Tart cherry juice is one of nature's most powerful superfoods, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It has been found to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, improve heart health, boost immunity, and even fight chronic disease. Perhaps the most notable benefit of tart cherry juice is its natural source of melatonin - a hormone that helps control our sleep-wake cycle.
What are tart cherries?
Tart cherries, also known as Montmorency cherries, are a type of cherry predominantly grown in the US and Europe. The majority of tart cherry production happens in Michigan, which harvested an astonishing 201 million pounds of tart cherries in 2018. What sets tart cherries apart from other types of cherries is their distinct tart flavor and nutritional profile.
Michigan is the largest producing region in the world for Montmorency tart cherries.
What is the nutritional information for tart cherry juice?
A typical 8 oz. or one cup serving of tart cherry juice contains 120 calories, 28g of carbohydrates, and 20g of sugar. With 100% tart cherry juice, 8 ounces is equivalent to about 50 tart cherries.
From a vitamin composition standpoint, tart cherries are very high in vitamin A, a nutrient that's important for vision, growth, cell division, reproduction, and immunity. Tart cherries contain 19 times more vitamin A than blueberries or strawberries.
What are the health benefits of tart cherry juice?
When it comes to health benefits, tart cherry juice is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give them their vibrant red color. These powerful antioxidants have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-microbial, and anti-obesity effects, and can even prevent cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that the anthocyanin content of tart cherries is up to 200% higher than that of sweet cherries, making them a superfood indeed. Let's take a look at a few of the potential benefits of this superfood berry.
1. May help reduce inflammation
Anthocyanins are exceptional at fighting inflammation and may offer relief from inflammatory-induced pain. Several studies show that tart cherries can help minimize the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other joint pain disorders.
2. May help with athletic performance and recovery
Tart cherry juice can also have a notable impact on athletic performance. In a consolidated review of 10 different clinical studies, athletes who ingested tart cherry juice 1.5 hours before exercise exhibited significant improvements in their endurance exercise performance. The study suggests that this is due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity, as well as its blood flow-enhancing effects.
In addition to athletic performance improvement, tart cherries may also help with recovery. One study found that drinking tart cherry juice has the ability to decrease some of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage.
3. May help improve sleep
Tart cherry juice has been gaining popularity recently due to its sleep-promoting benefits, especially among parents looking for a natural sleep aid for their children. Studies have shown that tart cherry juice is effective in improving sleep quality due to its natural source of melatonin and complementary phytochemicals.
One study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that participants with insomnia who drank tart cherry juice for two weeks increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that tart cherry juice increased melatonin levels and improved sleep duration and quality in older adults with insomnia. These findings suggest that consuming tart cherry juice may be a natural and effective way to improve sleep quality and duration.
Tart cherry juice is effective in improving sleep quality due to its natural source of melatonin and complementary phytochemicals.
4. May help fight heart disease and cancer
In addition to its sleep-promoting benefits, tart cherry juice has also been studied for its potential role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease. One study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that consuming tart cherry juice improved cholesterol levels and reduced the risk of heart disease in overweight and obese individuals.
Tart cherry juice has also been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, the anthocyanins in tart cherry juice have been found to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that tart cherry extract can induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in breast cancer cells.
It’s recommended to opt for 100% tart cherry juice and check the label for added sugars.
If you are considering tart cherry juice for sleep or the many other benefits it offers, it’s important to note that it does have a high sugar content. Some brands also add additional sweeteners. It’s recommended to look for 100% tart cherry juice and check the label for added sugars.
In addition to drinking tart cherry juice, there are many other ways to enjoy the benefits of this superfood. Tart cherries can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, or dried. They can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt bowls for a nutritious and flavorful boost. Tart cherry supplements are also available in capsule or powder form (as found in Night Minerals).
Tart cherry juice is a superfood with a wide range of potential health benefits. From reducing inflammation and alleviating pain to improving athletic performance and supporting heart health, there are many reasons to incorporate tart cherry juice into your diet. And with so many delicious ways to enjoy this superfood, there’s no reason not to give it a try.