Tart cherries are loaded with important nutrients, but you’d have to eat an entire bag of them to obtain all of the benefits you can get by sipping the juice. The fruit also contains many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, and its juice aids in cancer prevention and heart health and as an anti-inflammatory, which can help alleviate a variety of ailments like asthma symptoms and pain.
In short, tart cherry juice offers protection against a host of conditions.
Before adding tart cherry juice to your diet, however, be aware that one 8-ounce serving of tart cherry juice contains 140 calories and 25 grams of sugar. These excess calories over time may cause weight gain — which comes with its own set of health problems — if you don’t cut back on calories elsewhere in your diet.
Tart cherries, like all red fruits and vegetables, are rich in anthocyanins, a class of antioxidant phytochemical (a disease-fighting agent found in plant-based foods).
Other fruits and vegetables in this class include raspberries, strawberries, beets, cranberries, apples, red onions, kidney beans and red beans. Phytochemicals give brightly colored fruits and vegetables their colorful hues. Anthocyanins, in particular, encourage healthy circulation, ensure proper nerve function and offer cancer fighting properties.
Consumption of tart cherry juice provides older adults greater protection against the development of heart disease, cancer and age-related cognitive decline, according to a research study published in August 2009 by the Journal of Nutrition. In the study, “Tart Cherry Juice Decreases Oxidative Stress in Healthy Older Men and Women,” researchers Tinna Traustadóttir, Sean S. Davies, Anthoney A. Stock and others investigated whether the consumption of foods high in anthocyanins is associated with improved health, in particular if the consumption of tart cherry juice (high in anthocyanins) improves the ability of older adults to resist oxidative damage.
Oxidative damage may lead to an increased rate of death and disease in the elderly in response to infections, and diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
“The roles of anthocyanin pigments as medicinal agents have been well-accepted dogma in folk medicine throughout the world, and, in fact, these pigments are linked to an amazingly broad-based range of health benefits,” says Mary Ann Lila in an article titled “Anthocyanins and Human Health: An In Vitro Investigative Approach” published in a 2004 issue of the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology.
“For example, anthocyanins have historically been used in remedies for liver dysfunction and hypertension; and bilberry (Vaccinium) anthocyanins have an anecdotal history of use for vision disorders, microbial infections, diarrhea, and diverse other health disorders,” wrote Lila, who currently serves as director of North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute.
Clinical research trials later supported the anecdotal and epidemiological evidence of the use of anthocyanins for therapeutic purposes, the researcher went on to say, noting “some reports suggest that anthocyanin activity is potentiated when delivered in mixtures” — that is, a juice blend may provide even greater results.
The ten superlative health benefits of cherry juice
The fruit is virtually a super food. Cherries
- Are low calorie so aid in weight loss. One cup of cherries has only 90 calories.
- Promote sleep. Two amino acids in cherries, melatonin and tryptophan have a calming effect and help with insomnia in a natural way. They also help improve the quality of sleep among people who do not have insomnia.
- Help with pain relief in osteoarthritis in a gentler way, particularly when painkillers don’t help.
- Increases immunity and resistance to various diseases.
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular ailments including stroke and heart attack thanks to the high levels of anthocyanins they contain. These also help with hypertension and diabetes that make a person more prone to cardiovascular problems.
- Help with muscle soreness and inflammation post exercise and high level physical activities.
- Reduce the incidence of gout attacks that are extremely painful.
- Help promote bone health and is a factor in reducing osteoporosis.
- Help lower the risk of colon cancer.
- Improve brain function and memory.
What makes tart cherry extract such an effective nutrient for the relief of gout?
For one, tart cherries contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give cherries their distinctive red color. Tart cherries are actually one of the richest sources of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2.
Cherries have traditionally been used to promote normal levels of uric acid and alleviate the pain associated with this condition.
The first known published study on cherries and gout dates back to 1950 in Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine. Dr. Ludwig W. Blau, the investigator, was himself affected by gout—so much so that he was confined to a wheelchair. After eating cherries, he noticed that his gout pain and swelling were considerably reduced. When he stopped eating cherries, his pain and swelling returned.
In a 2003 study, 280 grams of cherries (about 45 cherries) was given to 10 healthy women. Blood uric acid levels decreased by 14% after five hours, and excretion of uric acid increased.
And in a 2011 study, 10 overweight and obese participants consumed 8 oz per day of either 100% tart cherry juice or a placebo for four weeks. Although participants had normal uric acid levels, seven participants displayed reduced serum uric acid levels after drinking tart cherry juice. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), an indicator of chronic inflammation, was significantly lower with the tart cherry juice versus placebo.