Pros & Cons of Cherry Juice

There are more health advantages to drinking cherry juice than disadvantages. You'll get all the benefits from the nutritional content of cherries in a concentrated form. Cherries have antioxidant compounds that may help reduce inflammation to prevent chronic disease, treat gout symptoms, and help with muscle pain and stamina during your workout. They may even provide you with a better night's sleep.

A refreshing glass of cherry juice can help you recover quicker from your workout. (Image: Nenov/Moment/GettyImages)

Types of Cherries

Two of the most commercially sold varieties of cherries grown in the U.S. are sour, or tart, cherries and sweet cherries. Sweet cherries, commonly Bing, are a dark-colored cherry usually eaten fresh. Manufacturers typically make cherry juice from the tart Montmorency cherry, which retains its bright-red color after being harvested.

Most studies in nutritional science choose to examine the Montmorency tart cherry for its potential health benefits.

Nutritional Benefits

Pro: Per cup, tart cherry juice has 159 calories with very little fat1.45 grams. Juicing cherries will supply you with all the healthy vitamins contained in cherries, including an abundance of vitamins A and C and the B vitamins — thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid and B12.

You'll also get mineral benefits from cherries, including calcium, manganese, potassium, copper and zinc in addition to a good balance of omega-3 fatty acids.

Con: Cherry juice is not a good source of protein with 0.83 gram per cup. Your body needs protein for building and repairing bones, muscles, cartilage and skin.

Con: Lack of Fiber

Although juicing will retain many of the valuable nutrients in tart cherries, the fiber content will be lost. Dietary fiber is important. It keeps your digestive tract functioning, which helps to keep you regular by providing bulk to your stool. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends your daily intake of fiber be between 22.4 and 33.6 grams, depending on your gender and age.

Cherry juice lacks the dietary fiber that slows digestion, which is beneficial for weight management because you feel satiated longer. In addition, fiber can help lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.

If you're juicing your own cherries, reserve some of the pulp and mix it back into your cherry juice to replace the lost fiber. Or add the pulp to other foods, such as yogurt, oatmeal or other cereal. You can even use the pulp when making muffins or pancakes.

Con: High Sugar Content

A large portion of the calories in cherry juice comes from sugar. The USDA reports that tart cherry juice contains 33 grams of sugar per cup. However, the sugar content of commercially prepared juice may vary significantly, depending on the brand. Because juice is made from tart cherries, manufacturers often add sugar for flavor.

Consuming too much added sugar may put you at risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and cavities, says the Heart and Stroke Association. Dietary Guidelines recommends that you limit your intake of sugar to less than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.

When buying ready-made cherry juice, be sure to check the label and choose a product that doesn't contain excessive added sugar.

Con: Digestive Issues

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that either naturally occurs in fruits, especially cherries, or is semi-artificially produced and added as a low-calorie sweetener to cherry juice and other commercial foods. Sorbitol is a poorly digestible carbohydrate and attracts water from your intestines, so its laxative effect can cause diarrhea if consumed in excess.

In some individuals, such as those with a medical malabsorption issue, sorbitol can cause abdominal bloating, pain or cramps; loose stool; constipation; excessive burping; and headache, according to Nutrients Review.

Pro: Source of Energy

Cherry juice has a high total carbohydrate content with 37 grams per cup. The healthy types of carbs in cherry juice are important in your diet to provide your body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. Dietary Guidelines recommends that your intake of carbs amount to no less than 130 grams per day.

While you may think carbohydrates can make you fat, meta-analyses of clinical trials show that diets containing foods high in carbohydrates, but low in fat are associated with beneficial effects on weight management and body composition.

In a study published in the journal Nutrients in 2018, overweight participants were given a plant-based, high-carb, high-fiber, low-fat diet. After 16 weeks, the study group experienced overall loss of body weight and body fat without adding exercise. Results also showed a decrease in insulin resistance — a condition where your body's cells do not efficiently use blood sugar for energy.

Pro: Relief From Gout Pain

Cherry juice contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that have been shown to alleviate the pain associated with gout. Gout is an arthritic condition that is usually characterized by pain in and around the big toe area but may also affect your hands, wrists, elbows and other parts of the body. As an alternative medical therapy, cherries have been used to treat or relieve the symptoms of gout for decades.

Gout is caused by high amounts of uric acid in the blood. A study published by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2017 assessed the effects of two servings of cherries in 10 female patients, compared to a control group. Five hours after consumption, researchers found that the group who ate cherries had a 15 percent greater reduction in serum uric acid levels.

Another review in the same study found patients with gout who consumed 10 to 12 cherries for two days had a 35 percent reduced chance of subsequent gout attacks.

Pro: Improve Your  Memory

Cherry juice contains flavonoids, including anthocyanins, which are antioxidants responsible for the fruit's red pigment. Anthocyanins have been found to have a potential benefit for memory and mental processes and may slow the process of degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer's.

A 2017 study assessed the consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice and its association with cognitive function in older adults. Participants who consumed 200 milliliters (6.5 ounces) of cherry juice per day, for a period of 12 weeks, showed improvements in speech fluency as well as short-term and long-term memory.

Conclusions published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggest that consumption of cherry juice has the potential to improve specific cognitive outcomes in older adults with mild to moderate dementia.

Pro: Recover Faster From Exercise

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidative capacity in cherries is thought to have an effect similar to that of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The use of cherry juice for headaches or other soreness may be a more natural alternative to pain relief.

If you partake in high-intensity workouts or prolonged training, cherry juice may help reduce muscle pain after exercising. Many athletes drink tart cherry juice for post-exercise pain.

A study conducted in 2015 and published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found Montmorency tart cherry helped males in resistant training. Findings reported that cherry supplements improved muscle soreness and shortened recovery time after intensive lower-body strength exercise.

Another pilot study, also published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2015, examined the effects of Montmorency cherry juice on stress and respiratory inflammation response following a marathon.

The results of the study found that runners who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice five days before, on the day of and two days after running experienced lower inflammation and severity of upper respiratory tract symptoms with a faster recovery of strength, compared to those who drank a placebo.

Pro: A Good Night's Sleep

Lack of sleep can make you feel physically unwell and perhaps stressed and anxious. The Mental Health Foundation says that lack of sleep may contribute to heart disease, premature aging and road accident deaths.

In addition, sleep insomnia is associated with increased prevalence of other disorders, including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and a decline in cognitive function.

As it turns out, a glass of cherry juice before bedtime could be an effective and natural sleep aid. Cherries contain melatonin, a compound well-known for its ability to promote sleep. In addition, researchers discovered that cherries also contain tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, that shows potential for curing insomnia and helping to regulate sleep cycles.

A 2017 pilot study at Louisiana State University found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice helps senior insomniacs to sleep better. Participants drank 8 ounces of cherry juice morning and night, one to two hours before bedtime for two weeks.

The results, published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, found that, compared to a placebo, tart cherry juice significantly extended sleep time by 84 minutes.

Pro: Lower Your Blood Pressure

The polyphenol content in cherries may account for its positive cardiovascular health benefits, including reduction of blood pressure, insulin resistance, cholesterol concentrations and platelet activity, according to a 2016 clinical trial. The study examined the effect of Montmorency tart cherry juice on subjects with early hypertension.

After consuming a 60-milliliter dose of tart cherry juice, subjects experienced a significantly lowered systolic blood pressure over a period of three hours. Conclusions of the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reported that the phenolic acids in cherry juice were possibly responsible for the beneficial reduction in blood pressure.

Read more: Diet With Cherries

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