Nutrition Blog

Is it possible there is a fruit more powerful than ibuprofen for relieving the pain associated with post workout inflammation?  It seems that way! Tart cherry juice is certainly making a name for itself recently and as a result is developing quite a following among athletes and is now being added to many health drinks and diets.

Research performed at the Oregon Health and Science University showed that runners who drank the tart cherry juice for a week leading up to and including the day of a 197 mile relay race had less pain than those taking a placebo. They had less inflammation and their muscles recovered more quickly. The runners drank 10½ ounces of Montmorency cherry juice (a type of sour cherry) twice a day for seven days before race day and then drank that same amount every eight hours during the actual day of the relay. Another study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found similar results. 

The results are thought to be due to the powerful anti-inflammatory agents in the peel of the cherries.  Anthocyanins are responsible for the pigment in cherries and are thought to provide an antioxidant capacity unlike any other fruit according to some researchers, however they also contain other powerful antioxidants like phenolic acids, and phytochemicals.

You might he interested to know that tart cherries also have been shown to help significantly with arthritis and osteoarthritis.  In one such study, researchers enrolled 20 women with osteoarthritis who were aged 40 to 70, and gave them tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, they noticed a significant reduction in pain.  Other studies have shown similar results. 

If that wasn’t enough, tart cherries are also believed to help with sleep because they contain melatonin. One such study in the journal of  European Nutrition showed drinking 30 ml of tart cherry juice increased sleep time by 34 minutes as apposed to a decline in sleep showed by the placebo. 

It is im
portant to note in all of these studies, the benefits were seen with tart cherry juice, not sweet cherries which many people eat regularly.  Tart or sour cherries are bitter as the name suggests. They are often used in pies and preserves with added sweetener because unlike sweet cherries, they are too tart to eat.  All cherries are naturally alkalizing and help to balance the pH of the body. They aid in riding the body of acidic wastes and promote overall health.  In fact many people drink tart cherry juice daily to help relieve gout symptoms.

Yet more reason to eat tart cherries:

  • Improves circulation and lowers cholesterol
  • Promotes heart health
  • Reduces metabolic syndrome
  • Inhibits tumor growth
  • Promotes brain health
  • Reduces the risk of chronic diseases
  • Protects and preserves the skin because it fights oxidative damage

Tart cherries can be purchased at local farmers markets as 95% percent of cherries consumed in the U.S. are grown here or you can find them in certain grocery stores.  Tart cherries are not the most pleasant to eat whole, so instead try adding them to a green smoothie or use them in organic pie or preserve recipes. You can also simply buy the tart cherry juice at your local health store or better yet make your own with a juicer.  Try mixing it with other fresh sweet juices to to make it less bitter or dilute it with alkaline water for a great pre and post workout drink. 

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