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7 Benefits Of Tart Cherry Juice

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Tart cherry juice is popular among endurance athletes and everyday people alike for its high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties.

It may also aid sleep and promote cardiovascular health.

But are the claims about the benefits of tart cherry juice backed by science? Is tart cherry juice good for you?

In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of tart cherry juice and whether tart cherry juice is good for you.

We will look at: 

  • What Is Tart Cherry Juice?
  • Is Tart Cherry Juice Good for You?
  • 7 Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

Let’s jump in!

A bowl of cherries and a glass of tart cherry juice.

What Is Tart Cherry Juice?

When most people buy fresh cherries at the grocery store or market, they are buying sweet cherries. This is actually a different species of cherry than the fruit that is used to make tart cherry juice.

Tart cherry juice is made from tart cherries, which may also be known as sour, dwarf, or Montmorency cherries. These are the fruits of the Prunus cerasus tree, which is native to southwest Asia and Europe.

Rather than being consumed fresh, tart cherries are almost always either dried, frozen, or juiced.

Although the flavor resembles that of sweet cherries in some regards, tart cherries have a much more sour taste. They are also smaller in size and bright red in color compared with sweet cherries, which are larger and have a deeper purple or red color.

Both types of cherries have powerful antioxidant compounds, largely due to the anthocyanins, which contribute to the red or purple pigment of the cherries.

However, tart cherries may have additional health benefits.

A pitcher and glass of tart cherry juice.

Is Tart Cherry Juice Good for You?

Although there are quite a number of health benefits of tart cherry juice, it is still important to read the label of the product that you are consuming. Because tart cherry juice is inherently quite sour, it is not uncommon to find a lot of added sugar in commercial tart cherry juice drinks. 

Diets high in added sugar are associated with many adverse health effects.

In fact, sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the typical American diet and can increase the risk of dental cavities and periodontal disease, fatty liver disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, metabolic syndrome, and dysfunction.

Therefore, just because the base of the drink is healthy—tart cherries— if there are several teaspoons of added sugar per serving, the overall tart cherry juice drink may be unhealthy.

There are some unsweetened cherry tart juices, but these are typically sold in a concentrated form so that you drink a shot-glass size or 1-ounce serving or so.

You can find tart cherry juice supplements, such as tart cherry juice capsules with concentrated tart cherry juice powder inside.

A pitcher of tart cherry juice and a handful of cherries.

7 Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

Here are some of the top tart cherry juice benefits:

#1: Tart Cherry Juice May Reduce Muscle Soreness

Whether you are a competitive athlete or just work out to stay in shape and improve your health, you have likely dealt with muscle soreness after a workout.

Known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), achy muscles after exercise can not only be uncomfortable but can make it difficult to sleep and move about your day. The muscle soreness associated with DOMS may last up to 72 hours, and it can also limit your ability to perform another vigorous workout until the soreness has subsided.

DOMS is thought to be primarily caused by inflammation in the muscles after exercise due to microtears and microscopic damage to the muscle fibers on a cellular level. This, in turn, can lead to pain and stiffness as the body tries to repair the muscles post-workout.

Studies have found that tart cherry juice can be an effective supplement for reducing muscle soreness after a workout, and drinking cherry tart juice may even reduce muscle discomfort and optimize muscle function during a workout.

A tennis player holding her shoulder in pain.

For example, in one study, long-distance runners who drank 24 oz (710 mL) of tart cherry juice in the 7 days leading up to and on the day of a race experienced three times less pain during and after the race than runners who were given a placebo during the study trial.

These results were corroborated in another study where runners were given 16 oz (480 mL) of cherry juice in the 5 days leading up to and 48 hours immediately following a marathon. 

Compared with the group that received the placebo drink, the runners who drank tart cherry juice before and after the marathon experienced significantly less muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation. They also recovered isometric muscle strength faster.

When tart cherry juice is consumed in supplement form (typically at a dosage level of 480 mg of tart cherry juice powder) rather than as a liquid beverage, similar muscle soreness-reducing benefits have been observed.

A person running on a boardwalk.

#2: Tart Cherry Juice May Increase Muscle Strength

Studies have also found that one of the benefits of tart cherry juice is that it may help preserve muscle strength after hard workouts.

One study with highly-trained male resistance training athletes investigated the effects of supplementing with 480 mg of tart cherry juice powder in the 10 days prior to and 48 hours immediately after an intense resistance training session. The workout involved performing ten sets of ten repetitions at 70% of a 1-RM back squat exercise.

Results suggested that not only did the group receiving the tart cherry juice supplement experience significantly less muscle soreness after the workout, but they also had significantly less decrement in muscle strength after the workout and were able to recover faster. 

Moreover, bloodwork revealed that the tart cherry juice supplementation resulted in lower levels of markers of muscle catabolism. This means that the tart cherry juice helped attenuate a decline in strength and muscle tissue breakdown after a workout.

A person in a deep sleep.

#3: Tart Cherry Juice May Aid Recovery From Exercise

In addition to reducing muscle soreness and preserving muscle strength after a hard workout, research has found that tart cherry juice may help your body recover faster after exercise.

#4: Tart Cherry Juice May Help You Sleep Better

Difficulty sleeping is a common problem for adults. Insomnia can reduce your quality of life, and many people turn to various sleep aids, ranging from prescription sleep medication to natural sleep products such as melatonin.

Evidence suggests that tart cherry juice may be another supplement you might consider adding to your sleep routine to improve the quality of sleep and combat insomnia.

For example, one study with people with insomnia found that people who drank 16 oz (480 mL) of tart cherry juice daily for two weeks increased their average sleep time per night by 84 minutes.

The sleep benefits of tart cherry juice are thought to be attributable to the melatonin and tryptophan found naturally within tart cherries. 

A supplement pill.

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm, and tryptophan is an amino acid that can also help promote sleep by increasing serotonin production. 

With that said, the amount of melatonin in tart cherry juice is significantly less than the dosage usually prescribed for those dealing with insomnia, so it may be that there are other compounds in tart cherries that provide a calming or relaxing effect on the body for improved sleep. 

For example, studies have found that supplementing with tart cherry juice seems to boost melatonin levels, so tart cherry juice may help stimulate the production of more melatonin aside from whatever melatonin they naturally contain.

#5: Tart Cherry Juice May Reduce Inflammation

One of the top tart cherry juice benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties.

For instance, tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce symptoms of gout, an inflammatory and painful condition caused by high levels of uric acid.

Tart cherry juice may also reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Cherries.

#6: Tart Cherry Juice May Improve Brain Health

Studies have found that tart cherry juice supplements may help improve memory function and may have a protective effect on brain cells.

These tart cherry juice benefits are thought to be attributable to the high antioxidant content. 

Moreover, degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are thought to be potentially caused at least in part by oxidative stress, and antioxidants are compounds that can help prevent this type of cellular damage by destroying free radicals.

#7: Tart Cherry Juice May Boost Immune Health

Because tart cherries are so rich in antioxidants, one of the benefits of tart cherry juice may be improving the health and function of your immune system.

Overall, tart cherry juice may have an array of health benefits, particularly for athletes, but it’s important to consider how much sugar is added before choosing the best tart cherry juice drink.

If you are interested in reading up on more healthy foods, check out our information-packed nutrition guide database here!

Cherries and a glass of tart cherry juice.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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