Recently, among athletes and sports enthusiasts, is getting more buzzing about supplementation of tart cherry juice. It is said about its various potentially beneficial properties – especially when you supplement it after training.
What valuable ingredients does tart cherry juice contain?
How does it affect our body and why are athletes so fond of it?
Read this article and discover the secret.
A Few Facts About Tart Cherry Juice
Both the sweet (BING) and tart (Montmorency) cherries contain a lot of phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin), procyanidins, flavanols (catechins, epicatechins), and phenolic acids.
However, the most valuable ingredients are found in their sour variety
for example, in tart cherries, you can find 20 times more vitamin A and 5 times higher content of selected electrolytes compared to the sweet variety
and its benefits are so appreciated by sports enthusiasts.
In 1 cup of tart cherry juice, you can find about 120 Kcal, including 28 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of protein, and 1 g of fat. Additionally, it is an ideal source of vitamins A, C, and K and electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, and copper). In smaller amounts, you can also find B vitamins, calcium, and iron.
Benefits of supplementing with sour cherry juice
It helps in post-workout recovery
People who train regularly know very well that, apart from the loss of valuable electrolytes, an intense workout causes oxidative stress and an inflammatory process in the muscles, which indirectly affects the effectiveness of our subsequent training units. Thanks to the richness of magnesium and potassium and polyphenolic compounds, tart cherry juice will be perfect as a post-workout drink, minimizing the above processes .
Numerous scientific reports suggest that supplementation of tart cherries may reduce post-training muscle damage, muscle soreness and improve regeneration in athletes ,
In one of them, long-distance runners were given 24 ounces (710 ml) of tart cherry juice and a placebo, for 7 days before the race and on the day of the race. Runners who consumed tart cherry juice experienced three times less pain during and after the race compared to those who were given a placebo .
A similar effect was demonstrated during daily supplementation (7 days before and 2 days after intense exercise with 480 mg of tart cherry powder) in resistance training men. In addition, in the above study, supplementation of the astringent dream powder helped alleviate the hepatic ALT and catabolic response .
In another study, one group of men was given sour cherry supplements or a placebo in the days preceding and immediately following intense resistance training.
The group consuming tart cherry extract lost up to 4% less muscle strength as a result of training compared to men who were given a placebo .
benefits of tart cherry juice for sleep
Tart cherry juice has also been used as a safe supplement that improves sleep quality and helps with insomnia. This may occur because Montmorency cherries contain large amounts of tryptophan, which produces melatonin – a hormone responsible for sleepiness, and anthocyanins, which increase the bioavailability of tryptophan in our body.
In one study, participants with insomnia consume 16 ounces (480 ml) of tart cherry juice or the same amount of placebo juice each day for two weeks. Cherry juice increased their sleep time by an average of 85 minutes .
What’s more, research shows that tart cherry juice appears to be as if not more effective at reducing insomnia than valerian and melatonin – the two most studied natural products for insomnia .
Due to the high content of anthocyanins, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, tart cherries can help fight some diseases, including cancer, cardiac diseases, metabolic syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease [7,8,9].
Tart cherry juice can also be useful in diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Numerous studies show a clear reduction in joint pain after supplementation with tart cherries.
One study examined women aged 40-70 years suffering from osteoporosis. They consumed 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juice or a placebo cherry drink twice daily for 21 consecutive days. The results showed a statistically significant reduction in serum inflammation biomarkers .
It may strengthen the immune system
Some researchers also argue that thanks to the richness of vitamins and trace elements, tart cherry juice can prevent potential infections. However, further trials are required to confirm this thesis.
That is the question!
Different doses and forms of tart cherries have been used in various studies. A specific recommended dose has not yet been established. It is worth mentioning that the content of valuable ingredients may vary depending on the preparation of the product, its processing and expiry date.
The current recommendations focus on consuming them pro tem: from 4-7 days before the competition and from 2-4 days after the competition. During supplementation, it is worth allowing for the practical aspect, which is the fact that some players may experience gastrointestinal problems after consuming a large dose of cherries.
What are the side effects of tart cherry juice?
It cannot be denied that supplementing with tart cherry juice brings a number of advantages, but some of us should consult its consumption with a doctor or clinical nutritionist.
One of the problems is the relatively high sugar content (often added sugar is also present in finished products). This can be a problem especially in people struggling with insulin resistance, diabetes, or other diseases, where a diet with a low glycemic index is crucial.
Another issue is the excessive, continuous consumption of tart cherry juice by athletes. It is not new that too high, long-term consumption of antioxidants reduces training adaptations before and after training. Due to their high content in cherry juice, I would be reasonable in supplementing it, especially when it comes to professionals.
Tart cherry juice can also interact with some medications (for example, those one using to control blood pressure or lowering cholesterol). If you are taking any medical measures, be sure to ask your doctor about it.
Undoubtedly, tart cherry juice is a source of valuable vitamins and minerals. Its effect on post-workout recovery, counteracting civilization diseases, and preventing insomnia are particularly interesting.
Many other potentially beneficial properties are found in it, but they do not have a solid scientific reference and require further research.
When using cherry juice, remember to be moderate – it will not be a good solution for everyone, and in some cases, it can cause gastrointestinal problems.
Read more about the best recovery drinks.
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- Vitale KC, Hueglin S, Broad E. Tart Cherry Juice in Athletes: A Literature Review and Commentary. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2017 Jul/Aug;16(4):230-239.
- Kerry S Kuehl, Erica T Perrier, Diane L Elliot, James C Chesnutt; Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 May 7;7:17. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-7-17
- K. Levers, R Dalton,E Galvan, C Goodenough; Powdered tart cherry supplementation demonstrates benefit on markers of catabolism and muscle soreness following an acute bout of intense lower-body resistance exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014; 11(Suppl 1): P31.
- Kyle Levers, Ryan Dalton, Elfego Galvan; Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on an acute bout of intense lower body strength exercise in resistance-trained males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2015 Nov 16;12:41.doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0102-y. eCollection 2015.
- Wilfred R Pigeon, Michelle Carr, Colin Gorman, Michael L Perlis; Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2010 Jun;13(3):579-83.
- McCune LM, Kubota C, Stendell-Hollis NR, Thomson CA. Cherries and health: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jan;51(1):1-12.
- Ferretti G, Bacchetti T, Belleggia A, Neri D. Cherry antioxidants: from farm to table. Molecules. 2010 Oct 12;15(10):6993-7005.
- Mulabagal V, Lang GA, DeWitt DL, Dalavoy SS, Nair MG. Anthocyanin content, lipid peroxidation, and cyclooxygenase enzyme inhibitory activities of sweet and sour cherries. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Feb 25;57(4):1239-46.
- Kerry Kuehl, Diane L Elliot, Adriana Sleigh; Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice to Reduce Inflammation Biomarkers among Women with Inflammatory Osteoarthritis (OA). July 2012 Journal of Food Studies