Tart cherry juice promises multiple health benefits, including reduced muscle soreness post-workout, alleviation of arthritis pain and improved sleep. Tart cherries contain compounds, including antioxidants and melatonin, which give them their powerful anti-inflammatory and soporific powers. Research is inconclusive on the positive effects of the juice or how much you need to consume to get the desired results, though. Before adding it to your diet, be aware that an 8-ounce serving contains up to 140 calories and 25 grams of sugar. These excess calories may cause weight gain over time if you don't cut back calories elsewhere in your diet.
Possible Benefits for Runners
The antioxidants in tart cherry juice may help you recover more quickly from your next workout. Research published in the December 2010 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that marathon runners who consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for five days prior to a marathon, on the day of the marathon and for 48 hours after the run experienced less muscle damage, soreness, inflammation and protein breakdown than runners who consumed a placebo. Another study, published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found that runners who consumed 11 to 12 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for seven days prior to a long-distance relay and during the 24 hours of the race reported significantly less pain following the run than those who consumed a placebo.
Improved Muscle Recovery
Weightlifters may also benefit from consuming tart cherry juice. A tart cherry juice supplement made with Montmorency cherries, a type of tart cherry, helped the muscles of well-trained, male athletes recover more quickly after isomentric strength exercise, reported a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2011. The participants consumed one ounce of the concentrated supplement daily for seven days prior to and 48 hours after exercise. Each ounce of the concentrate contains the juice of about 90 Montmorency cherries. The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a small study in 2006 showing that consumption of 12 ounces of a tart cherry juice blend twice per day attenuated strength loss and decreased some symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage.
Less Joint Pain
The antioxidants in tart cherry juice may have a positive effect on joint pain caused by inflammatory osteoarthritis. A 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Studies published a study in which women with osteoarthritis consumed two 10.5-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice, or a placebo, daily for 21 days. Blood tests revealed that those who consumed the juice had a significant reduction in a marker for inflammation,
Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep and slows aging. In a small study published in The FASEB Journal in 2014, older adults who consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice per day experienced an increase in sleep time averaging 86 minutes, compared to a placebo. An earlier study, published in a June 2010 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food, also determined that consuming two 8-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily was associated with improvements in insomnia.