The tart cherry tree, or Prunus cerasus, is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is less sweet than Prunus avium, the sweet cherries that we buy at the grocery store. This is a powerful fruit, offering high levels of antioxidants, some of which you can’t get elsewhere. Drinking tart cherry juice concentrate is arguably the best way to take advantage of the health benefits, as you would have to eat an entire bag of tart cherries to get the same effect.
The tart cherry fruit is packed full of antioxidants, the most notable of which are anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid. In fact, tart cherries are ranked #14 among the top fifty antioxidant-rich foods. They even have a larger antioxidant content than red wine and dark chocolate. Aside from the anti-aging effects of antioxidants, anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory effects very similar to those of the popular drugs ibuprofen and naproxen. Drinking tart cherry juice on a regular basis could help protect you against medical conditions associated with inflammation, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and metabolic syndrome.
Drinking tart cherry juice can help prevent muscle damage, which is very useful if you like to exercise. One study showed that runners who drank tart cherry juice before and during a race experienced significantly less muscle soreness than runners who drank a placebo, as well as accelerated recovery. Other studies done on horses support the idea that tart cherry juice prevents muscle damage.
Tart cherry juice can be helpful in the management of chronic pain, such as pain from arthritis. One study, done in 2007 at the Baylor Research Institute discovered that people with moderate arthritis pain who consumed tart cherry for weight weeks had a large reduction in pain levels. They also had significantly less inflammation. Tart cherry concentrate can be useful in managing symptoms of arthritis, chronic headache, spinal pain, neuropathy, and more.
Drinking tart cherry juice is also proven to help you sleep. One study found that people with chronic insomnia fell asleep faster after drinking tart cherry juice, even when compared to the placebo group. This is due to the natural melatonin content of tart cherry. Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces when it gets dark outside, letting you know it’s time to rest by producing a sleepy feeling. Because of the melatonin content, the best time to drink tart cherry juice is an hour or two before bed.
If you have high triglycerides, tart cherry concentrate is the drink for you. In 2011, scientists discovered that mice given tart cherry powder had a 26% decrease in cholesterol, and were 65% less likely to die early due to improved heart health. Proof of tart cherry’s benefits for cholesterol is not limited to animal studies; researchers also found that humans who drank one cup of tart cherry juice daily reduced their triglyceride levels by over 17%. Tart cherry juice has many other health effects, including normalized blood pressure and a reduced risk of type II diabetes.