Regular cherries can be a nice diet addition for many people. However, eating their dried version can come with a few disadvantages.
Dried cherries are simply regular cherries with a lot of the water removed. While this sounds and is simple, it does make a big difference in nutrients per 100 grams and in turn, the effects of eating this food.
The disadvantages below do not mean nobody should ever have dried cherries again. At the same time, you don’t want to know what some potential effects are of eating them.
1. Less water
This first disadvantage of dried cherries is relatively straightforward but important to emphasize since this plays an important role in many other effects.
As the name implies, dried cherries will contain a lot less water. One example brand of dried cherries contains around 19 grams of water per 100 grams (1).
On the other side, regular cherries contain around 86.1 grams of water per 100 grams which is about 4.5 times more (2).
Some of the other points will go into more specific effects of this. However, to start off, consuming enough water is simply beneficial for your overall health (3).
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend (4):
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men
These recommendations include fluids from foods like (dried) cherries.
And while the numbers may not be perfect for your body size and habits, they do give some inspiration for daily goals.
2. High(er) blood sugar spike
Eating most foods raises your blood sugar levels at least to some extent. This is not necessarily always bad but having high blood sugar over time currently seems to negatively influence health in humans (5, 6).
By drying cherries, you also make it so they raise your blood sugar more. There are a few ways to measure to what extent.
First of all, there is something called the glycemic index. This comes down to how much eating an amount (typically 50 grams of carbohydrates) of a food after a 12-hour fast raises your blood sugar 2 hours after eating.
Regular cherries already have a glycemic index of 54 which is considered medium (7). Dried cherries are a bit higher than that with a glycemic index of 58.
This may not sound like much of a difference but there is also something called glycemic load which takes portion sizes into account.
You can calculate that a portion of 1 cup without pits (= 155 grams) of regular cherries has a glycemic load of about 8.9.
On the other hand, a portion of 40 grams of dried cherries has a glycemic load of about 16.2. Less than 10 is considered low but more than 20 is high.
In short, one of the disadvantages of dried cherries is that they raise your blood sugar a decent amount.
For healthy people, a few portions should be okay. However, having elevated sugar levels for extended periods of time seems to be bad for human health.
3. Generally not as effective against hunger
One of the benefits of water is that it helps you feel fuller. Removing a lot of the water also removes the hunger reduction that comes from this.
Additionally, foods like dried cherries that initially raise your blood sugar a lot can cause an overcompensation of insulin.
If this happens and leads to a subsequent dip in blood sugar, aka a blood sugar crash, you could get hungry even though you recently ate a lot of nutrients (8).
Dried cherries do compensate for these things to some extent due to the hunger reduction effects of the higher fiber content.
However, most people will find dried cherries a lot easier to overeat than regular ones and many other whole foods anyway.
4. Many brands add sugar
So far, the nutrition values used for the dried cherries were from an unsweetened brand.
However, another disadvantage of this type of food is that many brands add extra sugar on top of the already relatively high carbohydrate content.
An example of unsweetened dried cherries contains 77.5 grams of carbohydrates which includes 7.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams (1).
On the other hand, an example brand of sweetened dried cherries contains 80.4 grams of carbohydrates which includes 2.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams (9).
Since high blood sugar and high sugar intakes seem to be bad for human health, these brands of sweetened dried cherries are generally not recommended.
You can avoid these by carefully checking the nutrition labels of the brands you are considering and ordering online from dried cherry brands that don’t add sugar.
5. Could be too high in fiber and other nutrients
Big changes in the composition of your diet can lead to gastric distress. This can also happen when switching from an unhealthy diet without much fiber to a healthy diet with a lot of fiber in a short amount of time.
If dried cherries have a completely different nutrient composition than the foods you normally eat, they can lead to the issues mentioned above.
Especially if you are not used to eating a lot of fiber and/or carbohydrates, you want to be careful about eating a lot of cherries in a short amount of time.
In a situation like that, you could gradually increase the amounts of dried cherries you eat over time if eating bigger quantities is your goal.
6. Could influence gut composition negatively
There are a variety of microbes living in your intestines, aka your microbiome. What types are present and in what quantities can in turn influence your own health.
Lifestyle habits like the things you eat have an impact on these microbes.
Recent investigations imply that high amounts of sugar consumption can change your microbiota in a way that causes more inflammation (10). This is generally not good for your overall health.
Additionally, sugar can reduce the quality of the mucosal lining of the intestines which is again generally not good for your health.
Dried cherries are not the worst food ever when it comes to sugar content but there are definitely many options that are better. Including regular cherries.
On the other hand, dried cherries do have some fiber which seems to be good for gut health (11). However, even with this in mind, you likely want to go for other foods if good gut health is your main goal.
7. Can lead to weight gain
Excess body fat tends to cause negative effects on health. It is possible to overdo it but many people would benefit in terms of health by losing some body fat or at least controlling their weight.
One common reason for excess body fat is finding it hard to control food portions.
A disadvantage of dried cherries relating to this is that it is a lot easier to overeat them compared to the same amount of calories in regular cherries and many other fruits and foods.
One of the main reasons for how easy it is to overeat dried cherries is the reduction of water intake since water can help you feel fuller.
Additionally, consuming more water actually helps you burn a few extra calories. You miss out on a bit of this by choosing dried cherries.
Lastly, the bigger blood sugar spikes from dried cherries could lead to blood sugar crashes which can increase hunger.
In turn, this makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose weight.