This Is What Happens When You Eat Too Many Cherries

Bake them into a pie, throw them in a smoothie, add them on top of oatmeal... it doesn't matter how you eat them, cherries are delicious. They go with just about everything from meat to cake to alcohol. And when they're in season, they're like little bits of natural candy. It makes you wonder what happens if you have too much of a good thing.

In the case of cherries, it turns out, not much. Nutrition Value states that a cup of pitted cherries carries 97 calories. Those calories consist of about 25 grams of carbohydrates (20 of which are natural sugar and 3.2 grams are fiber) as well as 1.6 grams of protein. When you compare these numbers to your suggested daily intake, one cup of cherries is about 9% of your daily carb intake, 3% of your daily protein intake, and a solid 11% of your daily fiber.

That's a pretty good ratio for such a sweet treat. By comparison, a 20-ounce bottle of Coke has 65 grams of sugar (24% of your daily intake), no fiber, and no protein according to Coca-Cola's website. In order to consume the same amount of sugar from cherries, you would have to eat roughly two and a half cups of pitted cherries. And that might not seem like a lot, but one you start pitting the cherries, it can really add up. 

Good and bad news about fiber and the pits

Clearly calories and sugar aren't the main concern with cherries. Instead, the problems start with the fiber content in cherries. One cup of the red fruit has 11% of your daily fiber intake. And this is a good thing since most Americans aren't eating enough fiber according to a 2016 study conducted by Diane Quagliani in partnership with The Kellogg Company.

The study encourages people to eat more grains, but fruits and vegetables are also great sources of fiber. And it's important to get enough in your diet. But overdoing it can have some nasty side effects. Speaking to Food Network, gastrointestinal (GI) dietitian Kate Scarlata explained that too much fiber causes painful gas, bloating and even GI distress. This usually means either constipation or a continued stay in the bathroom.

But that's the worst thing you can expect. Unless, of course, you eat the pits. According to the The National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), swallowing a whole cherry pit isn't a problem. You'll pass it before your stomach acid breaks through the shell. But crushed or broken pits are another story. The NCPC explains that when you eat a broken pit, your body breaks down the chemicals inside and creates cyanide. There aren't hard and fast numbers on how many pits are "okay" to eat before cyanide poisoning kicks in so it's best to stay at zero. 

Bottom line? As long as you avoid pits and keep an eye on that fiber intake, you can enjoy as many cherries as you want.