Tart cherry juice...it’s the new hit with elite athletes and workout enthusiasts everywhere. Growing research is supporting the fact that tart cherry juice before and after exercise, especially high intensity workouts can improve recovery!! Not only is tart cherry juice fantastic for workout recovery but it boasts many other health benefits that just can’t be overlooked!
1. RICH IN NUTRIENTS.
Tart cherry juice is rich in various nutrients. An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving contains 119 calories and the following:
Carbs: 28 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: 1 gram
Vitamin A: 62% of the RDI
Vitamin C: 40% of the RDI
Manganese: 14% of the RDI
Potassium: 12% of the RDI
Copper: 12% of the RDI
Vitamin K: 7% of the RDI
Tart cherry juice also contains smaller amounts of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fats, in addition to antioxidants.
Compared to sweet cherry varieties, tart cherries contain 20 times more vitamin A, and their antioxidant levels are up to five times higher. Make sure to choose an unsweetened variety as the sweetened tart cherry drinks can contain high levels of added sugars.
2. INCREASES STRENGTH AND REDUCES MUSCLE SORENESS.
Several studies have shown that cherry juice taken before a workout (specifically long distance marathons) has been shown to decrease pain during and after intense exercise.
Runners given 16 oz of tart cherry juice in the days leading up to and immediately after a marathon experienced less muscle damage, reduced soreness and inflammation, and even recovered faster.
Additionally, tart cherry juice has shown itself to be helpful with increasing strength during workouts. A group of men were given tart cherry juice leading up to an intense resistance training workout. During the workout, the men who had taken the cherry juice (compared to a group of men who hadn’t) experienced 4% less muscle strength loss than the group who hadn’t ingested the cherry juice.
3. COULD HELP WITH SLEEP.
Tart cherries are naturally rich in melatonin, a hormone that is responsible for sleepiness. Cherries also contain tryptophan and anthocyanins, two compounds that help the body create melatonin and increase the desire to hit the sheets.
Research has shown that ingesting tart cherry juice can increase quality and length of sleep. In a study done to test the effects cherry juice has on insomnia, patients showed an increase in sleep duration up to 85 minutes more per night.
4. MAY REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF ARTHRITIS AND GOUT.
Tart cherry juice has proven itself useful in the reduction of arthritis symptoms and inflammation.
In one study tart cherry juice reduced blood markers of inflammation in women with osteoarthritis.
In another study, a patient was given 2- 8 ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily and was able to notice a change in stiffness and pain over the course of 6 weeks.
5. MAY PROMOTE BRAIN HEALTH.
Degenerative brain disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are thought to be caused, in part, by oxidative stress.
Tart cherries and their juice contain large amounts of antioxidants which have been proven to have protective effects on brains cells.
In one study, older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia consumed either 6.5 ounces (200 ml) of tart cherry juice or a placebo for 12 weeks.
Adults in the cherry juice group experienced improvements in verbal fluency and short-term and long-term memory, whereas those in the placebo group experienced no improvements
6. MAY STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Because tart cherry juice is rich in vitamins (see above), minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds, it has shown strong evidence to be helpful in strengthening the immune system!
Researchers have found that high levels of antioxidants, which are found in tart cherry juice, can stave off infections.
In a study performed with marathon runners, a group of runners were given tart cherry juice in the days leading up to their race while another group was given a placebo. The group who received the tart cherry juice showed significantly less symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (an issue that is common with marathon runners) than the group who had received the placebo.
7. OTHER (less tested) BENEFITS.
Tart cherry juice may offer a variety of other health benefits.
MAY PROTECT AGAINST CANCER: Certain antioxidants found in tart cherry juice may help turn off genes involved in cancer growth. However, this hasn't been tested directly on humans yet
MIGHT REDUCE PAIN: Tart cherry juice may help reduce peripheral neuropathy, a type of pain caused by nerve damage.
MAY REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE: Studies show that tart cherry juice consumption may lead to modest reductions in blood pressure levels.
COULD HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS: Tart cherry juice was observed to reduce weight, belly fat and blood cholesterol levels in mice. However, human studies are needed.
Photo credit: Medical New Today