If you’re a fan of cherries, now’s your short window of opportunity to buy these super fruits fresh at your farmer’s market or in your grocery store. More than likely, you’re eating sweet cherries because tart cherries (aka: sour cherries) are too fragile to ship very far, so most people never get to taste a fresh one. The one exception might be if you live in Michigan, which grows about three-quarters of the country’s supply of tart cherries.
Some varieties of tart cherries you may have heard of are Montmorency, Morello, Acerola, and Amarele. Tart cherries in particular are being studied extensively for certain health benefits.
Tart cherries are extremely high in anthocyanins and flavonoids, which is the primary reasons they’re so effective at reducing inflammation. We’re talking as good as ibuprofen in terms of pain reduction. All cherries contain anthocyanins and flavonoids, but tart cherries have much higher amounts. These cherries may have benefits for people suffering from arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia — all inflammatory related conditions.
Recovery Process for Athletes
Tart cherry juice appears to help with muscle recovery after strenuous exercise by reducing inflammation and other cell damage naturally caused from exercise. If you’re an elite athlete or weekend warrior, drink tart cherry juice within 30 minutes after a workout or following a strength training session.
Decreased Muscle Damage and Strength Lost
In various studies on male athletes, drinking tart cherry juice did improve recovery of isometric muscle strength after an intense workout. Athletes who drank tart cherry juice also found strength loss and pain were significantly less in subjects consuming cherry juice vs. placebo.
Tart Cherry Juice
One ounce (2 tablespoons) of cherry juice concentrate contains all the goodness of about 100 tart cherries!
Since tart cherries are hard to come by, tart cherry juice is rapidly gaining popularity, especially among elite athletes and weekend warriors as a drink that helps speed the recovery process.
What Can You Do?
1) Try drinking tart cherry concentrate on workout days for less pain and inflammation. Drink10 fl. ounces pre-workout and an additional 10 fl. ounces within 30 minutes after a workout.
2) Carry some dried tart cherries in your bag.
3) Try a tart cherry smoothie – blend tart cherry juice or cherry powder with Greek yogurt and frozen tart cherries.
Tart cherry juice may be a safer way to treat muscle pain and inflammation than over-the-counter pain relievers. Dried or fresh, it doesn’t matter—it’s worth a try!
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Live Superfoods