Tart Cherry Juice

Last Updated: December 22 2022

Tart cherry juice is best known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It seems to improve exercise recovery and possibly sleep quality. More evidence is needed to determine whether it is helpful for gout management.

Tart Cherry Juice is most often used for

What is tart cherry juice?

Cherries are a member of the stone fruit family and can meaningfully contribute to dietary intakes of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.[4] Stone fruit are fruits that consist of a thin outer layer, edible flesh, and a hard stone that encloses a seed. Cherries are grouped into two major types: sweet (Prunus avium L.) and tart (Prunus cerasus L.) cherries.[5] The latter are processed to produce tart cherry juice and tart cherry juice concentrate. The scientific interest in tart cherry juice is primarily due to its rich content of polyphenols, particularly anthocyanins, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.[6]

What are tart cherry juice’s main benefits?

Supplementation with tart cherry products has been found to improve recovery from both prolonged aerobic and resistance exercise, including small reductions in perceived muscle soreness and some markers of inflammation, as well as a more rapid return to baseline levels of muscular strength and power.[3] Tart cherry products may also provide a small benefit for endurance exercise performance.[2]

Evidence from a few studies suggests that tart cherry juice has the potential to improve some sleep quality parameters, both in older adults with insomnia[7] and younger adults without sleep problems.[8][9]

What are tart cherry juice’s main drawbacks?

Randomized controlled trials typically do not report adverse effects associated with consumption of tart cherry juice. Case reports of acute kidney injury from daily consumption of cherry juice concentrate, including black cherry concentrate[10] and an unspecified cherry juice concentrate,[11] have been reported in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Whether similar issues in people with CKD could carry over to tart cherry juice intake is unclear, but plausible.

The mechanism by which the polyphenols in cherry juice concentrate reduce inflammation (i.e., by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes) may also reduce kidney function in people with CKD.[10][11] Because tart cherry juice concentrate is rich in many of the same polyphenols as other cherry juice concentrates, it could also potentially be harmful for people with CKD.

Another potential drawback of tart cherry juice is its carbohydrate content. It contains polyols,[12] a specific type of carbohydrate that can be harmful to people with irritable bowel syndrome.[13] A cup of tart cherry juice contains about 130 kcal, so it can theoretically contribute to weight gain, though studies have reported that supplementation with tart cherry juice does not affect BMI or fat mass.[14]

High doses of antioxidants can also impair exercise-induced adaptations,[15] so long-term supplementation with tart cherry juice could be detrimental for athletes, particularly in the off-season, when the goal is to maximize exercise-induced adaptations. However, direct evidence is needed to determine whether the commonly consumed dose of tart cherry juice is large enough to have this effect.

How does tart cherry juice work?

The benefits of tart cherry juice are thought to primarily come from its abundant polyphenol content, most notably anthocyanins, which possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.[16]

Tart cherry juice may improve sleep by increasing melatonin levels,[9] as tart cherries are a relatively rich source of melatonin,[17] and they seem to increase the availability of tryptophan,[7] which is used to synthesize melatonin in the body.

Tart cherry juice may enhance endurance exercise performance by elevating muscle antioxidant capacity, thus minimizing the production of oxidants during exercise, which can depress force production and contribute to fatigue.[18] Additionally, as a source of low-glycemic-index carbohydrate, tart cherry juice might support performance by promoting fat oxidation and allowing sustained carbohydrate availability during exercise,[19] but it’s unclear whether tart cherry juice is superior to other sources of low-glycemic-index carbohydrate. Another way tart cherry juice might benefit endurance exercise performance is by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the working muscles.[2]

What else is Tart Cherry Juice known as?
Note that Tart Cherry Juice is also known as:
  • Montmorency Cherry Juice
Tart Cherry Juice should not be confused with:
  • Cherry Juice
Dosage information

To enhance exercise recovery or endurance exercise performance, tart cherry juice should be taken daily for 3–7 days before the exercise session of interest and 1–2 hours before exercise on the day of the event.[1][2] To enhance exercise recovery, tart cherry juice should also be consumed 2–4 days following the event.[3] There has yet to be a study that assessed the effects of supplementing with tart cherry juice for longer than a few days before and after an exercise session, but it’s hypothesized that to maximize the effect of tart cherry juice on exercise recovery, athletes should supplement throughout the entire competitive season.[1] The most common dosage for tart cherry juice concentrate is 30 mL, consumed twice per day (60 mL total). The most common dosages for tart cherry juice are 237 mL or 355 mL, consumed twice per day (474–710 mL total).

To improve sleep, the most common dosage is either 30 mL of tart cherry juice concentrate or 237 mL of tart cherry juice, consumed twice per day, with one dose in the morning and the other 1–2 hours before bed.

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3.^Jessica Amie Hill, Karen Mary Keane, Rebecca Quinlan, Glyn HowatsonTart Cherry Supplementation and Recovery From Strenuous Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2021 Jan 13)