Tart cherry (Prunus cerasus), closely related to the sweet cherry, gets its botanical name from the Turkish town of Cerasus. Though there are numerous species of cherries, the two varieties commonly eaten are the sweet cherry and the tart cherry. Tart cherry goes by other aliases such as sore cherry and dwarf cherry and is often consumed dried, frozen or juiced. It contains many nutrients that offer various health benefits.
Benefits Of Tart Cherry Juice
Since packaged tart cherry juice varieties can contain substantial amounts of added sugars, it is best to consume unsweetened tart cherry juice.
1. Promotes Brain Health
Many degenerative brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are partly caused due to oxidative stress. Tart cherries and their juice are rich in antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds that may help protect brain cells.1 Consuming 16 ounces (480 ml) of tart cherry juice daily improves antioxidant defenses in healthy older men and women. Research shows that tart cherry juice improves verbal fluency and short-term and long-term memory in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia.2
2. Prevents Insomnia
Louisiana State University researchers who observed the sleep patterns of adults noted that tart cherry juice promotes quality sleep. Tart cherry is naturally rich in melatonin (the hormone responsible for sleepiness) and tryptophan (an amino acid the body needs to create melatonin). A class of pigments called anthocyanins found in the fruit helps in slowing the breakdown of tryptophan, which increases its sleep-inducing effects.
3. Fortifies Immune System
Tart cherry juice is loaded with many vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds that are proven to boost your immune system. The high antioxidant content of tart cherries may help prevent infections. One specific study analyzed the effect of this juice on upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTS) commonly experienced by marathon runners after a race.
It was observed that the group of runners who did not drink tart cherry juice in the days leading up to and immediately following a marathon race developed URTS following the race. Interestingly, none of the runners who drank the tart cherry had any respiratory problems.3
4. Prevents Gout
A study published in the Journal of Functional Foods shows that tart cherry juice can help fight gout, which is a type of arthritis that causes repeated attacks of intense pain and swelling. In the experiment conducted, participants drank cherry juice concentrate diluted with water. The fruit juice reduced the levels of uric acid (the chemical that causes gout in high concentrations) and c-reactive protein, a biomarker of inflammation. Researchers attribute this property to the anthocyanins, which is also responsible for the fruit’s dark red color.
5. Reduces Pain
Tart cherries are beneficial to post-run muscle soreness among runners. A trial from Oregon Health and Science University studied the effects of tart cherry juice in long-distance runners. Tart cherry juice drinkers reported a considerably smaller increase in pain both during and after the race. A study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage notes that the anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherry juice also helps relieve joint pain in patients with mild-to-moderate knee osteoarthritis.
6. Reduces Muscle Soreness
Tart cherry juice is an effective remedy for muscle soreness. A study found that long-distance runners who drank tart cherry juice experienced three times less pain during and after the race compared to those who were given the placebo.4 Another study found that runners who consumed 16 ounces (480 ml) of cherry juice in the days leading up to and immediately following a marathon had less muscle damage, inflammation, soreness and also recovered faster.5 Interestingly, tart cherry juice and supplements may increase muscle strength too.
7. Fights Cancer Cells
Tart cherry juice contains cancer-fighting chemicals, including ellagic acid, limonene, perillyl alcohol, and anthocyanins. These chemicals are especially useful against skin, lung, liver, and breast cancers. Researchers have found that the anthocyanins and cyanidin in tart cherries may also decrease the risk of colon cancer.
8. Aids Weight Loss
Tart cherries have a significant impact in influencing metabolism, which helps the body in losing abdominal fat. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry asserts the role of anthocyanins in weight reduction. Another 2009 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food noted that regular tart cherry juice consumption helps decrease abdominal fat and inflammation while reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
|↑1||Kim, Dae-Ok, Ho Jin Heo, Young Jun Kim, Hyun Seuk Yang, and Chang Y. Lee. “Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 53, no. 26 (2005): 9921-9927.|
|↑2||Kent, Katherine, Karen Charlton, Steven Roodenrys, Marijka Batterham, Jan Potter, Victoria Traynor, Hayley Gilbert, Olivia Morgan, and Rachelle Richards. “Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12 weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia.” European journal of nutrition 56, no. 1 (2017): 333-341.|
|↑3||Dimitriou, Lygeri, Jessica A. Hill, Ahmed Jehnali, Joe Dunbar, James Brouner, Malachy P. McHugh, and Glyn Howatson. “Influence of a montmorency cherry juice blend on indices of exercise-induced stress and upper respiratory tract symptoms following marathon running—a pilot investigation.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12, no. 1 (2015): 22.|
|↑4||Kuehl, Kerry S., Erica T. Perrier, Diane L. Elliot, and James C. Chesnutt. “Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7, no. 1 (2010): 17.|
|↑5||Howatson, Glyn, M. P. McHugh, J. A. Hill, James Brouner, A. P. Jewell, Ken A. Van Someren, R. E. Shave, and S. A. Howatson. “Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 20, no. 6 (2010): 843-852.|