In recent years many studies on cherries have revealed that they are rich sources of bioactive compounds with potential human health benefits. In this work, we evaluated the antioxidant activity and antiproliferative effect in human cancer cells of nine sweet cherries, including two traditional cultivars from Portugal (Saco and Morangao). Results obtained in biological assays, together with the phenolic composition of cherries, were submitted to principal component analysis (PCA) which allowed samples to be grouped in terms of their bioactivity. Saco cherry and two exotic cultivars (Ulster and Lapin) proved to have higher contents of phenolic compounds, highest antioxidant activity and were the most effective in inhibiting human cancer cells derived from colon (HT29) and stomach (MKN45). Correlation of the data obtained showed that anthocyanins were the major contributors to the antioxidant capacity and antiproliferative effect of cherries. Additionally, hydroxycinnamic acids (neochlorogenic acid, chlorogenic acid and p-coumaroylquinic acid), flavan-3-ols (catechin and epicatechin) and flavonols (rutin and quercetin-3-glucoside) also play important roles in protection against oxidative stress.