Tart cherry juice is made from a small, red fruit with great health benefits. Tart cherries also known as sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) are closely related to the sweet cherry (Prunus avium), but have fruits that are more acidic, have greater nutritional benefits and greater medicinal effects.
Tart cherries are sometimes called Montmorency cherries and you should be aware that this type of cherry is just a variety of tart cherry grown in the United States, Canada and France, particularly in Michigan and in Door County, Wisconsin.
All cherries contain anthocyanins – a plant pigment that gives them their vibrant color and is found in red and purple fruits.
Anthocyanins have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and tart cherries contain the highest level of this potent red pigment, thus have the strongest healing potential.
Tart cherries, are rich in vitamins A and C and abound in beta carotene. They are indeed a super food, and can be consumed in many different forms: fresh, dried, frozen, as a juice or in an extract form.
Here are 6 science-based health benefits of tart cherry juice.
1. Helps post-workout recovery
Cherry juice may help recovery post-exercise. It is naturally high in potassium, which conducts electrical impulses throughout the body. This mineral also helps maintain blood pressure, hydration, muscle recovery, nerve impulses, digestion, heart rate, and pH balance. Cherries contain about 330 milligrams (mg) of potassium per cup, which is almost 10 percent of your daily recommended value.
2. Boosts immunity
Like all fruits and vegetables, cherries pack a powerful antioxidant and antiviral punch. Flavonoids, a type of antioxidant in cherry juice, are made by plants to fight infection. Research shows that these chemicals can have a significant impact on immune system function.
3. Regulates metabolism and fights fat
There is some evidence in animals that tart cherries can help adjust your body’s metabolism and your ability to lose abdominal body fat. One study showed that anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid responsible for cherries’ red color, act against the development of obesity. Another study in rats found that tart cherries can help reduce inflammation and abdominal fat, and lower the risk of metabolic syndrome.
4. Blocks cancer growth
In a 2003 study, researchers pitted cherry juice against the NSAID sulindac, which is the most common preventive anti-inflammatory treatment for colon tumors. Although an animal study, it is notable that cherry juice — unlike the NSAID — reduced the growth of cancer cells.
5. May reduce symptoms of arthritis and gout
Tart cherry juice is often claimed to reduce arthritis symptoms, such as joint pain and inflammation.
In one study, tart cherry juice reduced certain blood markers of inflammation in women with osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis.
In another study, patients who consumed two 8-ounce (240-ml) bottles of tart cherry juice daily experienced slightly less pain and stiffness after six weeks.
However, the differences observed between patients given the cherry juice and those given a placebo were very small.
6. Might 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 and other beneficial plant compounds that may have protective effects on brain cells.
In one study, consuming 16 ounces (480 ml) of tart cherry juice daily improved antioxidant defenses in healthy older men and women.
In another 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.