Home » Ingredients » Cherries Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Cherries Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

Last Updated:


The cherry represents the fruit of some plants from the genus Prunus and is generally obtained from certain species. The name “cherry” may also refer to the tree and on some occasions is applied to almonds as well as flowering trees which are similar from a visual point.

These fruits grow in temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere, and there are two species that grow in America, three in Europe, and the rest in Asia. It was brought by Lucius Licinius Lucullus to Rome from Anatolia in 72 BC. The introduction of this tree in England was done near Sittingbourne from the order of Henry VIII who had a taste in Flanders. Its name comes from a place in ancient Rome, Cerasus, which is now a city in Turkey. The reason behind this is the fact that it was the first place in Europe in which its presence was reported.

There are two species of cherry trees that are commonly cultivated and these are the sour and the sweet cherry. The sour cherries are utilized mainly for cooking purposes. On harvesting, individuals use a mechanized “shaker” for commercial production.

Cherries Functions & Benefits

These fruits are used either for cooking or medicinal purposes due to their sweet taste. However, even as a raw fruit, it offers a low nutrient content per one hundred grams of serving. Among its contained nutrients, there are some vitamins and minerals which are supplied in levels lower than 10% of the daily recommended value and of which Vitamin C stands out. On the other hand, sour cherries provide higher amounts of vitamin C per 100 grams, approximately seventeen percent of the DV and also are a reliable Vitamin A source.

From a general point of view, the medical uses of cherries include prevention of cancer and diseases linked to the cardiovascular system, particularly the heart. Furthermore, some research points out that they can also be consumed for symptom relief of conditions like gout or osteoarthritis. There are studies that claim that among their properties, there is the ability to enhance the force field of the organism in the fight against free radicals, thus lowering the damage done by them and avoiding potential complications such as immunity problems or worsening of disorders linked to the nervous system, particularly the mind. Unfortunately, there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence that can support any of these claims, at least so far. Because of this, the possibility of not observing any type of effect on its utilization in the form of a dietary supplement exists.

On phytochemical research, scientists discovered that there are some red pigments which may positively affect pain as well as the inflammation mechanism. Although they remain under research, these anthocyanins can have other beneficial effects on the organism and if these are found, cherries will definitely be included by people in their daily diets.

Additionally, there was an article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sport Nutrition that pointed out the enhanced anti-inflammatory qualities of these fruits because it reduced muscular pain in fifty-four individuals that have participated in races led on long distances. It was also discovered that tart cherry juice helped people reduce their post-effort muscular pain if the consumption was done with several days before a competition.

Dr. Russel Reiter from the University of Texas revealed that cherries also contain melatonin, which represents a radical fighter that offers help to the body in its protection against oxidative damage and diseases associated with aging. Because of this, it is sometimes marketed as a sleep aid obtained from natural sources. Even though its effects can be spotted among adults who are only a little bit overstressed and can’t sleep because of some tiny concerns, when it comes to serious conditions like insomnia, these fruits have no effect whatsoever.


When consumed as food, these fruits are often regarded as safe for the majority of adults. However, its safety is unknown when the utilization is done in a medicinal way. In people who are usually sensitive and have some types of allergies, these fruits may cause allergic reactions. For pregnant or nursing women, eating the fruits is regarded as safe as long as the dosages don’t exceed the daily suggested amounts.

On the other hand, there was an article published in “Science and Nature” which lists these fruits are a “top 10 poisonous foods we love to eat.”. They point out that the problem is not the fruits, but the pit and the leaves of the tree. When a cherry tree is chewed, crushed or scrapped, it usually releases prussic acid, a constituent of hydrogen cyanide. Due to this feature, certain products that feature cherries such as jams may also contain traces of pits, thus being potentially toxic for the consumer. Fortunately, the amounts of poison in the cherry pits are pretty small and an accidental poisoning can easily be avoided by not chewing or swallowing pits.


Cherries can be naturally found in places of growth which include countries like Turkey, Iran, United States, Italy, Spain, Russia, Syria, Romania, Chile, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. The annual production raises at around two million tones and approximately forty percent of this comes from Europe. These fruits have been marketed as either a tasty food or for medicinal purposes. However, due to its sweet taste and smell, it has also been included in perfumes, soaps, gels, creams and other type of cosmetic products which are usually used by women.

After their beneficial effects were discovered, although most of them don’t rely on any study, cherries have started to be introduced by nutritional business on the supplementation market as an additional ingredient in the majority of cases, either to give a better taste to the remedy or as a sleep aid. Other medicinal uses include enhancement of the cardiovascular system and prevention of heart diseases like strokes or heart burns. In comparison to other ingredients which are included in dietary supplements for the same targets, cherries don’t possess sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, or fiber, thus they aren’t a preferred component and are rarely utilized in these ways.