Health Benefits of Tart Cherries

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Tart cherries harvested
Tart cherries harvested

Tart cherries which are also labeled as sour, dwarf or Montmorency cherries, have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, and for good reason–their health benefits. It is most often consumed as a juice. Tart cherry juice is extracted from the ripe fruit of the Prunus cerasus tree. The tree is native to both southwest Asia and Europe.

Whether you purchase concentrate bottled juice, frozen, or concentrated liquid, it is important to note that the product can contain a substantial amount of added sugar because, well, they’re tart! Be a label-reading consumer. And as always, look for organic products. That being said, here are some health benefits.

How Your Health can Benefit from Tart Cherries

  • Reduce muscle soreness and optimize strength. If you’re a runner, walker, or indulge in another sport, this benefit is obvious. In one study, runners were given 16 ounces (480 ml) of cherry juice in the days before and immediately following a marathon. They were found to have less muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation than they had experienced in previous races. In addition, they also recovered faster. As for weight trainers, tart cherry juice and supplements may increase muscle strength. If your goal is weight loss, reducing muscle soreness means more productive workouts.
  • High in nutritional value. Even though an 8-ounce (240-ml) serving contains 119 calories, it’s packed with valuable nutrients. For example, offsetting the 28 grams of carbs are 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 7% of the RDI of vitamin K, 14% of the RDI of manganese, 62% of the RDI of vitamin A, 12% of the RDI of potassium, 12% of the RDI of copper, and 40% of the RDI of vitamin C.
  • Sleep better and longer. Not many people get the recommended amount of nightly sleep, do they? But tart cherries are naturally high in melatonin which is a hormone responsible for sleepiness. Many people are afflicted with insomnia as I have been for years. I have found that melatonin is a natural, safe, non-habit forming solution. Further, tart cherries contain a healthy helping of tryptophan and anthocyanins. These two compounds are thought to help the body create melatonin.
  • Strengthen your immune system. It is widely believed that that tart cherries’ high antioxidant content may help prevent infections. During flu season and the Coronavirus pandemic, who doesn’t need that to hedge their bets?
  • Control symptoms of gout and arthritis. Some studies have looked at the effect of tart cherry juice on gout. Gout is a specific type of arthritis accompanied by repeated attacks of swelling and intense pain. The thought is that tart cherry juice seems to reduce blood levels of uric acid which is a chemical that triggers gout when present in elevated concentrations. The juice is often claimed to reduce arthritis symptoms, such as joint pain and inflammation.
  • Improve your brain health. Degenerative brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are caused, at least to some extent, by oxidative stress. Tart cherries and their juice offer a large amount of antioxidants as well as other beneficial plant compounds that may have protective effects on brain cells.

Standard disclaimer: if you are considering going on a tart cherry regimen and you are on any type of medication, consult your doctor. For example, it contains quercetin which is a plant compound that may interact with certain meds, blood thinners in particular. But for most of us, the health benefits of tart cherries are well worth a look.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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