Tart cherry juice is rich in antioxidants and many key nutrients. It may also be linked to several health benefits, including decreased muscle soreness and improved sleep quality.
Tart cherries, also known as sour, dwarf, or Montmorency cherries, have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years.
Compared to sweet cherries, which tend to be enjoyed fresh, tart cherries are often consumed dried, frozen, or juiced.
Tart cherry juice is made from the fruit of the Prunus cerasus tree, native to southwest Asia and Europe, and is linked to a number of interesting health benefits (
That said, some tart cherry juice varieties can contain substantial amounts of added sugars. Thus, it’s reasonable to expect the most benefits from unsweetened varieties.
Here are 10 science-based health benefits of tart cherry juice.
- Calories: 149
- Carbs: 35 grams (g)
- Protein: 1 g
- Fat: 1.5 g
- Copper: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 9% of the DV
- Manganese: 7% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Iron: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 6% of the DV
One easy way to tell tart cherries from sweet varieties is by their color. Sweet cherries tend to be darker in color, whereas tart cherries retain their bright red color after being harvested.
Keep in mind that some varieties of tart cherry juice contain substantial amounts of added sugars, so opt for an unsweetened variety.
Tart cherry juice contains many nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Compared to sweet cherry juice, it may also contain higher levels of certain nutrients.
Physically active individuals may be particularly interested in tart cherry juice’s effect on muscle strength and soreness.
A majority of studies have reported beneficial effects.
In one older study, long distance runners drank either 24 oz (710 mL) of tart cherry juice or a placebo in the 7 days leading up to and on the day of a race (
The runners given cherry juice experienced three times less pain during and after the race compared to those given the placebo (
In another 2010 study, runners given 16 oz (480 mL) of cherry juice in the days leading up to and immediately following a marathon experienced less muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation. They also recovered faster (
Additionally, tart cherry juice and supplements may increase muscle strength.
One group of males was given tart cherry supplements or a placebo in the days leading up to and immediately following an intense resistance training session (
The tart cherry group lost up to 4% less muscle strength as a result of the training when compared to those given the placebo (
Tart cherry juice intake in the days leading up to and immediately following intense physical exercise may reduce muscle strength loss and soreness. It may also speed up recovery.
Tart cherry juice may be a safe and effective way to treat insomnia and increase the amount of sleep you get each night.
However, the amount of melatonin in tart cherry juice is much less than the amount used for insomnia. Therefore, there may also be other components in tart cherries that are responsible for its sleep-inducing effects (
Tart cherries also contain a small amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that can boost your mood and may also help regulate sleep. Serotonin can also eventually be converted into melatonin (
Plus, in one study, people with insomnia drank either 16 oz (480 mL) of tart cherry juice or the same amount of a placebo juice each day for 2 weeks. The cherry juice increased sleep time by an average of 84 minutes (
Tart cherry juice may help increase the body’s melatonin levels. This could reduce symptoms of insomnia and can result in better quality sleep.
Drinking tart cherry juice seems to reduce blood levels of uric acid — a chemical that can trigger gout when present in too high concentrations (
However, the total number of studies on this topic is limited and most are observational.
Thus, it is difficult to determine whether the cherry juice is the cause of the reduced symptoms or whether people with fewer gout symptoms are more likely to use alternative treatments like tart cherry juice.
Tart cherry juice’s anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce symptoms of gout. However, the effect seems small and more research is needed.
Tart cherries and their juice contain large amounts of antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds that may have protective effects on brain cells (
In one older study, consuming 16 oz (480 mL) of tart cherry juice daily improved antioxidant defenses in healthy older adults (
In another study, older adults with normal cognitive function consumed either 2 cups (480 mL) of tart cherry juice or a placebo for 12 weeks (
At the end of the study, those who consumed tart cherry juice had higher memory scores and performed better on learning tasks compared to those in the placebo group (
The high antioxidant levels in tart cherry juice may help improve cognitive function when consumed regularly.
Tart cherry juice is rich in many vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds proven to offer a boost to your immune system.
In particular, researchers believe that tart cherries’ high antioxidant content may help prevent infections.
For instance, one study researched the effect of this juice on upper respiratory tract symptoms commonly experienced by marathon runners after a race (
A group of runners drank tart cherry juice in the days leading up to and immediately following a marathon race while another consumed a placebo (
50% of the runners given the placebo developed upper respiratory tract symptoms following the race, whereas none of those in the tart cherry juice group did (
Tart cherry juice is rich in a variety of nutrients that may strengthen the immune system. However, more studies are needed.
Tart cherry juice may offer a variety of other health benefits.
- May protect against cancer: Certain antioxidants found in tart cherry juice may help turn off genes involved in cancer growth. However, this hasn’t been tested directly on humans yet and more high quality, recent research is needed (
- Might reduce pain: Tart cherry juice may help reduce peripheral neuropathy, a type of pain caused by nerve damage (
- May reduce blood pressure: Studies show that tart cherry juice consumption may lead to modest reductions in blood pressure levels (
- Could help you lose weight: Tart cherry powder was observed to reduce weight, belly fat, and blood cholesterol levels in a 2009 animal study. However, human studies are needed (
Tart cherry juice may also provide the benefits listed above. However, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
If you’re interested in the benefits of tart cherry juice, you may want to follow dosage instructions similar to those used in the studies above.
Specifically, most of the studies that observed benefits gave participants two daily 8-oz (240-mL) doses of the juice.
This is believed to be the equivalent of consuming around 75–120 tart cherries each day (
Regarding tart cherry juice powder, studies using powdered supplements typically used around 480 mg per day.
Benefits were mostly observed following 7–10 days of supplementing.
Tart cherry juice also contains quercetin, a plant compound that may interact with certain medications, particularly blood thinners. Individuals on medications should consult a doctor before adding large amounts of tart cherry juice to their diet (
Tart cherry juice is considered safe for most people. The dosage instructions above may help you maximize the potential health benefits.
Tart cherry juice is rich in nutrients, may offer several impressive health benefits, and is a simple addition to just about any diet.
It seems especially effective at reducing muscle soreness and improving sleep.
Therefore, physically active individuals and those with insomnia should consider giving this juice a try.
For the most benefits, opt for an unsweetened version or blend two handfuls of tart cherries with some water to make your own.