The tart cherry isn't the cherry you're thinking of when you imagine the taste of cherry-flavored candy or foods. This slightly sour fruit can help you sleep better, reduce pain and so much more.
What Is a Tart Cherry?
Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) have bright red skin and contain less sugar than sweet cherries, which explains the difference in taste. Tart cherries are a great source of vitamins A and C as well as minerals like calcium and iron. What they're best known for are anthocyanins, which are phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants within the body.
Benefits of Tart Cherries
Tart cherries are more than delicious. Here are the five amazing benefits of tart cherries we think you should know about:
1. Sleep Aid -- Melatonin (a hormone) is one of the most popular sleep supplements, but it shouldn't be taken on a daily basis or in large amounts. Tart cherries actually contain a safe amount of naturally occurring melatonin that can help you sleep better. One serving (1 cup) contains less than 1 mg of melatonin, making it safe to consume daily. A December 2012 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition confirmed tart cherry choice raised levels of exogenous melatonin that may improve sleep quality.
2. Reduced Inflammation -- Inflammation is the body's natural response to stress or injury. It can cause pain, swelling and general discomfort throughout the body. Tart cherries are considered one of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods you can find, helping regulate the body's inflammatory response to reduce and possibly prevent symptoms.
3. Immunity Support -- Antioxidants are essential for protecting the cells of the body against free radicals, which are byproducts of oxidation. Free radicals cause oxidative stress and may damage the cells and weaken the immune system. Tart cherries are rich in antioxidants to combat these effects and keep the immune system on guard to prevent illness.
4. Muscle Soreness – If you exercise regularly and don't like to be sidelined by muscle soreness, first, you should stretch more before and after your workout, and then you should have a glass of tart cherry juice when you're done. The anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries may mean less muscle damage and soreness from training. An August 2006 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found tart cherry juice reduced strength loss four days after exercise, improving symptoms of muscle damage caused by exercise.
5. Blood Sugar -- The anthocyanins within tart cherries may also support proper insulin production to keep blood glucose levels in check. The only published studies thus far have been conducted on animals, but the idea of a natural option for regulating blood sugar is exciting for those living with diabetes.
How to Get More
Eating about 1 cup of cherries a day will allow you to enjoy this berry's health benefits, but if you can't get your hands on some, supplements can help. Tart cherry capsules and tablets provide a much more concentrated dose of tart cherry extract, which means you don't have to eat pounds of the fruit each week.
Another great option is tart cherry juice or juice concentrate (can be mixed with water). A pure, organic tart cherry juice with no additives will provide the benefits mentioned above in 1 glass. Try drinking it after exercise to combat muscle soreness or one hour before bed to help you sleep.
As with all supplements, speak with your doctor before adding a highly concentrated tart cherry juice supplement to your routine, especially if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or being treated for a medical condition, like diabetes.
Shop our selection of tart cherry products at eVitamins and let us know which ones are your favorites! Have a great week!
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