Cherries are a fruit that may possess many health benefits. Evidence notes that it is safe for a person with diabetes to consume cherries and they may help control blood sugar levels as part of a healthy eating plan.

Diabetes is a health condition that occurs when people are unable to produce or effectively use the hormone insulin. This can impact their blood sugar levels and make it difficult to keep them within suitable target ranges.

To help control blood sugar levels, people may make dietary changes and be conscious of the amount of carbohydrates they consume. Most fruits, such as cherries, contain sugar and are safe for people with diabetes to eat. However, it is important to be mindful of portion sizes and how much they consume.

Read on to learn more about cherries and diabetes.

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It is safe for people with diabetes to eat cherries. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) lists cherries as a food encouraged when a person is following a low glycemic index (GI) diet. A low GI diet can help people control their blood sugar levels.

The GI is a rating system for foods that contain carbohydrates. Foods with a low GI release glucose slowly into a person’s blood. This raises a person’s blood sugar level more slowly than foods with a high GI. This can help a person living with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels, as they should not spike, and remain more stable.

Cherries have a low GI. Researchers have shown that low-GI diets are more effective in controlling blood sugar levels than high-GI diets.

Cherries are low in fat and a good source of fiber and vitamin C. The ADA recommends consuming foods high in vitamins and fiber. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests foods rich in fiber may be important in preventing or managing diabetes. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate present in fruits such as cherries.

Cherries are also a food rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins. These are naturally occurring pigments found in many flowers, fruits, and plants.

A 2018 review suggests that anthocyanins may slow down glucose production from the carbohydrates a person eats. This can decrease a person’s blood sugar levels and prevent them from going too high.

The review also indicates that cherries could help increase insulin production. Both these effects suggest that consuming cherries could promote healthy blood sugar regulation.

However, the researchers also note that more research is necessary to investigate if this can reduce a person’s risk of diabetes.

Similarly, a 2020 review indicates that anthocyanins may help insulin and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. They also note that sweet cherries have a low GI. This makes cherries, as well as other low- to medium-GI fruits, a suitable snack for people with diabetes.

Scientists have also investigated the beneficial effects of eating cherries using rats with type 2 diabetes. A 2018 study notes that cherries may decrease the risk of developing diabetes by reducing fat accumulation and body weight, improving the regulation of glucose and insulin, and helping prevent diabetic complications.

Evidence suggests that cherries may also possess other health benefits, such as:

  • improving sleep
  • improving cognitive function
  • reducing arthritis symptoms
  • aiding recovery after strenuous exercise

In addition to health benefits, cherries may also have side effects for some people. Cherries are rich in naturally occurring acids called salicylates. People may have a food allergy or intolerance of salicylates. If so, they may have gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat large quantities of cherries, such as:

  • diarrhea
  • bloating
  • excess gas
  • abdominal pain

People can add cherries to their diet by eating them:

  • as part of a fruit salad
  • with oatmeal or cereal as part of breakfast
  • as a snack
  • as part of fruit smoothies

Cherries are a healthy fruit that people living with diabetes can safely consume as part of a healthy eating plan. Cherries are a low GI fruit, which can help people to regulate their blood sugar levels more effectively. Cherries are also rich in recommended nutrients for diabetes, such as vitamin C and fiber.

Researchers have shown that the anthocyanins in cherries have antioxidant properties. These properties may help people with diabetes manage blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.