I went "window shopping" in Natural Grocers the other day, in search of something new. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, I normally go straight to the health section and totally ignore the fact that there is an entire store available to me. I started to walk through every aisle with my husband & daughter (my older boys were in school), hoping to see something I might need that I never knew I could get. They had samples for Tart Cherry Concentrate by Stanton Orchards. The presenter asked us if we knew about the benefits of Tart Cherry, and I told her well yeah a little bit. To be honest, I was a little hesitant to try it just because of the name tart. Then she handed me a flier and boom. I was sold, and let me tell you why.
What Is Tart Cherry?
If you haven't heard of it before, this is actually different from a traditional juice. The most well-known type of tart cherry is the montmorency cherry—it’s the kind you get on top of your sundae or inside a cherry pie. They are a variety grown in the United States that have a slightly sour taste. Unlike sweet varieties that are typically eaten fresh, tart cherries are commonly enjoyed dried or as a concentrate. It comes in different forms such as liquid concentrate, capsules, softgels, powder, and gummies. When consumed as a juice, it is typically delivered in its pure concentrate form with no added sugar or additional additives. And yes, it is pretty tart in flavor as the name suggests, but not overly sour I'll admit.
Ok so now that we know what it is, what does it do? Glad you asked! It has the richest anti-inflammatory content of any food. Full of immune boosting nutrients like vitamins A & C, quercetin, cyanidin, and anthocyanin. The most common anti-inflammatory drugs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), with its many side effects. A study in 2004, published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research , found that along with reducing inflammation, it also reduced swelling. Multiple studies show confirmation of reduced pain with continued use. It's also been found to reduce uric acid levels. High concentrations of uric acid are known to cause gout attacks, which result in intense swelling and pain. Cherry juice also reduces a biomarker of inflammation called c-reactive protein.
Another amazing study in England published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that participants with early signs of hypertension (high blood pressure) saw a 7% reduction in blood pressure after drinking tart cherry concentrate when compared to drinking a fruit-flavored juice. The reduction was comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive medication! Another study from 2009 and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that regular tart cherry consumption can decrease abdominal fat, while also reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Rids body of free radicals, absorbing and deactivating oxygen radicals and detoxifying cells to help prevent cancer. Tart cherry juice is loaded with cancer-fighting chemicals, including ellagic acid, limonene, perillyl alcohol, and anthocyanins. These chemicals are particularly useful against skin, lung, liver, and breast cancers.
What I've known tart cherry juice for is supporting insomnia. It's rich in melatonin (a sleep-regulating phytochemical) and has been found to improve sleep. It helps to not only sleep longer, but reduce time spent awake in the night. Results suggested that tart cherry juice has an effect similar to insomnia supplements such as valerian.
With results like these, minus all the horrible side effects, it's hard to not consider giving it a try. It can be used to help prevent certain conditions, eliminate existing ones, before a workout, or after workout recovery. It's easy to use, comes in multiple forms, and can be used as often or as little as desired. Plus as a natural fruit, it's safe for kids. You know what I'm buying next!