Top 7 Sour Cherry Benefits & Uses

by John Staughton last updated -

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Sour cherry, used to make tart cherry juice, has powerful anti-cancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-obesity effects due to the presence of powerful anthocyanins. While the sour cherry benefits are many, its sharp tart taste keeps people away from having it straight out of a bowl. However, this tiny, bright red seasonal fruit is used to make delicious cakes, crumbles, jams, fruit syrups, and concentrates.

What Are Sour Cherries?

Sour cherry, also known as tart cherry, is the fruit of a small tree (Prunus cerasus) native to Europe but now grows around the world. It is related to the sweet cherry tree and is similar in both appearances and in the fruit it bears. However, although both species grow small, red fruit, those of the sour cherry tree are – true to their name – more acidic and tart to taste. The harvesting season for sour cherries is short and they are therefore most often found on the shop shelves, frozen rather than fresh.

Sour Cherry Nutrition

Sour cherries contain vitamins A and C and small amounts of sodium, protein, calcium, folate, and iron, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Fresh cherries contain approximately 50 calories per 100 grams and are composed of approximately 4% carbohydrates. They are abundant in cancer-fighting anthocyanins, a natural pigment which gives the cherries their ruby red color.

Sour cherry, or tart cherry, is abundant in vitamins A and C.

Top Sour Cherry Benefits

Many people are surprised by how many sour cherry benefits there are packed into this tiny fruit!

Anti-Cancer

Sour cherries contain antioxidants, such as ellagic acid and quercetin, which have been shown to single out and fight cancerous cells. They are also a source for melatonin, which might help protect the body from breast cancer. These antioxidants are able to seek out and neutralize free radicals and other unwanted substances that can lead to chronic inflammation and disease.

Anti-Inflammatory

Sour cherries contain anthocyanins, which can help ease pain from osteoarthritis inflictions and reduce inflammation in the joints and other afflicted areas, including hemorrhoids and migraines. Tart cherry juice is loaded with tart or sour cherry benefits, making it a popular health beverage.

Fight Diabetes

Anthocyanins have also been studied in relation to diabetes resistance, as these antioxidants can help the body produce insulin, which is in turn used to regulate sugar levels. This makes these fruits good for both diabetic individuals and those at risk for the disease.

Sleep Quality

According to a research study conducted by Dr. Glyn Howatson, recently published in the European Journal of Nutrition, the melatonin present in sour cherry may help to alleviate certain sleep conditions, improving issues with restlessness and insomnia.

Gout Prevention and Remedy

Sour cherries can help to lower the level of uric acid in the blood, which can help stave off gout and ease gout pain. Both, tart cherry juice and black cherry juice, are used in the treatment for gout.

Ease Muscle Pain

Sour cherries also contain compounds like gallic acid, kaempferol, and p-coumaric acid. Along with quercetin, these compounds may help ease the pain in the muscles and joints after strenuous activity or exercise.

Sour Cherry Uses

Sour cherry is usually available in gourmet supermarkets or in farmers markets as they don’t keep well for long. The Montmorency sour cherry is one of the most popular varieties of sour cherry grown in the US. It is usually available in frozen bags but if you manage to get fresh sour cherries, you can freeze them to be used later for winter baking. The tart taste lends itself to desserts and baked dishes, but you can experiment and use sour cherries in salad vinaigrettes, in grilled cheese sandwiches, and even in cocktails! 

Tart cherry juice and tart cherry supplements are available online as well as in supermarkets. Tart cherry juice is often used to reduce muscle soreness by athletes.

Side Effects of Sour Cherry

Sour cherries are best consumed in solid or liquid form, as the effectiveness and safety of sour cherry supplements have not yet been verified. Sour cherries are suitable for almost everyone without a cherry allergy. Eaten in excess, they may cause diarrhea, so consume them in moderation, and see how your body reacts before making them a daily part of your diet.

About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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