Cherries are delicious and sweet but with so many varieties and preparation methods, women might find themselves wondering if they’re safe to eat!| Plus – what happens if you accidentally swallow a cherry pit?
Cherries are safe to eat during pregnancy. In fact, they’re even a great source of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals, making them a good choice of fruit to eat if you’re expecting.
I’ll give you the low down on all the different kinds of cherries and how to enjoy them healthily and safely through every trimester. Plus I’ll point out a couple of dishes that MIGHT not be as safe during pregnancy.
The Benefits of Cherries During Pregnancy: Are They Good for Me?
Cherries are a great source of extra vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.
There are several different kinds of cherries, with varying nutritional breakdowns and benefits.
Sweet cherries usually refer to Lapins, Rainier and Tulare cherries. Sweet cherries are a good source of vitamin C but are quite low on Vitamin A. During pregnancy, consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C has been associated with a lower risk of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (source: Cochrane).
This vitamin can also lower the risk of anemia (Source: CSR) Instances of hospitalization for anemia and upper/lower respiratory tract infections reduced when given vitamin C supplements while expecting, according to one study (source: The Pan African Medical Journal).
Black cherries are another kind of sweet cherry. They’re considerably lower in Vitamin C and A but are a good source of calcium and iron (source: Nutritionix). Studies have shown that adequate calcium consumption reduces the risk of developing preeclampsia.
Due to calcium transfer during pregnancy, calcium is key for maintaining bone mass and reducing the risk of later developing osteoporosis (source: Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology India). Iron deficiency is not that uncommon in pregnant women. If this is something you’re struggling with, check out our high-iron foods for pregnancy article.
However, ensuring you have enough iron increases hemoglobin concentration in the blood. This is important as hemoglobin is needed to transfer oxygen, but also provides a buffer against the blood loss during birth (source: Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements).
Morello cherries are mostly used to bake tarts as they’re too bitter for most people to enjoy raw. This kind of cherry is a better source of Vitamin A than sweet cherries. Vitamin A is important for your baby’s bone, teeth and hair development.
It also helps to strengthen the immune system and protect the skin while maintaining how reproductive organs function and maintaining the development of epithelial tissue (source: Nutrients).
Cherries are very refreshing due to their high water content. This makes them an ideal fruit to add more liquids to your diet.
One final thing to note is that cherries are best eaten on their own as ripe fruit, rather than eaten in pies, cakes and other sweet desserts like cheesecakes! You can still treat yourself during pregnancy, but remember many cherry-containing foods are pretty unhealthy and are usually high in fat and sugar.
Dried cherries are another option – you can read more about the benefits and drawbacks of dried fruit during pregnancy here.
Can Cherries Help with Pregnancy Constipation?
Cherries are a decent source of fiber which may be why they have been linked with aiding pregnancy constipation.
The exact amount of fiber varies depending on the type but they seem to have between 1.5 to 3 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fruit. Fiber helps to move food through the digestive system, which is why it helps with constipation.
If you’re struggling with pregnancy-related constipation, then you might want to read our guide with fiber-rich foods to eat when you’re pregnant, as a natural, safe way of getting more fiber into your diet.
Are Cherries a Safe Fruit for Pregnant Women?
Cherries are generally safe during pregnancy.
The concern is less with cherries themselves and more with food safety. Always buy fresh cherries and consume them within the best before date. Make sure to wash them under running water before consuming and avoid any bruised bits.
Sometimes cherries can be found in pre-cut fruit salads. These should be avoided as they are easily contaminated. If a knife has bacteria, it can easily transfer and spread onto the rest of the fruit – even if the cherries have not been cut. Many cases of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella have been tied back to pre-cut fruit (source: FDA).
What if I Accidentally eat a Cherry Pit When Pregnant?
Accidentally swallowing a cherry pit is not ideal but is not harmful for pregnant women either. However, it’s not advised to regularly or intentionally consume cherry pits as they can cause colon obstruction in large amounts (source: CIE).
There is a risk of acute toxicity when consuming excessive amounts but this risk is most prevalent in children (source: University of Leeds).
If you’ve accidentally swallowed just the one pit (or stalk), then it should be nothing to worry about if it’s an isolated incident – monitor yourself for any untoward symptoms, and get in touch with your healthcare provider if you experience anything out of the norm.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Maraschino Cherries?
While drinking alcohol is not recommended during pregnancy, there are a lot of alcohol-infused foods with cherries that are difficult to navigate.
Maraschino cherries are heavily sweetened and preserved in maraschino liqueur. Although some are preserved in brine instead (source: Journal of Food Science Education). They’re used to top ice cream sundaes, cocktails & mocktails, milkshakes and lots of other desserts.
Although having one or two occasionally should be safe, they’re stripped of most of their nutritional value so it’s not recommended to consume them often regardless of whether they were made from liqueur or not.
Many recipes generally suggest 5 ounces of alcohol for 24 cherries. While there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while expecting, having one or two cherries on a one-off occasion should be safe. As they’re often made in brine instead of alcohol, be sure to ask how they were made first.
Cherries Jubilee is a flambéed dish made with a cherry brandy called kirsch or rum. Some food cooked with alcohol ends up burning off most of the alcohol in the end. However, cherries jubilee is on the heavier side when it comes to alcoholic foods. If consuming, ask for less kirsch liquor or a smaller portion.
For more on this, check out our guide on eating food cooked with alcohol when you’re pregnant.
Is Acerola Cherry Safe During Pregnancy?
Acerola is also known as the “Barbados cherry” because the fruit of the plant closely resembles a cherry, although it’s not quite the same as the popular fruit.
There is very little information on whether Acerola is safe during pregnancy, so it’s best avoided (source: WedMD). On top of that, acerola is very often in supplement form (such as a powder), so it may not be regulated by the FDA or other equivalent food standards departments.
Acerola cherry is also very high in Vitamin C, and may cause you to take too much vitamin C, which can be unsafe (source: Babycenter).
I’m Pregnant and Craving Cherries: Is This Normal?
There is nothing to worry about if you’re craving cherries or any other food! Fruit in particular seems to be a really common craving.
While no one knows the exact reason for cravings, they do not indicate any health concerns or nutritional deficiencies. Food cravings can be attributed to a change in hormones, which alters your sense of taste and smell.
Cravings are also believed to be cultural so if you enjoyed cherries before pregnancy, you may crave them while you’re expecting. (source: Ecology of Food and Nutrition). Fruit is actually one of the most common cravings (source: AJCN). Learn more from our article on citrus cravings.
I hope this article reassured you about the benefits of eating cherries while expecting and help you to enjoy this delicious fruit safely!