After many years of research, tart cherries are beginning to emerge as a major super fruit. These dark red bulbs of fruit contain amazing anti-inflammatory benefits, help reduce gout pain and arthritis, and provide many heart health benefits. (1)
Several fairly recent studies have even suggested that tart cherries can help reduce muscle and joint pain in post-exercise long distance runners and even during running events.
A natural alternative to ibuprofen
Many marathoners and ultra-runners rely on ibuprofen to get them through a grueling race. In fact, any ultra runner will admit that this over the counter drug provides immediate and noticeable effects in reducing pain. (2)
Of course, in normal circumstances pain emerging within the body is its way of telling you to stop! However, for many competitive athletes, it’s ‘do or die’ during a competitive race. While ibuprofen do work, tart cherries provides a much natural alternative with equal benefits, if not better.
Vegan ultra runner, Scott Jurek, uses tart cherry juice religiously and states, “The all-natural tart cherry juice allows me to recover from tough races sooner, without taking needless chemicals that do more harm than good.” (3)
An antioxidant powerhouse
Tart cherries are packed with powerful antioxidants and contain the highest of any other super foods. Ranking 14th out of 50 in the highest antioxidant content per serving size surpassing wine, prunes, dark chocolate, and orange juice. (1)
The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is the antioxidant strength that measures how many oxygen radicals a specific food can absorb and deactivate. The higher the ORAC score means the more oxygen radicals the food can absorb. (1)
Per 100 grams, the ORAC value is 1,600 in cherry juice, 2,000 in frozen cherries, 6,800 in dried cherries, and 12,800 in tart cherry concentrate. As you can see the concentrate provides about 6 times more in ORAC value! (1)
What do studies reveal?
In a few studies, researchers have found that there is a link between alleviating muscle pain during intense exercise when tart cherry juice is consumed before and after long-distance races. The runners also experienced a quicker recovery in strength and less muscle pain compared to those who drank a different choice of beverage. (4,5,6)
Another study followed 16 well-trained male cyclists. These athletes ingested Montgomery tart cherry juice concentrate that is equivalent to eating 90 tart cherries, twice a day for 7 days. As a result, these athletes experienced less inflammation and oxidative stress during a 3-day race compared to those who did not take the concentrate. (7)
In these studies researchers say that Montgomery tart cherries contained natural compounds, including anthocyanins that helped these athletes prior, during, and after a workout. (4,7)
Available year round
The amazing super fruit of tart cherries are available year round in dried, frozen, juice, or even concentrates with Montgomery cherries being the most commonly grown tart cherries in the United States. (1)
Whether you’re an athlete or not, you can enjoy tart cherry concentrates on a regular basis by including it into smoothies, drinking it straight from the spoon, or mixing in with a favorite beverage!
Sources for this article include:
Image source: flic.kr