Cherries are a popular fruit all across the world. They likely originated in Asia Minor, and birds initially spread their seeds to Europe before human civilization had even begun. English colonists brought them to North America in the 1600’s, and German traders brought them all the way to Japan in the 1800’s. Wherever they went, cherries became a hit.
Nowadays, many countries produce their own localized varieties. Bing and Rainier cherries come from North America, Kordia and Regina cherries come from Europe, and so on.
With such high popularity, it’s no surprise that cherries are popular both fresh and dried — people seem to crave cherries even when they aren’t in season.
Dried cherries have had a large amount of their moisture removed. This thickens their skin, protects them from decay, and concentrates their flavor and nutrients. When dried, cherries are more durable and longer-lasting, making them good for long hikes or a snack on the go.
Just how good for you are dried cherries, though? When you examine the nutritional value weighed against the calories and the sugar, can you even call them healthy? The answer isn’t quite cut and dry.
One-fourth cup of dried cherries contains approximately:
- Calories: 120
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 26 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugar: 17 grams
Like most fruits, dried cherries are good for helping you reach your daily recommended values of vitamins and minerals. They are an especially abundant source of vitamin A — more specifically, provitamin A, the most common variety of which is beta-carotene. One cup of dried cherries will give you nearly your entire daily value of provitamin A. They’re also a good source of:
Potential Health Benefits of Dried Cherries
There are several ways that dried cherries are thought to be beneficial to your health.
Getting adequate vitamin A in your diet is essential to keep your eyes healthy. A lack of vitamin A has been linked to night blindness, while a diet rich in vitamin A has been shown to prevent cataracts.
Reduced Measles Severity
While typically a rare disease, measles cases have been growing in recent years. Children with vitamin A deficiency are prone to more severe measles symptoms. Vitamin A deficient children, upon contracting measles, have been shown to have better outcomes if administered vitamin A supplements. This includes shortened episodes of fever and diarrhea.
Potential Risks of Dried Cherries
The biggest health concerns for dried cherries come from their high concentrations of sugar, carbs, and calories. Concentrating these nutrients is a natural by-product of the drying process.
When you remove water from fruit, you aren’t removing much of anything else. Instead, you’re pushing most of the nutrients into a smaller package. As a result, it’s recommended you reduce the serving size of any dried fruit by about 75% over its fresh counterpart.
The carbs and sugar in dried cherries mean people with diabetes may need to take extra care when incorporating them into their diet. Dried cherries should be accounted for in your meal plan, and the portion sizes should be small.
People looking to lose weight will want to keep a few things in mind about dried cherries. In spite of the fiber they contain, dried cherries aren’t known to be particularly filling. This means it’s easy to overeat, resulting in too many calories consumed. Some manufacturers will also sweeten their dried cherries, spiking the sugar content to potentially unhealthy levels.
Ultimately, there are few risks associated with dried cherries. They are especially good for satisfying your sweet tooth while delivering essential vitamins and nutrients. Just remember to enjoy them in moderation.
If you’re looking for fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin A but lower in sugar and calories, consider:
- Red bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Fresh grapefruit
- Fresh tangerines