Baskets of cherries and blueberries

Cherries vs Blueberries: Nutrition and Health Benefits 

Picture this: it’s a warm summer day, and you are at a local farmers’ market surrounded by vibrant colors and the enticing aroma of fresh fruit. Two contenders catch your eye: cherries vs blueberries. Which do you choose? 

As a dietitian, I love both cherries and blueberries. But let’s discuss some of the benefits of each and see which berry takes the crown.

Cherries vs Blueberries Nutrition

Let’s kick things off with a closer look at these two nutritional powerhouses – cherries and blueberries.

Two cherries on an aqua background

Cherries are not just delicious; they’re nutritional gems. Packed with vitamins and minerals, these red beauties bring a lot to the table. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrient value of 1 cup (about 154 grams) of raw, pitted sweet cherries (1):

  • Calories: 97
  • Protein: 1.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 22.1 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.2 grams
  • Sugars: 18.9 grams
  • Vitamin C: 10 mg or just over 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium: 342 mg or about 10% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: about 5% of the DV

Cherries are also rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which give them their vibrant color. These antioxidants are associated with lots of potential benefits, including reducing inflammation, protecting against heart disease, and promoting better sleep.

Additionally, cherries have a relatively low glycemic index, which means they are less likely to cause a drastic spike in blood sugar levels compared to some other fruits. This makes them a good option if you are prioritizing healthy blood sugar levels.

Overall, cherries are a nutritious fruit that you can enjoy fresh, frozen, or dried, and they offer a range of health benefits along with their delicious flavor.

And now on to blueberries!

Bowl of blueberries surrounded by blueberries

Blueberries are renowned for their nutritional density. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrient value of one cup of blueberries (approximately 148 grams raw) (2):

  • Calories: 84
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 21.4 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.6 grams
  • Sugars: 14.7 grams
  • Vitamin C: 14 mg or about 20% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 28 micrograms or about 30% of the DV
  • Manganese: 0.5 mg or about 25% of the DV

Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants (the highest amount of any fruit!), particularly anthocyanins, which give them their deep blue color. These antioxidants help reduce inflammation, support heart health, and improve cognitive function. 

Blueberries are a versatile and nutritious fruit that you can enjoy fresh, frozen, or incorporated into a variety of dishes (see below for some suggestions!), making them a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

Cherries vs Blueberries Benefits

Now that we’ve seen the impressive nutritional profiles of both cherries and blueberries, let’s pit (pun intended!) them against each other in a health showdown.

Both cherries and blueberries offer significant health benefits due to their rich antioxidant content and unique nutritional profiles. Cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, potential pain relief, and natural melatonin content, which may aid in improving sleep quality. 

On the other hand, blueberries are renowned for their antioxidant power, potential brain health benefits, and protective effects on heart health markers. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Fresh cherries

Health Benefits of Cherries

Cherries have anti-inflammatory properties, making them a potential ally in managing conditions like arthritis. Moreover, cherries have been linked to improved sleep quality due to their natural melatonin content.

Cherries are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, anthocyanins, and quercetin, which help combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. 

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging processes such as inflammation, oxidative stress, and DNA damage. 

Regular consumption of cherries may reduce oxidative stress which can contribute to overall health and reduce your chronic disease risk, lowering chances of developing things like heart disease and cancer (3).

Cherries contain compounds like vitamin C, anthocyanins, and flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation in the body increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and other chronic disease.

Studies have shown that eating cherries decreases inflammation (3). 

Want to know about other anti-inflammatory foods? Get your own FREE Printable Food List for An Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

Tart cherries, in particular, have been studied for their potential to reduce muscle soreness and post-exercise pain due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Some research suggests that tart cherry juice consumption may reduce post-workout muscle pain and help athletes recover faster from strenuous exercise (4).

A recent study found that fruit juice, including cherry juice, increases the amount of polyphenols in your diet, and thus helps reduce your risk of sleep disorders (5). 

Cherries, particularly tart cherries, are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that plays an important role in your sleep-wake cycles. Consuming cherries or cherry juice has been shown to increase melatonin levels in the body and improve sleep duration and quality (6).

Although additional research is needed, current evidence suggests that cherries may promote healthy glucose regulation (3). This is great news if you have insulin resistance, diabetes, or are watching your blood sugar. 

Want to know some more reasons to eat cherries? They may also lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and decrease arthritis and gout attacks (3). Phew – now that is one magical fruit!

Since now you know all the great health benefits of cherries, you may be wondering, which of the various forms is the better choice, juice or dietary supplements? Well, to find out you can check out our article Tart Cherry Juice vs Capsules: Which One is Better?

And now let’s see what health benefits blueberries have to offer!

Hand holding bunch of blueberries

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Regular consumption of blueberries may contribute to improved cognitive function, heart health, and even anti-aging effects. The fiber content in blueberries also aids in digestion and supports a healthy gut.

Blueberries have some of the highest antioxidant effects of any fruit (7). The antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

The antioxidant benefits of blueberries are attributed mainly to their anthocyanins. Anthocyanins also affect the color of a fruit, giving blueberries their beautiful blue hue!

And maybe you have been wondering about the antioxidants in wild blueberries vs cultivated blueberries? Wild blueberries do have higher levels of antioxidants.

However, while they may have slightly lower levels of certain antioxidants, cultivated blueberries remain rich in nutrients and are more widely available, and often less expensive than wild blueberries. So wild or regular, eat your blueberries!

Blueberries may help improve heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing LDL cholesterol levels, and improving overall vascular function. The rich antioxidant content of blueberries contributes to these cardiovascular benefits (8). 

The positive effects of blueberries on lipids and blood pressure also means they may help decrease risk of developing metabolic syndrome (9).

The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to have a positive effect on cognitive function, memory and attention (10).

Consuming blueberries regularly may help maintain brain health and support optimal cognitive function throughout life, protecting against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (11).

Blueberries can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, supporting digestive health and regularity. Including blueberries in your diet may contribute to a healthy gut microbiome and improve digestive function (12).

And because there is a close link between your gut health and the health of your skin, the positive effects blueberries have on your gut may also help your skin (13).

Eating blueberries may also decrease your risk of diabetes, reduce body weight, and protect your eyesight (14). Fist pump ✊ for the state fruit of New Jersey!

Want to see how blueberries stack up against another fruit? Check out our article Elderberry vs Blueberry: Nutrition and Health Benefits.

Now that we’ve talked about the health benefits, let’s talk about the delicious foods that you can make with cherries and blueberries.

Cherry streudel and bowl of cherries

Cherries vs Blueberries in the Kitchen

Both cherries and blueberries are great additions to your snacking, cooking, and baking.

Sweet cherries are the stars of countless desserts from classic cherry pies to decadent tarts and crisps. Their natural sweetness and juiciness make them the best cherry varieties for baking, and they pair exceptionally well with chocolate.

Tart cherries bring a unique tanginess to the table, making them ideal for savory dishes. Imagine a succulent cherry balsamic glaze over grilled chicken or a refreshing tart cherry salsa to elevate your fish tacos. The possibilities are as endless as your culinary creativity.

Blueberries are breakfast champions, finding their way into pancakes, muffins, and cereals. The burst of sweetness and vibrant color they add make your morning meal not only nutritious but visually appealing.

Don’t let their sweet reputation fool you – blueberries can shine in savory dishes too. Toss them into salads for a burst of freshness, or simmer them into a rich barbecue sauce to drizzle over grilled meats. The juxtaposition of sweet and savory is a culinary adventure worth taking.

So if you want some cherries and blueberries in your kitchen, where and when can you get them?

Cherries vs Blueberries: Seasonality and Accessibility

You know how delicious cherries and blueberries are in food, so let’s talk about when they’re available and how easy they are to get.

Bunch of cherries growing on a tree

Cherries’ Limited Engagement

Cherries are native to regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and have a rich history in many cultures.

The modern sweet cherry, Prunus avium, is believed to have first grown in the area around the Black Sea, which includes present-day Turkey. From there, cherries spread throughout Europe and into other parts of the world through trade and cultivation.

Today, cherries are cultivated in many countries with suitable climates, including the United States (particularly states like Washington, Oregon, and California), Canada, Turkey, Spain, Italy, and various countries in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. 

These regions have the right climate and soil conditions to support cherry cultivation on a commercial scale.

The growing season for cherries is relatively short, typically peaking in late spring to early summer. Depending on your location, fresh cherries might be a seasonal treat. However, fear not – frozen cherries are a convenient alternative that retains much of their nutritional value.

Blueberries growing on a bush

Blueberries: The Summer Superstars

Blueberries are native to North America, where they have been growing wild for thousands of years. They are indigenous to regions of North America, including the United States and Canada. Native American tribes used blueberries as a staple food and for medicinal purposes.

Over time, cultivated varieties of blueberries have been developed, and today, they are commercially grown in various regions around the world with suitable climates, including North America, Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia.

The United States is one of the largest producers of blueberries globally. Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon all grow blueberries. These states have the best growing conditions and climates to support the cultivation of blueberries on a large scale.

Blueberries have a longer growing season, with many regions enjoying a bountiful harvest throughout the summer. This makes fresh blueberries widely available during the warmer months. Blueberry picking season in New Jersey is always a summer highlight for me!

Like cherries, frozen blueberries offer a year-round option for enjoying their goodness.

Fresh vs Frozen Debate

While fresh cherries and blueberries are delightful when in season, frozen varieties can be just as nutritious. The freezing process preserves the vitamins and antioxidants, making them a convenient and accessible choice for year-round enjoyment.

How to Freeze Fresh Cherries and Blueberries

Want to preserve that summer delight? It’s easy to freeze fresh cherries and blueberries, just follow these steps.

Freezing Fresh Cherries

Prepare the Cherries. Start by washing the cherries thoroughly under cold running water. Remove any stems and pits using a cherry pitter or a small knife. You can leave the cherries whole or slice them in half depending on your preference.

Blanch the Cherries (optional). Blanching cherries before freezing can help preserve their color and texture. To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully add the cherries. 

Let them boil for about 1-2 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the cherries well.

Spread on a Baking Sheet. Arrange the prepared cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure the cherries are not touching each other to prevent them from sticking together.

Flash Freeze. Place the baking sheet with the cherries in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until they are firm.

Transfer to Freezer Bags or Containers. Once the cherries are frozen solid, place them in freezer-safe bags or airtight containers. Remove any excess air from the bags before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Label with the date and contents.

Store in the Freezer. Place the sealed bags or containers of cherries in the freezer, ensuring they are stored flat to prevent them from getting crushed. Frozen cherries can be stored for up to 6-12 months.

Freezing Fresh Blueberries

Prepare the Blueberries. Rinse the blueberries under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Spread on a Baking Sheet. Spread the dry blueberries in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure the blueberries are not clumped together.

Flash Freeze. Place the baking sheet with the blueberries in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until they are firm.

Transfer to Freezer Bags or Containers. Once the blueberries are frozen, place them in freezer-safe bags or airtight containers. Remove any excess air from the bags before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Label with the date and contents.

Store in the Freezer. Place the sealed bags or containers of blueberries in the freezer, ensuring they are stored flat. Frozen blueberries can be stored for up to 6-12 months.

By following these simple steps, you can freeze fresh cherries and blueberries to enjoy throughout the year.

Blueberry muffins on a plate

Tips for Berry Bliss

Before we wrap up this juicy exploration, let’s delve into some practical tips for adding cherries and blueberries into your diet.

Blend up a refreshing smoothie by combining your favorite berries with yogurt, leafy greens, and a splash of almond milk. It’s a quick and tasty way to kickstart your day with a burst of nutrients.

Keep a bowl of fresh or frozen berries on hand for a wholesome and satisfying snack. Whether you prefer the sweet juiciness of cherries or the pop of blueberries, these bite-sized treats are nature’s candy.

Elevate your salads by tossing in a handful of berries. Crisp greens, savory toppings, and the burst of sweetness from cherries or blueberries create a symphony of flavors.

Mix cherries or blueberries with rolled oats, milk, yogurt, and your favorite toppings. Let sit overnight in the fridge for a quick and nutritious breakfast option.

Woman eating yogurt with blueberries

Cherries vs Blueberries: The Verdict

The good news is, in our cherries vs blueberries comparison, both are winners! Your best choice depends on your preferences and nutritional priorities. 

If you are looking for better sleep or recovery from exercise, cherries with their unique blend of sweetness and tartness may be your winner. On the other hand, blueberries may be for you if you are more concerned about brain or skin health.

As we conclude this berrylicious journey, remember that the real victory lies in embracing variety. So, the next time you find yourself facing the delightful dilemma of cherries vs blueberries, why not enjoy both? Your taste buds will thank you!

Frequently Asked Questions About Cherries vs Blueberries

While both cherries and blueberries are good sources of dietary fiber, blueberries have a slightly higher fiber content per serving.

Both cherries and blueberries can be included in a diabetic-friendly diet in moderation. Both fruits have relatively low glycemic indexes, which means they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels compared to other high-carbohydrate foods.

Both cherries and blueberries can be part of a weight loss diet due to their low-calorie content, high fiber content, and nutrient density. 

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, including cherries and blueberries, can help promote satiety, support overall health, and contribute to successful weight management. 

However, it’s essential to pair fruit consumption with a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and other healthy lifestyle habits for optimal weight loss results.

Both cherries and blueberries offer valuable nutrients and antioxidants that can contribute to a healthy immune system, including vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

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