Tart Cherry Juice
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
Cherries are a member of the stone fruit family and can meaningfully contribute to dietary intakes of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. 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. 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.
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. Tart cherry products may also provide a small benefit for endurance exercise performance.
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 and younger adults without sleep problems.
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 and an unspecified cherry juice concentrate, 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. 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, a specific type of carbohydrate that can be harmful to people with irritable bowel syndrome. 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.
High doses of antioxidants can also impair exercise-induced adaptations, 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.
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.
Tart cherry juice may improve sleep by increasing melatonin levels, as tart cherries are a relatively rich source of melatonin, and they seem to increase the availability of tryptophan, 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. 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, 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.
- Montmorency Cherry Juice
- Cherry Juice
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. To enhance exercise recovery, tart cherry juice should also be consumed 2–4 days following the event. 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. 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.
Both sweet and tart cherries are rich in polyphenols, particularly anthocyanins, and demonstrate the potential to improve a myriad of health outcomes. Tart cherries contain higher amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene than sweet cherries.
The concentration and composition of polyphenols varies between different cultivars of sweet and tart cherries, which makes it difficult to generalize about differences between sweet and tart cherries. Nonetheless, it’s possible to compare the most commonly grown cultivar of sweet and tart cherries in the U.S., which are Bing and Montmorency cherries, respectively. In this case, tart cherries seem to have higher concentrations of total polyphenols than sweet cherries, while sweet cherries contain more anthocyanins.
Besides anthocyanins, cherries are rich in other polyphenols, including hydroxycinnamates and flavan-3-ols. Bing cherries seem to have a higher proportion of flavan-3-ols than Montmorency cherries, whereas Montmorency cherries seem to have a higher proportion of hydroxycinnamates than Bing cherries.
Another difference between the two main types of cherries is that tart cherry products are almost exclusively used in exercise science research. This appears to be a consequence of cost and availability rather than differences in polyphenol concentrations or other factors that could influence health outcomes. In fact, some types of sweet cherries compare favorably to tart cherries, so it’s possible that their effects in the body aren’t all that different, but further randomized controlled trials putting sweet and tart cherries head-to-head are needed to confirm this.
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- Uric Acid - Keith R Martin, Katie M ColesConsumption of 100% Tart Cherry Juice Reduces Serum Urate in Overweight and Obese AdultsCurr Dev Nutr.(2019 Feb 25)
- Gout Symptoms - Lisa K Stamp, Peter Chapman, Christopher Frampton, Stephen B Duffull, Jill Drake, Yuqing Zhang, Tuhina NeogiLack of effect of tart cherry concentrate dose on serum urate in people with goutRheumatology (Oxford).(2020 Sep 1)
- Uric Acid - Angela R Hillman, Bryna C R ChrismasThirty Days of Montmorency Tart Cherry Supplementation Has No Effect on Gut Microbiome Composition, Inflammation, or Glycemic Control in Healthy AdultsFront Nutr.(2021 Sep 16)
- Nitric Oxide - Keane KM, Bailey SJ, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM, Howatson GEffects of montmorency tart cherry (L. Prunus Cerasus) consumption on nitric oxide biomarkers and exercise performance.Scand J Med Sci Sports.(2018-Jul)