All aboard the tart cherry hype train. We’ve recently talked about how the bright-red fruit can provide better sleep (with science-backed evidence), but there are barrels more to share about this tart little treasure.
Not only can it help you catch those deep z’s, but it can possibly encourage recovery for athletes post-work, and be a loyal companion to muscles, tendons, joints, injuries, aging and uric acid build-up! It sure is quite the list, so we’re going to keep it simple for today’s blog. Read on to learn more about post-workout, muscles and inflammation.
Tart cherry might help with muscle pain associated with running.
Runners, rejoice! When you’re going hard on the treadmill (or making the rest of us jealous as you stroll down suburban streets), this extract can help keep the bounce in your stride.
In one study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers studied how the dark red fruit’s juice could affect the stressed tension long distance runners feel after a session (1). The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial followed 54 runners both before and after a race. One group of participants consumed tart cherry twice a day for 7 days before their race, while they other took a placebo.
So, what did the researchers find? Both groups reported pain after their trek (obviously, we feel it too just reading about it.) However, the group who ingested cherry juice reported a smaller increase in pain than the placebo group.
So, adding a drop of extract in your water or taking a quick shot of it (like you might with apple cider vinegar) before and after your ellipitcal-sesh may not be a bad idea. It could help with soreness in the long-run.
The juice might also help reduce muscle damage associated with strength exercises.
Okay, so maybe you’re not a runner. If you’re more likely to perform strength exercises, tart cherry can still make up an essential part of your recovery routine.
In one study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers investigated the effects of Montmorency cherry juice and how it affects pain and damage felt after intensive unilateral leg exercises. (2)
Researchers focused the trail on ten seasoned athletes and over the span of two separate tests. The participants consumed the extract 7 days before their exercise and two days after the test. Exercise on both legs were accounted for. Finally, researchers took venous blood samples and analyzing for high C-reactive protein count (an inflammatory marker), total antioxidant capacity, creatine activity and more data related to oxidative muscle damage.
Here’s what they found: the tart cherry juice concentrate helped improve these markers, signaling a reduction in damage that can be caused by intensive lifting.
So, sprinkling this cherry into your water, smoothies or healthy snack on leg day could be a total game-changer for minimizing muscle damage.
It may also help encourage inflammation-reduction.
Because of its antioxidants & anthocyanins, tart cherries’ juice may help your body respond to inflammation.
One study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports studied how its benefits concerning oxidative stress and muscle damage related to inflammation in marathon runners (3). For this trial, participants drank either cherry juice or a placebo before five days before their marathon run and and two days after.
What were the results? The cherry group showed signs (reduced C-reactive protein levels and other markers) of less inflammation when compared to the placebo group. Plus, the group showed higher lipid peroxidation. In English — their muscles were recovering better.
Simple Post-workout Smoothie Recipe
Ready to give tart cherry a try? Besides adding it to a glass of water each day, it can easily work in any smoothie, too.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Frozen or fresh fruit (about 1 cup). We recommend pineapple or berries for some tropical feels. You can also go with beets for a oxidative boost. Cherry and beets make a surprising tasty pair. That’s why they’re both ingredients in our Organic Power Beets – Rapid Recovery mix.
- Spinach or kale. Pick an essential green and chop it up. Don’t go over half a cup (you don’t want to overpower the taste).
- Your choice of yogurt or smoothie-base. We love a good non-diary, almond yogurt, but you can adjust to your liking. Just keep it under half a cup. Feel free to also use a protein-blend.
- Tart cherry extract/juice. Obviously, this extract is the star of the show. You’ll want to tailor the amount to taste. We would recommend starting with one or two tablespoons first, then go from there.
- Kuehl, K. S., Perrier, E. T., Elliot, D. L., & Chesnutt, J. C. (2010). Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7, 17. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-17
- Bowtell JL, Sumners DP, Dyer A, Fox P, Mileva KN. Montmorency tart cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011;43:1544-1551.
- Howatson G., McHugh M.P., Hill J.A., Brouner J., Jewell A.P., van Someren K.A., Shave R.E., Howatson S.A. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports. 2010;20:843–852. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01005.x.