All About Those Cherries

As a registered dietitian, I always love learning new things about different types of fruits and vegetables. Here are some fun facts about cherries!

1. How many types of cherries are there?

While there are many varieties of cherries, there are two main types: sweet and sour (or sometimes called tart). While both are packed with nutrients, sour cherries are more nutrient dense (more nutrients with fewer calories).

2. Can cherries act as a sleep aid?

Tart cherries are one of nature’s sources of melatonin, which helps regulates the sleep cycle. Researchers believe it’s the combination of melatonin and the anthocyanins in tart cherries that might help you sleep better at night.1,2,3

3. Are cherries a good choice for someone with diabetes? 

While the treatment and diet plan for every diabetic is different, cherries can be a great addition to most types of diets. Be sure to work with your doctor and registered dietitian to figure out how to add these nutrient powerhouses into your diet.

4. Is it true that tart cherries can help reduce muscle soreness after exercise?

Tart cherries are high in anthocyanins, an antioxidant that gives them their vibrant red color and can help reduce inflammation. Also, because of the anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries specifically, many athletes drink tart cherry juice to help ease muscle soreness and assist with faster recovery. 4

5. Can cherries be poisonous? 

You would have to eat A TON of cherries AND their pits in order for any chance of poisoning to occur and even then it is very unlikely. Moral of the story? Avoid the pits.

cherries graphic 500x500


  1. Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. European Journal of Nutrition. 2012;51:909-916. 
  2. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: A pilot study. J Med Food 2010;13:579-583. 
  3. Liu AG, Tipton RC, Pan W, Finley JW, Prudente A, Karki N, Losso JN, Greenway FL. Tart Cherry Juice Increases Sleep Time in Older Adults with Insomnia. Experimental Biology 2014. San Diego, CA. April 28, 2014.
  4. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports. 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52.

“Tart” by Andrew McFarlane is licensed under CC BY NC 2.0