Cherries make you think of the typical Americana summer season, cherry pies, cherry festivals, and even cherry candies. But one question remains – are cherries actually healthy? Turns out, they sure are!
Take note that there are different kinds of cherries. There are sweet cherries that are usually consumed fresh, such as Bing cherries and Rainier cherries, And there are tart cherries, flaming red and hard to find in their fresh form. This is the type we are going to talk about juicing today. Although hard to find fresh, you can find them canned, dried, or frozen in most grocery stores to juice to your hearts content! You can of course skip all that and find the juice and/or juice concentrate forms in most stores as well.
Tart cherries have been studied for their extensive health benefits. They can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, and muscle soreness. They can also promote brain health and better sleep in older adults.
The best way to consume tart cherries is by drinking tart cherry juice. Read on to learn more about the exciting health benefits of drinking tart cherry juice. We will also share a healthy tart cherry juice recipe straight from the kitchen of a Registered Dietitian.
Nutritional Profile Of Tart Cherries
Tart cherries are full of vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and ash. They also contain high levels of anthocyanins (specifically cyanidin), antioxidants that are also known to improve cardiovascular and metabolic markers, reduce pain, and other benefits. Tart cherries are also rich in potassium.
100 grams of tart cherries contain 60 calories, 13.7 grams of carbohydrates, zero grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber.
6 Science Backed Benefits Of Tart Cherry Juice
Tart Cherry Juice Can Reduce Inflammation & Oxidative Stress
Research shows that tart cherry juice helps reduce biomarkers of inflammation, specifically C-reactive proteins (CRP). It’s important to note that managing inflammation and reducing CRP levels can help reduce symptoms of auto-immune disorders (including arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and fibromyalgia) and prevent cardiovascular disease (a leading cause of death in the US).
Another study showed that older adults who consumed 16 ounces of tart cherry juice daily for 12 weeks had reduced CRP levels and increased DNA repair. With the average age of adults increasing, isn’t it amazing that something as simple as tart cherry juice can improve your lifespan and quality of life?
Tart Cherry Juice Can Improve Blood Pressure & Cholesterol Levels
The health benefits of drinking tart cherry juice don't stop with reduced inflammation and CRP levels. A small study also showed that consuming 16 ounces of tart cherry juice per day lowered LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol) and systolic blood pressure.
Medications for cholesterol and blood pressure can have side effects. Could you imagine swapping your medications for tart cherry juice? It’s important to consult with your medical professional before adjusting any medications. But what an exciting prospect.
Tart Cherry Juice Can Promote Better Sleep
Studies show that poor sleep can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a major stress hormone), decreased metabolism, and other health risks. Insomnia, or the inability to fall or stay asleep, is triggered by anxiety, depression, poor diet, stress, and other health issues. It can also get worse as you age.
Medications that treat insomnia often have undesirable side effects, so more people are turning to natural alternatives like lavender, melatonin, valerian root, and even meditation and yoga. But what about tart cherry juice?
An exciting study by Louisiana State University targeted healthy and older adults with chronic insomnia. They found that consuming 16 ounces of tart cherry juice (8 ounces in the morning and 8 ounces before going to bed) extended sleep by 84 minutes. Results also showed that tart cherry juice improved the quality of sleep, not just the quantity.
Another study showed that melatonin levels in the blood increased after consuming tart cherry juice concentrate. This resulted in improved sleep durations and less sleep pattern disruptions.
Tart Cherry Juice Can Reduce Post-Exercise Muscle Pain
Tart cherry juice may help reduce muscle pain after exercise.
One study showed that runners experienced less muscle soreness and more post-race recovery satisfaction when consuming tart cherry juice before and after a long-distance race. The high levels of antioxidants found in tart cherry juice help in reducing muscle damage and post-run pain.
The study also pointed out that tart cherry juice can be a substitute for NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). After all, NSAIDs can have adverse side effects when used over long periods.
The subjects in the study consumed 10.5-ounce bottles of tart cherry extract blended with apple juice, which sounds pretty delicious.
Tart Cherry Juice Can Reduce Gout Symptoms
Gout is the most common form of arthritis in older adults. It presents an excess amount of uric acid in the body. Typical interventions include dietary adjustments and medications like colchicine and NSAIDs.
It’s not a new concept that the antioxidants in tart cherries can help reduce gout flares. In fact, the oldest research about the subject dates back to the 1950s.
Limited studies have been done in this area, but a quick internet search proves that tart cherry juice is a common natural alternative for gout. It is used by thousands of people (if not more).
A peer-reviewed article also showed that the antioxidants in tart cherry juice can help prevent interleukin secretion and tumor-necrosis factor, two cytokines that can be harmful to the body.
Tart Cherry Juice Can Strengthen Brain Function
Brain health is one of the biggest health industries in the country. In fact, brain health supplement sales soared over 6 billion dollars in 2018. Everyone wants to keep their brain strong, and consuming tart cherry juice may be one of the ways to promote brain strength.
A study found that consuming 16 ounces of tart cherry juice per day (8 ounces twice) improved memory, movement time, and recollection. It also reduced memory errors. The article attributed the brain function improvements to the consumption of polyphenols, potent antioxidants found in tart cherries.
The article reminds you that cognitive function is directly related to the quality of your life. If you can both promote brain strength and improve the quality of your life by drinking something like tart cherry juice, shouldn’t you at least try it on for size?
Can You Drink Too Much Tart Cherry Juice?
With all the promising studies done on tart cherry juice, it seems like drinking this juice is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But like for any food product, moderation is key.
But is there even such a thing as drinking too much tart cherry juice? Could it have harmful side effects?
There is no recommended daily intake for tart cherry juice. But the average consumption in many studies is about 16 ounces per day. The unsweetened juice can be bitter, so it could be difficult to drink this much every day. It also has some naturally occurring sugar (fructose), which can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
It could be easier to consume tart cherry juice in supplement form. Your body will reap the benefits of the fruit in an easy-to-swallow capsule or powder mixed with water. But take note that supplements are not regulated by the FDA. You can never be too sure about the amount and quality of those you will find on the market. Some of them may even have ingredients that interact with medications, so it’s important to consult with your medical professional before adding any supplement to your diet.
You can also consume food products that contain tart cherries, like trail mix and snack bars. But consuming the whole version of the fruit is still better because you will get all the fiber and all its associated nutrients.
Bonus Recipe: Healthy Cheery & PB Smoothie
The benefits of tart cherry juice are seemingly endless. Incorporating tart cherry juice into your daily diet is a great way to reap these benefits. Here is a tart cherry juice recipe for you to try, straight from the kitchen of a Registered Dietitian.
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (preferably natural or organic)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) tart cherry juice (unsweetened)
- 2 cups fresh and rinsed spinach leaves
- 1 medium ripe banana
- 1/2 cup tofu yogurt (or another non-dairy yogurt), any flavor
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or more to taste)
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding a few pieces of ice for a thicker texture.
Nutrition information per serving: 323kcal, 19g fat, 31g carbohydrates, 10g protein, 4g fiber (27 net carbohydrates)
This delicious smoothie is great for any time of day. You can consume it in the morning with your breakfast, in the afternoon with your snack, or with your post-workout meal.
It’s ready in a few minutes. It’s also perfect for those who have plant-based diets (and for those who don’t). Add different fruits and vegetables depending on what you have on hand, and you have a personalized and healthy tart cherry smoothie.
Make one at home now and tell us how it went!