Q: Is tart cherry juice really beneficial for athletes?

 Tart Cherry Smoothie from Molly Morgan's book  Drink Your Way to Gut Health  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015).

Tart Cherry Smoothie from Molly Morgan's book Drink Your Way to Gut Health (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015).

A: Yes, it can be very beneficial. There have been many studies evaluating tart cherry juice and its benefits for athletes. What is extremely unique about tart cherries is that they have polyphenolic compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which is what helps tart cherry juice have a protective effect in the body. Specifically, research with athletes has found that tart cherry juice can help to reduce muscle pain and damage to the muscle. 

One study of 54 runners found that taking tart cherry juice (355 mL) twice daily for 7 days prior to the event and on the day of the race has less pain than the placebo group after the race. (Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2010). 

A small study of semi-professional soccer players found that tart cherry juice impacted key inflammatory marker (Interleukin-6), resulted in a decrease in self-reported muscle soreness, and increased performance indicators. The athletes took 30 mL of tart cherry concentrate twice per day. (Nutrients, 2016) A similar study of cyclists also showed tart cherry juice was beneficial for recovery and reducing exercise-induced inflammation. (Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015). 

The bottomline, working in tart cherry juice can help reduce muscle soreness and recovery. 

Choosing Tart Cherry Juice

Opt for tart cherry juice over a supplement and look for 100% juice, like Cheribundi ($13.74 or a 3-pack) or Indian Summer Montmorency($40.39 for a 8-pack).