If you’ve been paying attention to the therapeutic aisle at your local health food store, you may have noticed tart cherry juice on the shelf. Not the same as the sweet cherries you snack on in the summer months, tart cherries are smaller and a bright red color, and they’re used to make one of the healthiest drinks out there.
Tart cherries are typically consumed juiced, frozen or dried for their impressive nutrition profile and health benefits. Drinking tart cherry juice has become more and more popular as a natural remedy for issues related to inflammation, such as pain and muscle recovery. It also promotes better sleep and may reduce blood pressure.
Benefits of Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice contains antioxidants and an impressive lineup of nutrients, including copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin A. Research suggests that consuming cherry juice has the following potential health benefits:
1. Aids Sleep
Several studies show a positive relationship between tart cherry juice consumption and better sleep, which is largely attributed to the juice’s effects on melatonin levels. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that when 20 volunteers consumed either tart cherry juice concentrate or placebo for seven days, those consuming cherry juice had significantly higher melatonin levels.
Additionally, participants in the cherry juice group experienced significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Drinking tart cherry juice has been proven in studies to reduce inflammation biomarkers that are commonly seen in people with chronic diseases. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cherry juice is often used to alleviate pain and swelling, promote faster muscle recovery after exercise, and relieve joint stiffness.
3. Provides Pain Relief
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of tart cherry juice make it a useful remedy for pain relief for both acute and chronic pain disorders. People who suffer from joint pain, arthritis, gout and any other inflammation-induced pain disorder may find relief from tart cherry juice consumption.
4. May Lower Blood Pressure
Research indicates that cherry juice’s effective anti-inflammatory effects allow it to reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, thereby decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study published in Nutrients found that drinking 480 milliliters of tart cherry juice for 12 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure levels.
However, some studies did not find an effect on blood pressure from cherry juice consumption. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2022 suggests that, based on seven trials, cherry juice consumption does not lead to a significant reduction of systolic or diastolic blood pressure — so more research is needed to make a clear determination.
5. Reduces LDL Cholesterol
In a 2018 study published in Food and Function, men and women between the ages of 65–80 years consumed 480 milliliters of tart cherry juice or a control drink daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, participants in the treatment group had lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
The treatment group did, however, have higher levels of glucose after 12 weeks of juice consumption than the control group.
6. Supports Muscle Recovery
A study published in Medicine and Sport Science revealed that tart cherry juice is effective in the prevention, treatment and recovery of soft tissue injury and pain. Among athletes and non-athletes, it has been proven to reduce inflammatory pain, swelling and irritation resulting from muscle injury.
Another study, published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, found that ingesting tart cherry juice for seven days prior to and during a strenuous running event can work to minimize post-run muscle pain. Athletes in the study consumed 355-milliliter bottles of cherry juice twice daily for one week.
7. Contains Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid present in cherries and other deeply red, purple and blue foods. They work as antioxidants and protect the body from chronic disease, while also improving immune system function.
Anthocyanins have can enhance exercise performance and recovery, and improve cognitive function, including memory, coordination and motor skills.
How to Make and Consume
You can find tart cherry juice at most grocery or health food stores. Look for an organic option with no added sweeteners or preservatives.
You can also make your own juice at home from fresh tart cherries.
To make tart cherry juice at home, follow these steps:
- Combine one cup of washed and de-stemmed tart cherries and a cup of water in a blender or food processor.
- Blend the cherries until the pits and juices come out.
- Use a sieve to separate the pits and fruit meat.
- Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator, and use within five days.
There’s no specific recommendation for tart cherry juice consumption, but several studies involve doses of 240 milliliters (eight ounces) once daily for 12 weeks.
Tart cherry juice powder or capsules are also available, with doses typically around 480 milligrams per day. Read the instructions on the label carefully if you’re taking a tart cherry juice supplement.
Risks and Side Effects
An eight-ounce serving of tart cherry juice contains about 159 calories and 37 grams of carbohydrates, so be sure to use it in moderation in order to avoid excess calorie consumption.
Most studies include a 12-week consumption period, so if you’re using tart cherry juice for a longer period of time, consult your health care provider to ensure it’s safe and useful for your specific needs.
If you’re taking blood thinners, speak to your doctor before using tart cherry juice therapeutically because the quercetin content may interact with these types of medications. If you experience adverse reactions to cherry juice, such as digestive problems, discontinue use.
- Tart cherry juice contains antioxidants and an impressive lineup of nutrients, including copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin A.
- Research suggests that consuming tart cherry juice has several potential health benefits, including reduced inflammation, better sleep, healthier immune system and cognitive function, and better muscle recovery.
- You can purchase tart cherry juice from most grocery stores or make your own at home by blending tart cherries in water, then sieving the mixture into an airtight container.