Eating cherries is generally good for you and a source of important health benefits, including prebiotic benefits and benefits for gums and teeth health, blood pressure, arthritis pain, constipation and even weight loss. High in water and a source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9, vitamins C and K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and iron, but also dietary fiber and a range of antioxidants, they are one of the healthiest fruits to eat.
But no food is absolutely devoid of side effects, no matter how minor, cherries included. Whether we’re talking about the more common red cherries, yellow cherries, white cherries or black cherries, know that the fruit can be a source of side effects for health, albeit generally minor. The bulk of side effects are a result of overeating and are typically self-resolving, provided consumption of the fruit is discontinued in a timely manner. There are however side effects that are not dose-dependent and pose serious health risks. Read on to find out what are the negative health effects of eating cherries.
1- Stomach upset
Eating cherries can cause stomach upset in some people. If your stomach hurts after eating cherries, then it’s likely you’ve overeaten and/or are simply more sensitive to various components in the fruit such as dietary fiber, the sugar fructose, sugar alcohols (e.g. sorbitol, mannitol). In rare cases, the stomach upset may be a sign of an allergic reaction to the fruit, in which case other symptoms more specific to an allergic reaction will likely follow (e.g. a rash with swollen, red, itchy bumps, wheezing and some degree of breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat).
While uncommon, it’s possible to experience heartburn after eating too many cherries. Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest or a burning pain-type of sensation that can be mistaken for a heart attack because of its location. Heartburn is the result of stomach acid escaping into the esophagus where it produces irritation and a burning sensation, hence the name heart-burn. Frequent heartburn occurs in acid reflux disease (also known as GERD) and can be triggered by many foods.
While cherries are not normally a trigger food in acid reflux disease, if the condition is allowed to progress and become chronic, otherwise healthy foods such as cherries can, in rare cases, trigger an episode, especially if eaten in excessive amounts. The cause might be the high fiber intake from the cherries or, in the case of more acidic varieties, the organic acids present naturally in the fruit.
What’s interesting is that cherry juice, whether sweet or tart cherry juice, almost always causes some degree of acid reflux and heartburn. Fruit juices in general are contraindicated in active acid reflux disease. Find out more about cherries and GERD.
3- Gastritis flareup
Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining and can be acute or chronic. If you’re dealing with gastritis, then it’s probably not the best idea to start eating cherries right now, especially not large amounts or every day. It’s known that some of the healthiest foods you can eat can cause gastritis flareups, for example: cabbage, bell peppers, tomatoes, bananas, cucumbers or cherries and other fruits and vegetables, especially those that are normally eaten with skin.
When it comes to cherries and gastritis, the culprit for the flareups is the high fiber content of the fruit or, in the case of more the more acidic sour cherry varieties, also the naturally occurring organic acids in the fruit. Both high amounts of fiber and organic acids further irritate the stomach lining, resulting in flareups. Learn what foods to eat and to avoid with gastritis to better control your symptoms and cure your gastritis.
4- Nausea and vomiting
It’s rare and unusual to experience nausea and vomiting as a result of eating cherries. However, these side effects are possible. Nausea and vomiting may occur if, for example, a person has an adverse reaction to pesticides on and in the fruit. Another possible cause is cherry allergy. Although apparently unrelated, nausea and vomiting are symptoms of an allergic reaction.
If you also develop a rash and/or breathing is affected somehow after eating cherries, in addition to the nausea and vomiting , seek medical help immediately. Cherry allergy can easily and quickly progress to anaphylactic shock which is a medical emergency and life threatening.
5- Allergic reaction
Cherry allergy is rare when compared to other food allergies such as soy allergy, egg allergy, milk allergy or sesame seed allergy. However, it is possible to have a cherry allergy. Symptoms may be restricted to the mouth and throat in what is known as oral allergy syndrome and include tingling or itching of the lips, mouth and throat, but also swelling of the lips, tongue or throat. The swelling can be so severe it restricts breathing and thus requires immediate medical intervention (similar to anaphylaxis).
Cherry allergy can also present with systemic symptoms including skin symptoms (hives with red, itchy bumps and swelling), symptoms affecting the eyes, nose and ears (itchy, watery, red eyes; itchy and runny nose with abundant clear or white mucus discharge; itchy ears and swelling of the ears), respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, closing of the airways), cardiovascular (low blood pressure, shortness of breath), neurological (headaches, agitation, fainting, seizures, loss of consciousness), digestive (nausea, vomiting, loose stools and diarrhea) and, ultimately, anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical assistance.
6- Bloating, excessive burping and gas
Bloating, excessive burping and gas are fairly common side effects of eating cherries. Some people experience bloating, burping and gas only after eating too many cherries, while others may experience such side effects irrespective of intake. Possible causes include a high intake of fiber or sensitivity or intolerance to certain constituents in the fruit such as the sugar fructose or sugar alcohols in cherries such as sorbitol, mannitol or others.
7- Loose stools and diarrhea
Loose stools and diarrhea are fairly common side effects associated with (over)eating cherries. A too high a intake provides significant amounts of dietary fiber which causes a faster transit and loose stools and even diarrhea. Diarrhea can occur even with otherwise reasonable intakes as a result of a sensitivity or intolerance to various components in the fruit, typically the sugar fructose or the sugar alcohols sorbitol, mannitol etc.
In rare cases, diarrhea after eating cherries can be a sign of a cherry allergy. If you experience stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, loose stools and diarrhea, but also a rash, itching or tingling in the mouth or throat, swelling of the tongue or throat, closing of the airways, wheezing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, know these are symptoms of an allergic reaction and you should seek medical help immediately.
Cherries can cause both diarrhea and constipation, but constipation is far less common of a side effect. When it does occur, constipation as a result of eating cherries is caused by overeating, eating cherries with pits (which is not recommended) or a sensitivity or intolerance to components occurring naturally in the fruits (e.g. sugar alcohols). Find out more about cherries and diarrhea and constipation.
9- IBS flareups with diarrhea
If you have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), you might experience flareups in your condition if you eat or overeat cherries. Symptoms most commonly include loose stools and diarrhea, but also bloating, excessive burping, gas or flatulence, stomach pain, painful abdominal cramps and non-digestive symptoms such as malaise and fatigue. The negative effects are a result of a sensitivity or intolerance to components occurring naturally in the fruit such as sugar alcohols sorbitol, mannitol and others. Different people may tolerate different amounts of cherries without side effects.
This post was updated on Saturday / July 3rd, 2021 at 7:09 PM