In this article we will explore the nutritional profile of cherries to ascertain if and how they can be included in a keto-friendly environment. Be prepared to discover what wonders this fruit holds and follow through with ideas of what they can be eaten with as well as acceptable low-carb alternatives.
Cherries are the edible fruits of the trees under the genus Prunus. They are known as drupes in that they have a stone or a pit embedded within the flesh.
There are 3 main varieties of these fruits; sweet, sour and dukes, which are a cross between the two. The sweet variety is the most commonly consumed commercially and the main focus of this article.
The color of the fruits can vary between yellow to red and even as dark as black. Moderate climates are optimal for their cultivation.
The texture of the fruit is fleshy and the flavor is mild and sweet. The sweetness is due to the low acid content.
The table below presents you with the nutritional information of the macronutrients present in these fruits.
Serving size: 100 grams of cherries
Nutritionally speaking, cherries pack quite a powerful punch. They contain significant amounts of potassium, provitamin A as well as small amounts of other minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.
They are also rich in anthocyanins, a class of phenolic compounds responsible for the dark, reddish color of these and other colored fruits. Current research suggests that these compounds may also have antioxidative and other health promoting potential.
The simple answer is yes, you can! They are healthy and nutritious and can definitely be incorporated into your keto-friendly diet regimen.
As with most fruit, they do have moderate amounts of net carbs, so of course cannot be eaten with wild abandon.
But with careful planning and portion control, they are certainly acceptable.
Let’s work this one out. We know an average cherry weighs 8.2 g, this means each cherry will come with a cost of 1.14 g of net carbs.
Armed with this information, you now need to factor in how many grams of net carbs are you allowing yourself per day? Have you already hit that ceiling? Are you sure you want to spend your entire allowance on one snack?
Suppose you are eating 25 g of net carbs per day. It would be wise to allow between 5-7.5 g for a snack. In that case, you could eat something like 6 cherries as a snack with a total cost of 6.84 g of net carbs. This is a small but refreshing and nutritious snack.
The sweet, common variety is acceptable and keto-compliant when eaten with mindfulness and moderation.
Now sour cherries are definitely acceptable due to their low net carb content, however, many will find them difficult to eat due to the intense acidity.
Dukes may be easier to eat and are acceptable on a keto diet, but are seemingly difficult to find.
Are Maraschino cherries keto-friendly? I’m afraid the answer to that is a no-no. These delectfully bright-red, candy-sweet fruits contain 38.8g of net carbs per 100 g of product, due to the copious amounts of added sugar.
How about the canned variety? It would seem that canned sweet cherries contain very slightly less net carbs than the sweet raw variety we have been discussing. This means they could be eaten using the same guideline outlined above. That being said, the process does result in some nutrient loss. Take potassium as an example; canned variants only contain about half as much as the raw variety does.
Those canned in syrup however, will contain more net carbs and are best avoided.
The raw variety can be eaten on their own as a refreshing snack. They are also delicious cut up and mixed into some plain Greek yogurt. Alternatively, they can be baked as a filling in a keto-friendly cherry pie.
The most typical keto-friendly fruits are raspberries and blackberries (5.4 g and 4.3 g net carbs per 100 g, respectively), but as cherries are stone fruit, let’s examine three other stone fruits that are also acceptable on a keto diet when eaten in moderation.
Please see below for FAQ’s surrounding the consumption of these fruits on a keto diet.
A review article published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients found that cherry consumption had an overall effect in decreasing oxidative markers and inflammation in the body.
More specifically, consumption of these fruits had an effect in reducing blood pressure, arthritis, certain blood lipids and exercise induced muscle soreness. It also showed how consumption can improve sleep.
Per 100 g, cherries contain 12.8 g of sugar. This is high, which is why keto dieters are advised to eat them in small portions.
For example, eating 6 of these fruits as a snack will mean 6.3 g of sugar. As these are wholesome foods, with vitamins and fiber among other nutrients, this is still acceptable.
While they are like most other fruit and do contain moderate amounts of carbs, they can still be incorporated into your diet when practicing moderation.
Typical American grapes contain 16.3 g of net carbs per 100 g. This is a higher cost than cherries, so at face value it would seem the latter is a more appropriate choice.
There does not seem to be average data for such a product and is therefore brand-specific. It of course depends on what additives are used and what variety of fruit that are processed to make the juice.
As an example, let’s look at the Knudsen & Sons Inc brand of Just Black Cherry. This brand has no added ingredients and still comes at a cost of 15.2 g of net carbs per 100 ml. Be aware that this is less than half a cup! Other brands with added sugar may have even more carbs per cup, so in conclusion, it would seem that cherry juice is just not keto-compliant.
There does not seem to be any evidence of common side effects. There is of course the possibility of an allergic reaction, but that would usually affect similar fruit as well. Additionally, there is some evidence that eating too many cherry pits can cause cyanide poisoning, but if you stick to the fruit you should be fine.