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One of those difficult cravings to subdue during pregnancy is wanting to eat cherries to savor on those delicious yummy drupes on your sweet tooth or drink tart cherry juice while pregnant. One such other is Gatorade, with the common question of ‘can you drink Gatorade while pregnant?’
Similar questions also pop up for cherries; if you can drink tart cherry juice while pregnant, and is tart cherry juice safe for pregnancy?
While it is safe to eat cherries or drink tart cherry juice during pregnancy, it is vital to know all about cherries, including the benefits at different stages of pregnancy, and possible side effects, including allergies.
This article extensively covers cherry pit and unpitted cherries and their safety, and about eating other types of cherries like maraschino (sweetened cherry), red cherries, and tart cherry juice (sour cherry) while pregnant.
Origin of Cherries
Cherries are of several species, up to 24. However, two species are the common types available in commercial quantities – sweet and sour (or tart) cherries.
They are native to Europe, Western Asia, and some parts of Northern Africa and have now become naturalized in North America and Australia.
Common Types of Cherries that are Good for Pregnancy
Sweet and Tart (sour) Cherries:
These are commercially available cherries. They differ greatly. While sweet cherries have darker pigmentation and sometimes purple to black coloring, tart cherries have a bright red color.
Sweet cherries are primarily available/sold fresh and during the summer. Tart cherries are often processed into tart cherry juice, dried cherries, or sold frozen.
Sweet and tart cherries are safe to eat when pregnant.
Maraschino Cherries During Pregnancy
Maraschino cherry is a type of sweetened cherry produced from light-colored sweet cherries that have been preserved in a brine containing sulfur dioxide and calcium to bleach the fruit and then soaked in food coloring, sugar syrup, and other ingredients.
Nutrient Contents of Cherry
There is a distinct difference between sweet and sour cherries regarding their nutritional content.
While the sweet cherry provides dietary fiber and vitamins, including Vit. C and other dietary minerals in moderate quantity per 100 g serving – less than 10% of Daily Value each, the sour cherries (tart cherry) provide 50% more Vit. C per 100 g serving and about 20 more times Vit. A and beta-Carotene than sweet cherries.
Nutritional Daily Value (DV) per 100 g serving of red raw sour cherries;
64 μg (8% DV)
770 μg (7% DV)
10 mg (12% DV)
2.1 μg (2% DV)
16 mg (2% DV)
0.32 mg (2% DV)
9 mg (3% DV)
0.112 mg (5% DV)
15 mg (2% DV)
173 mg (4% DV)
3 mg (0% DV)
0.1 mg (1% DV)
Nutritional Daily Value (DV) per 100 g serving of red raw sweet cherries;
3 μg (0% DV)
38 μg (0% DV)
7 mg (8% DV)
2.1 μg (2% DV)
13 mg (1% DV)
0.36 mg (3% DV)
11 mg (3% DV)
0.07 mg (3% DV)
21 mg (3% DV)
222 mg (4% DV)
0 mg (0% DV)
0.07 mg (1% DV)
Cherry Benefits in Pregnancy
(1.) Improves muscle contraction – the potassium content of cherries plays a vital role in enhancing your body’s muscle contraction (4,5) and nerve communication, which are very important when pregnant.
(2.) Improves sleep-wake cycle – cherries, especially sour cherries (tart cherry juice), are very rich (the highest) in Melatonin. Melatonin, a hormone produced in the body, regulates sleep-wake cycles (night and day cycles), thereby improving your sleep (1,2). Getting good enough sleep while pregnant is not only good for you and your baby but also enhances your labor and delivery.
(3.) Regulates healthy blood pressure level – potassium also helps in regulating optimal blood pressure level by removing excess sodium from your body, thereby regulating your blood pressure level. This is very important when pregnant as the stress and sourness of pregnancy can increase the risk of HBP, which isn’t healthy for you and your baby.
Side Effects of Eating Cherries While Pregnant
Cherries can cause gas and bloat – naturally, when pregnant, you have more progesterone in your system, which may make you experience more gas and bloating. Eating cherries can further contribute to this.
Cherries contain a high amount of fructose (sugars) and sorbitol, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps at doses of 5-20 g per day.
Consuming more than 20 g of sorbitol per day can cause you to have diarrhea.
(1.) Cherries can trigger PFAS allergy – consuming tart cherry juice while pregnant can trigger oral allergy syndrome (OAS) in people with pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS) (6).
Cherries and many other fruits usually trigger birch pollen allergies.
Symptoms of PFAS include an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, or swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat.
All these are so much to bear with the stress of pregnancy alone. So, you want to be careful of your allergies before consuming cherries during pregnancy.
(2.) Cherries may induce cyanide production/poisoning in the body – cyanide, a dangerous gas that prevents cells of the body from using oxygen, affecting the heart and brain, can induce coma in a person or cause loss of consciousness at lower doses.
Cherry pits, the hard stone in the center of cherries, contain a chemical compound called amygdalin (= prussic acid, also known as cyanide). When consumed, the body converts to hydrogen cyanide.
However, cyanide is only formed when you chew on the pit before swallowing. Therefore, if you accidentally swallow one unbruised whole cherry pit, you are safe. It will just pass through your digestive system intact.
However, eating more than two pits (7) can be fatal.
Precautions to Take When Eating Cherries or Drinking Tart Juice
Before consuming cherries, you need to be aware of your health status when pregnant and the state of your pregnancy, if low-risk or high-risk.
- If you have any allergies, particularly birch pollen, you should avoid cherries.
- If you already experience gas and bloating as a result of your pregnancy, you may want to avoid cherry all the same.
How to Manage Digestive Problems When you eat Cherries
If you still desire to eat cherries while pregnant to give in to your cravings, here are tips that can be helpful:
- Eat in moderation: as they say, too much of everything is not good. Since cherries contain a high amount of sorbitol, you want to consume a little cherry juice. Say you start with as little as ¼ and watch the reaction. You can later up it to ½ cup, but no more than that.
- Eat them along with something else: avoid eating cherries on an empty stomach. The fructose in cherries tends to draw water into your digestive system, which then causes bloat. Ensure to eat cherries with other foods with little or no fructose, such as cheese, oats, nuts, and seeds.
- Other food triggers to avoid: eating other food that can trigger these digestive problems alongside cherries should be avoided. Examples include:
- Fruits such as apples (including apple cider vinegar), pears, and peaches.
- Vegetables such as asparagus, onion, and garlic.
- Dairy products such as cow milk, yogurt, and ice cream.
While cherries and tart cherry juice are packed with excellent nutritional contents and are safe to take during pregnancy, their Daily Value percentage per 100gram servings is relatively low. As such, you may need to supplement these with other foods richly packed with beneficial nutrients.
Cherries may serve to meet your cravings and nothing more.
While Cherries are packed with excellent nutritional contents and are safe to take during pregnancy, their Daily Value percentage per 100 g serving is relatively low. As such, you may need to supplement these with other foods richly packed with beneficial nutrients.
Cherries may just serve to meet your cravings and nothing more.
(1,2) Melatonin: (1) Cherry Juice Supplies Melatonin and Improves Sleep; (2) Melatonin use during pregnancy
(3) Cardiovascular health: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cherry extract
(6) PFAS: Pollen food allergy syndrome
(7) Cherry pit poisoning: A man ate three cherry pits