Have you heard about tart cherry juice and its possible health benefits?

What is it?

Tart cherries, also known as sour, or Montmorency cherries, are light red in color and extensively used in pies, jams and preserves. They also can be dried and sold as pure juice or juice concentrate. The bottle of tart cherry juice in the photo above contains juice from about 3 pounds of cherries and retails for $13 here in Calgary. It tastes like one would expect it to taste – like a tart cherry!  It reminds me a bit of pomegranate juice in flavour.

Why do we care?

I’ve heard multiple people talking about this juice recently and found many posts online discussing the health benefits of pure tart cherry juice. In the post 10 Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice, author Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA) outlines many potential benefits of this juice. It is interesting to note that despite referencing scientific journals, studies and databases, she still uses the words “may”, “might” and “could” when describing tart cherry juice health benefits.

What are some of the potential health benefits?

What is known for sure is that tart cherries are rich in nutrients and do contain antioxidants. Pulling from the article cited above, here is a list of some of the potential benefits that might interest us athletes:

  • May increase strength and reduce muscle soreness
  • Could help you sleep better and improve quality of sleep
  • Might promote brain health
  • May strengthen the immune system

If you would like more details, please read Alina Petre’s post.

Are there negative side effects from tart cherry juice?

It order to possibly benefit from tart cherry juice, the daily suggested dose seems to be 1-2 cups per day.  According to the label on the bottle in the photo, that is 130-260 calories, 30-60g of carbs (22-44g of sugar). Those calories do add up if one is watching their weight. Also, tart cherries contain sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that can cause stomach upset.

What does Barb think?

Tart cherry juice is not new to LYNX nutrition post contributor and endurance athlete,  Barb Bryan. At every LYNX training camp she has attended, she has a bottle of tart cherry juice for the fridge.  I asked her why she drinks the juice and she responded very thoroughly! You can read her complete response in the post: Barb’s insight!  To summarize her comments, Barb said she uses pure tart cherry juice:

  1. To mitigate muscle pain and damage
  2. As an effective post-workout recovery drink (often in smoothies)
  3. To improve sleep quality

Based on the information above, I’m going to give it a try and see if it impacts my recovery after hard sessions  and / or improves my quality of sleep. Seems like there is lots of upside for this tasty drink!

Coach Mary