Tart cherries and tart cherry juice have been the darlings of the fitness world for a while now, thanks to their ability to help alleviate joint pain and soreness, accelerate muscle recovery, and make athletes sleep more deeply. Due to recent studies and increased interest, tart cherries and tart cherry juice are making their way to the mainstream. We couldn’t be more excited.
What Are Tart Cherries?
Not all cherries are created equal and that’s a good thing because variety is the spice of life. Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus, to be scientific) are also known as sour cherries. The Montmorency cherry, primarily grown in Michigan, is the most common type of tart cherry. Unlike their sweet counterparts (which are delicious for snacking), tart cherries are best known for their presence in cherry pies and preserves.
While cherry pie is delicious, we are way more interested in tart cherries for their powerful health benefits. Tart cherries contain anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that are shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Basically, they help keep your entire body balanced and happy by fighting body stressors caused by diet and environment.
Muscle Protection: Not Just for Athletes
Endurance athletes have been consuming tart cherry juice since the 1900s, but they’re not the only ones who can benefit from it. Physical activity of any level typically leads to better health, but it also causes muscle damage (you need to break down muscle to build muscle), which can lead to inflammation and pain. Muscle fatigue and pain can also manifest from every day activities like walking, gardening, and carrying groceries. Tart cherry juice may be what you need to soothe your muscles. In fact, tart cherry juice may provide relief for those with osteoarthritis knee pain.
A healthy heart makes for a healthy life. A cocktail of mindful eating, exercise, and stress reduction is always recommended to improve your wellbeing. Drinking tart cherry juice is, well, like putting the cherry on top – it can make things a little bit tastier. Just as kefir supports your digestive system, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in tart cherry juice can support a healthy heart by reducing risks for heart disease and diabetes.
Feed Your Brain
Anthocyanin-rich fruits positively affect the brain, making cherries a great pathway to cognitive health. The high antioxidants in cherries help reduce inflammation in the brain, making it easier to retain information and boost memory. People who regularly consume cherries (two to three times per week) have healthier brain function and are less likely to develop dementia as they age.
It’s Juice; What Else Can I Do With It?
Tart cherry juice is delicious on its own, but we like to take it a step further and blend it with our kefir. Best of both worlds, right? Probiotic power for belly bliss, plus anti-inflammatory anthocyanins for a healthy, strong heart – what more could you want?
For a simple smoothie, try adding 1-2 tablespoons of tart cherry juice (we like this one) to 1 cup of plain kefir. You can also try mixing tart cherry juice in with kefir for quick and easy overnight oats (chop some cherries for double the benefits). It’s also great added to a smoothie or in a mousse. Try adding dried tart cherries to granola or sprinkled over a smoothie bowl, too! Just be careful not to over do it because tart cherries and tart cherry juice contain sugar. Talk to your doctor before adding tart cherry juice to your diet if you have blood sugar issues, are on any medications, or have outstanding health concerns.