6 Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

6 Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice is made from Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus), also known as sour cherries. When consumed regularly, tart cherry juice may help improve heart health, promote deep sleep, and alleviate muscle soreness—thanks to the fruit’s abundance of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. As the name suggests, tart cherry juice is more sour than black cherry juice, which is made from sweet cherries.

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Tart cherry juice is rich in plant compounds such as proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and flavonols. These compounds contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can improve heart health.

Antioxidants counteract oxidative stress, a process that causes cell damage and can contribute to conditions like cardiovascular disease.

Research found regular tart cherry juice consumption can help reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease in older adults. This is due to its ability to reduce blood pressure and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, both of which can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Tart cherry juice may improve insomnia (the inability to sleep) and help you sleep better throughout the night.

This benefit is partly because tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone the brain produces in response to darkness that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.

However, the amount of melatonin in tart cherry juice is relatively low compared to the amount recommended for sleep, which is 0.5 to 5 milligrams. This suggests other mechanisms may be responsible for the juice’s potential ability to improve sleep quality.

Tart cherries also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in the production of melatonin and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can improve mood and sleep quality.

In addition, plant compounds in tart cherries, such as procyanidin B-2, may promote a more restful night’s sleep.

One small study in adults over the age of 50 with insomnia found that drinking 240 milliliters, or about one cup of cherry juice, twice daily led to increased time spent asleep compared to the placebo.

High blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress are believed to contribute to the development of cognitive impairment. Tart cherry juice has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help reduce these risk factors.

A small study examined the effects of tart cherry juice consumption on cognitive health in older adults. Researchers found the individuals who drank two cups of tart cherry juice daily for 12 weeks had improved memory scores and performance on learning tasks compared to people in the placebo group.

However, larger studies with more participants are needed to confirm these findings. Additionally, the study received industry funding, which raises concerns about potential bias.

There’s growing evidence that tart cherry juice may help improve endurance and exercise recovery in athletes.

A review of studies found tart cherry may help enhance muscle function and decrease muscle soreness, inflammation, and damage in athletes.

The review also found consuming tart cherry concentrate in juice or powdered form for seven days, 1.5 hours before exercise, significantly improved endurance performance. These benefits are thought to be due to the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood flow-enhancing properties of tart cherries.

Additionally, another review found drinking tart cherry juice improved and accelerated the recovery of muscle strength after intense training.

There is some evidence tart cherries may help protect against age-related bone loss.

A study in older women found consuming two cups of tart cherry juice daily led to decreased bone breakdown. However, this study is industry-funded so there is a risk of potential bias.

The exact mechanism of how tart cherry juice affects bone health is still being researched, but researchers suggest it may be due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Tart cherry juice may help reduce the severity and frequency of gout flares. Gout is a painful type of inflammatory arthritis characterized by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints that causes pain and swelling.

One review of studies found people with gout who regularly consumed cherry juice or extract experienced fewer gout flare-ups than people who did not consume cherry products. Drinking tart cherry juice in particular was associated with lower levels of uric acid in the blood.

In addition, there is evidence tart cherry juice may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis.

An industry-funded study reported that patients with knee arthritis who consumed 16 ounces of tart cherry juice daily for four weeks experienced improvement in joint pain and mobility.

Further research is needed before tart cherry intake for arthritis can be recommended.

One cup of tart cherry juice contains:

  • Calories: 159
  • Protein: 0.8g
  • Fat: 1.5g
  • Carbs: 36.9g
  • Sugar: 32.8g
  • Copper: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)

Tart cherry juice is a good source of copper, a mineral that is important for making blood cells, connective tissues, and energy production.

Tart cherries are also higher in antioxidants than many other foods and beverages per portion, including red wine, orange juice, and dark chocolate.

Tart cherry juice is classified as a low glycemic index (GI) food, making it less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. However, the juice is naturally high in sugar, so individuals with diabetes should consume it in moderation. Drinking one cup of tart cherry juice can raise blood sugar levels due to its sugar content.

Certain brands of tart cherry juice may contain added sugars. To get the most out of its health benefits, select 100% pure tart cherry juice that is free of added sugars.

Cherry juice is generally well-tolerated in healthy individuals. However, tart cherry juice is relatively high in the sugar alcohol sorbitol, which can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps in some people.

Additionally, people with cherry allergies should avoid tart cherry juice and other products containing cherries to avoid an allergic reaction.

If you’re considering drinking tart cherry juice, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  • Make your own. To make homemade tart cherry juice, start by removing the pits from 2 cups of tart cherries. Place the pitted cherries in a blender and add 1 cup of water. Blend the mixture until it becomes smooth.
  • Read the label. If you prefer to buy tart cherry juice, make sure to choose 100% tart cherry juice with no added sugar to ensure you’re getting the maximum health benefits.
  • Dilute tart cherry juice concentrate. If you’re using tart cherry juice concentrate, mix two tablespoons of concentrate with 8 ounces (oz) of regular or sparkling water.
  • Enjoy it with a balanced meal. Drink tart cherry juice alongside a snack or meal that contains protein, fat, and fiber. This will help promote fullness and prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Start with a small amount. Consider starting with a 4 oz serving and gradually increasing as desired to minimize any potential side effects.
  • Know how much to consume. While many studies have shown the benefits of drinking two cups daily, adjusting your intake based on your individual health needs and preferences is important. It’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider to determine how much tart cherry juice you should consume daily.

Tart cherry juice is a nutritious beverage that offers many health benefits. It has been associated with improved heart health, better sleep, and enhanced exercise recovery. Many of these effects are thought to be due to its high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

Tart cherry juice may also help reduce symptoms of arthritis, promote cognitive health, and protect against age-related bone loss. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.

To get the most health benefits, choose 100% tart cherry juice without added sugar. Talk to a healthcare provider about how much juice you should consume daily.

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