You’ve heard that life is just a bowl of cherries, but did you know that a glass of tart cherry juice can make a big difference in your health? It’s true! If you haven’t tried tart cherry juice yet, it’s time for you to learn what this sour version of the sweet fruit you’re familiar with can do to decrease pain, improve sleep quality, and much more.
What is Tart Cherry Juice?
Tart cherry juice is made from a tart fruit called Prunus cerasus that grows in Asia and Europe. The one that is seen most often is known the Montmorency cherry. The fruit’s flavor is nothing like the sweet cherries you find in the produce market near your home, so they’re mostly used in desserts and foods where extra sugar is added. The juice is usually sold as a concentrate that you can mix with water. It’s a great way to get all of the amazing nutrients that the fruit contains, without having to eat a ton of individual (and very sour) cherries.
1. Tart Cherry Juice’s Antioxidants Are What Makes It So Special
In terms of vitamins and minerals, tart cherry juice provides a modest amount of nutrition. What really makes the drink special is its remarkable levels of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a type of antioxidant that are known for boosting the immune system and easing inflammation. When you mix 1 ounce of concentrated tart cherry juice with water, the drink’s nutritional profile is as follows:
Calories – 110
Calories from Fat – 0
Potassium – 280 mg (8% of RDV)
Total Carbohydrates – 26 g (9% of RDV)
Protein – 1 g
The really impressive aspect of the nutrients in tart cherry juice comes from the impact of its anti-oxidant compounds. When tart cherry juice concentrate was analyzed to see its ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity), it scored higher than any other fruit or vegetable. The test showed that there are at least 17 compounds in the juice that have antioxidant properties that help repair or prevent damage done by free radicals. Tart cherry juice is also one of the few foods known to contain melatonin, which helps us sleep. It also contains anthocyanins, which are what gives deeply-hued foods their color and which have also been found to be powerful antioxidants.
Bottom Line: Tart cherry juice provides a quick and easy way to load up on anti-oxidants that fight the effect of aging.
2. Tart Cherry Juice Can Stop Pain in its Tracks and Help with Recovery
Pain is often cause by inflammation in the body, and tart cherry juice’s anthocyanins help to stop inflammation in its tracks, whether it is caused by aging or over-exertion. A study conducted by the Oregon Health and Science University found that patients suffering from osteoarthritis who drank tart cherry juice twice a day for 3 weeks reported a big drop in their levels of pain. The impact was felt most in those whose pain was worst at the start of the study. When the same scientists checked to see whether the juice would help muscle pain, they found similar results. Runners who drank the juice right after finishing a long run reported 23 percent less pain than those who weren’t given the drink. And another study showed that the juice could actually protect against muscle soreness if people drink it before working out.
Bottom Line: Drinking tart cherry juice may lead to a serious drop in pain and soreness.
3. Tart Cherry Juice Can Improve Your Sleep Quality and Quantity
Not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep is a problem for a lot of people. Insomnia can have a big impact on your overall health. But a study from Louisiana State University showed that drinking the juice two times a day can help you get up to 90 minutes more sleep each night. How does it work? Turns out that tart cherries are one of the few foods in the world that contain melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that keeps your body clock running and responding to the rise and fall of the sun. It tells you when to get sleepy and when to wake up in the morning. As an added bonus, tart cherries also contain an amino acid called tryptophan that helps your body absorb the melatonin that it contains!
Bottom Line: To get some of the best sleep of your life, make drinking a glass of tart cherry juice part of your nighttime routine.
4. Tart Cherry Juice Contains an Anti-Oxidant that Boosts Heart Health
Antioxidants help to offset the impact of free radicals in the body. One of the areas that suffers the most from oxidative stress is the heart and cardiovascular system, but a compound in tart cherry juice called quercetin fights this effect. It also lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which can lead to heart problems. One study gave men with elevated blood pressure tart cherry juice concentrate: it dropped their blood pressure by 7 percent in just 3 hours. That’s important, because keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level can cut your risk of heart disease as well as stroke.
Bottom Line: Drinking tart cherry juice can help to protect your cardiovascular system and decrease your chance of heart attack.
5. Tart Cherry Juice Helps Regulate Blood Sugar and Keep Weight Under Control
One of the most important things you can do to take care of your long term health is to control your blood sugar levels and your weight. Studies have shown that the same anthocyanins that can help lower cholesterol and ease the pain of inflammation can also control how we metabolize high fat foods and how our bodies produce insulin. One study showed it was able to reduce high blood sugar and high fat levels in blood in just 3 months’ time.
Bottom Line: If you are at risk for diabetes 2 or trying to lose weight, tart cherry juice can be a helpful tool in fighting insulin resistance and obesity.
Drinking Tart Cherry Juice Every Day Can Make a Big Impact On Your Health
You can buy supplements that are made of tart cherry juice, but the easiest way to use this antioxidant superfood is to buy a bottle of the concentrated liquid. You can take it by the tablespoon or add 2 tablespoons to 7 ounces of water. If you’d like to make a quart of juice to keep in your refrigerator, just add half a cup of the concentrate to 3 ½ cups of water. You can also mix it with other drinks, such as club soda or ginger ale, or mix a couple of tablespoons into your smoothie to give it a big antioxidant boost.