10 Amazing Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Zemira Barnes (MS)

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Many people are turning to tart cherry juice for better health. It has a rich supply of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Tart cherry juice prevents gout and helps you sleep better at night. Its amazing list of benefits is also the reason why many athletes prefer tart cherry juice as a post-workout recovery boost!

What is Tart Cherry Juice?

Tart cherry juice is derived from tart cherries, a species of cherry scientifically known as Prunus cerasus. It is native to certain parts of Asia and Europe, where it has been cultivated for centuries. You may also know this species by other common names, such as sour cherry, dwarf cherry, or Montmorency cherry. Unlike common cherries that you can find in most grocery stores, tart cherries aren’t as regularly stocked, due to their high acidity.

Nutrition Facts

Cherry juice, tart
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]85.18
Energy [kcal]59
Energy [kJ]248
Protein [g]0.31
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.54
Ash [g]0.28
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]13.7
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]12.21
Glucose (dextrose) [g]7.26
Fructose [g]4.95
Calcium, Ca [mg]13
Iron, Fe [mg]0.42
Magnesium, Mg [mg]11
Phosphorus, P [mg]17
Potassium, K [mg]161
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.03
Copper, Cu [mg]0.04
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.06
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Sources include : USDA

Nutrition

Apart from the fresh variant, tart cherry juice is also sold as a concentrate and is included in various dietary supplements. According to the USDA, tart cherry juice is rich in carbs, fiber, proteins, fat, manganese, potassium, and copper. It is often fortified with vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, quercetin, phenolic compounds, and even certain useful hormones. The antioxidant is most well-known for are anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting in nature. The number of anthocyanins present in tart cherries is a lot higher than levels found in sweet cherries. Smaller quantities of calcium, iron, magnesium, omega 3, and omega 6 fatty acids are also found in this group.

Benefits

Let’s have a look at the numerous health benefits of tart cherry juice.

Regulates Blood Pressure

One of the most important elements of tart cherry juice is quercetin, which is a flavonoid that acts as a powerful antioxidant capable of reducing oxidative stress in many parts of the body, particularly in the cardiovascular system. It lowers LDL or bad cholesterol levels and with it, the blood pressure. This reduces the strain on the heart and prevents conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.  A pilot study recently found that consumption of tart cherries was linked to reducing systolic blood pressure which is used to define the total blood pressure applied against the artery walls when the heartbeats.

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Anticancer Potential

In terms of cancer prevention, the anthocyanins found in tart cherry extracts are very important. What makes them special is that they can remain active in the blood for up to 12 hours after ingestion. An animal study, published in the journal Cancer Letters, shows that tart cherry anthocyanins and cyanidin may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that a 14-day course of tart cherry juice helps improve chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in the majority of patients, with no reported adverse effects.

Boosts Stamina

Anthocyanins are linked to increased levels of circulation, which is good news for the cardiovascular system. It also ensures that various areas of the body receive proper levels of oxygen. This helps in boosting one’s stamina just when you need it the most.

A glass of tart cherry juice with a white plate of fresh tart cherries on a wooden table

Fresh tart cherry juice Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Weight Loss

One of the most effective ways of losing weight is to improve your metabolism. The active ingredients and compounds in tart cherry juice are very effective in achieving this goal. An animal research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that by reducing the deposition of abdominal fat, lowering cholesterol, boosting circulation, and preventing diabetes, tart cherry juice can significantly lower the risk for metabolic syndrome, which aids weight-loss efforts.

Promotes Muscle Recovery

With its stimulating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, this juice is very useful for people recovering from an illness or a muscle injury. Taking 8-12 oz of tart cherry juice twice a day was found to be most effective in promoting muscle recovery. This also makes the juice popular as a post-workout beverage. A recent study found that drinking cherry juice for a week before and during an intense run reduced post-run muscle pain.

Prevents Insomnia

According to a report in the European Journal of Nutritionmelatonin present in tart cherry juice is a critical hormone that the body uses to regulate its circadian rhythms and induce sleep. For people who struggle with insomnia or regularly interrupted sleep, drinking a glass of the juice before going to bed can ease you into a rejuvenating night’s sleep.

Treats Arthritis & Gout

Thanks to all of the unique antioxidants and chemicals, tart cherry juice works very well as a general anti-inflammatory beverage. It can soothe symptoms of arthritis, gout, headaches, and gastrointestinal distress. It can also help detoxify the body and reduce swelling from edema, thanks to the high levels of vitamin A and C found in this juice. Goat is a type of arthritis, that produces painful symptoms related to swelling of the joints. The culprit is the build-up of uric acid that forms urate crystals in and around the joints. These crystals can cause inflammation leading to gout attacks and chronic arthritis.

Boosts Immunity

Due to its rich antioxidant content, tart cherry juice helps in preventing infections by boosting the overall immunity of the body. Flavonols like kaempferol and quercetin are antiinflammatory and antioxidative substances that are usually present in high amounts in most fruits and veggies. These flavonoids work to strengthen immune functions.

Decreases the Risk of Diabetes

Quercetin, the critical antioxidant in this juice, is directly connected to lower incidences of type 2 diabetes, as it can help to regulate the levels of insulin and glucose in your blood, as per a study published in the Europe PMC journal. This is not only important for people at risk of diabetes, but also for those trying to manage their blood sugar levels after being diagnosed.

Improves Brain Function

A research report published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that tart cherry extract can lower oxidative stress that leads to cognitive disorders and neurodegenerative disease. The high levels of quercetin and anthocyanins are responsible for this brain-boosting ability, including memory enhancement.

How to Eat Tart Cherries?

There are many different ways to eat tart cherries, including the following:

  • Tart cherries are usually eaten dried, frozen, or juiced.
  • The cherries are commonly used in culinary applications, such as soups and meat dishes, and their extract is a popular element in desserts and candies.
  • While drinking pure tart cherry juice isn’t the most popular option, since it is so acidic and sour, many people dilute this juice with water and take it on a daily basis for a nutritional boost.

How much to Drink in a Day?

To derive the benefits of tart cherry juice, you can drink 1 cup a day. This amount is enough for the antioxidants your body needs. However, do read the label before you buy the juice. Some tart cherry juice brands may contain a high amount of sugar. To avoid an overload of calories and carbohydrates, it’s better to consume the unsweetened variety.

Side Effects

It can be safe to drink more than 1 cup of this juice a day if desired, but moderation is key, given the potential side effects mentioned below. It is not recommended that you drink more than 4 cups of this powerful juice per day. Before adding a new element to your health regimen, especially one with so many unique chemicals and compounds, speak to your doctor about any of your specific risk factors.

  • Weight gain: Tart cherry juice is high in nutrients, but it is also high in calories, especially since most brands also have high sugar content. The calorie count is at over 140 calories in a single cup. For people who are trying to lose weight, small amounts of this juice are acceptable. However, be sure to include this juice in your daily calorie intake.
  • Bleeding: Some of the active ingredients in tart cherry juice, namely quercetin, is able to help thin the blood, which can protect against heart attacks and strokes. However, if you are already taking anticoagulant medication, this combination can cause bleeding, particularly for people with pre-existing bleeding disorders.  The drink is not recommended either before or after any surgery.
  • Gastrointestinal distress: This sour cherry beverage has a significant amount of sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol found in certain foods. Sorbitol can affect your digestive system, even acting as a laxative at times. However, in large quantities, and for those who have sensitive stomachs, this compound can cause cramping, bloating, discomfort, and diarrhea. Always drink tart cherry juice in moderation.
  • Pregnancy: Although eating tart cherries has been deemed acceptable for pregnant and breastfeeding women, the higher concentrations of chemicals in tart cherry juice can potentially be dangerous to the baby, or even stimulate contractions. So it should be avoided by women in the last trimester.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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