet based on the following factors:

Daily Carb Allowance

Determine how many net carbs you can eat while maintaining optimal blood sugar control. Spread carb intake evenly across meals and snacks to avoid spikes.

As a low glycemic fruit, cherries may be a better choice compared to high glycemic, starchy foods. Prioritize produce over refined grains, desserts, and sugary beverages.

Blood Sugar Response

Monitor your blood sugar carefully when adding more cherries or other fruits. Check levels 1–2 hours after eating them to ensure they are not causing spikes above your target range.

Adjust portions up or down as needed to identify your personal carb tolerance.

Medications and Insulin Dosing

Your medication and insulin needs may require adjustment if changing your carb intake and diet pattern. Discuss any changes with your healthcare team.

Individual Nutrition Needs

Consider your activity levels, weight goals, need for weight gain or loss, and other health conditions when planning your diet. These factors impact your macronutrient needs.

Meal Timing

Since cherries are relatively high glycemic, it’s best to enjoy them with a source of protein, fat, or fiber to help slow absorption and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Cherries make a good afternoon or post-workout snack when blood sugar tends to be lower compared to mornings and evenings for some people.

The Bottom Line

Cherries provide antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber that may promote heart health, reduce inflammation, enhance weight control, and improve diabetes management when eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet pattern.

Aim for 1–2 cups or about 12–21 cherries per day, being mindful of their carb content. Enjoy cherries in a variety of dishes and limit juice to 4–8 ounces (120–240 ml) daily.

Work with your healthcare team to personalize your daily intake based on your individual health goals, needs, medication regimen, and carb tolerance.

Monitor your blood sugar carefully when increasing intake, adjusting your diet as needed to maintain optimal levels.

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