Remember a few years ago when pomegranate juice was all the rage? Well, it seems as though there may be a new super-food fruit juice in town: tart cherry juice.
Makers of tart cherry juice claim that the drink can do everything from help with wrinkles, insomnia, headaches, swelling, puffiness around the eyes and — most importantly for exercisers — increase muscle recovery time. Manufacturers say that tart cherry juice is high in the antioxidant vitamin E, along with melatonin, vitamin A and beta carotene.
While there hasn’t been that much independent research on the juice, one study published in the online version of the British Journal of Sports Medicine evaluated whether or not a highly-concentrated, specially-processed tart cherry juice blend could prevent the symptoms of muscle damage in a 14 male college students. The study participants were asked to either drink a bottle of the cherry juice blend twice a day for three days before exercise and for four days afterwards, or to drink a placebo juice containing no cherries. The 12-ounce bottle of juice contained the liquid equivalent of 50 to 60 tart cherries blended with commercially available apple juice (from all the cherry juice blends on the market, this is a pretty typical blend, I’ve found).
The participants then worked out to muscle fatigue and rated their muscle soreness on a scale of one to ten. The whole process was repeated all over again two weeks later, with those who had taken the placebo juice taking the cherry juice blend instead, and vice versa.
And the results? Researchers reported that muscle strength had slightly improved after 96 hours in those drinking cherry juice, and while the degree of soreness differed little between the two groups, the average pain score was significantly less in those drinking cherry juice. Pain also peaked at 24 hours for those drinking cherry juice, but continued to increase for those on the placebo juice for the subsequent 48 hours. Researchers say that although more research is needed to understand how the juice helps (not to mention that this was a very small study), cherry juice could be a promising treatment for arthritis and gout, as well as that muscle soreness that so many people dislike!
Oh, and the best part of the juice? It tastes just like cherry pie — minus the crust, of course!