It is a very well known fact that blueberries, cranberries and oranges are all antioxidant powerhouses, but did you know that tart cherries also pack quite a nutrient punch? Known primarily for their use in cooking, tart cherries have also long been used by traditional healers as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments and diseases. Keep reading to find out the hidden health secrets of tart cherries and why adding this red superfood to your diet will be the sweetest thing you can do for your health!
Along with providing the fruit with its bright red color, the antioxidant compounds in tart cherries – called anthocyanins – have been found to block inflammation at levels comparable to some well-known pain medications. In studies of patients suffering from chronic inflammation (gout, arthritis and debilitating joint pain), a daily dose of tart cherries was effective in reducing inflammatory markers and helping manage pain. This would explain why tart cherries have been deemed “nature’s aspirin”.
Tart cherry juice has an extremely high antioxidant capacity. Research has shown that tart cherry juice improves the health of older adults by making them capable of resisting oxidative damage. Oxidative damage may lead to an increased rate of death and disease in the elderly with respect to infections, as well as diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The study concluded that consumption of tart cherry juice afforded older adults better protection against the development of heart disease, cancer and age-related cognitive decline.
Related studies have found that tart cherries can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Quercetin, an antioxidant contained in tart cherry juice, helps lower cholesterol and prevents the oxidation of LDL or “bad cholesterol.” When LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized, it is more likely to adhere to artery walls, form plaque, and contribute to the development of heart attack and stroke.
Sleep Inducing Benefits
Forget warm milk, chamomile tea and counting sheep, tart cherry juice is a key to a better night’s sleep! Research shows that tart cherry juice provides significant improvements in sleep behaviour, most notably longer sleep time, less daytime napping and increased overall sleep efficiency. Scientists attribute the sleep inducing benefits to the melatonin content of the red super fruit since melatonin is a powerful antioxidant critical for sleep-wake cycle regulation. It contains just enough melatonin to keep you asleep without the grogginess and habit-forming effects of traditional sleeping medications.
Best way to take tart cherry juice:
- Purchase Montmorency tart cherry juice as it is the richest source of melatonin
- Ingest 90 minutes before bedtime to allow melatonin to work its effects
- Tart cherry juice: one 8oz serving per day
- Tart cherry juice concentrate: 1oz concentrate to 7oz water (1-2 glasses/day)
- Frozen = 2 cups
- Dried = ¼ cup
Try this delicious recipe and reap the benefits of this incredible superfruit!
Tart Cherry Banana Smoothie Recipe
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
- Jacob RA, Spinozzi GM, Simon VA, Kelley DS, Prior RL, Hess-Pierce B, Kader AA. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr. 2003;133(6):1826-1829.
- He YH, Zhou J, Wang YS, et al. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of cherries on Freund’s adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats. Scand J Rheumatol. 2006;35(5):356-358.
- Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2010;13(3):579-583.
- Howatson, G., Bell, P., Tallent, J., Middleton, B., McHugh, M., & Ellis, J. (2012). Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. European Journal of Nutrition , 909-16.
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