When it comes to supermarket shopping, tart cherry juice probably isn’t something you think of to add to the top of your list—that is, if it even makes it at all. But tart cherry juice packs a load of benefits that’ll not only boost your overall health, but your performance, too.
According to Sheau Ching Chai, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, 480mls of tart cherry juice per day is a good addition to any healthy diet.
“Tart cherry juice contains variety of polyphenolic compounds, potassium, etc.,” she says. “The health benefits associated with the consumption of tart cherries may include decreased muscle damage following strenuous exercise, reduced muscle pain, [and] improved sleep.”
Just make sure you’re drinking the tart, Montmorency kind—sorry, those sugar-laden, artificially flavored “cherry” drinks aren’t going to bring the same benefits.
Read on to learn more about the major perks tart cherry juice has to offer.
1. Reduced Muscle Soreness
According to a 2016 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “tart Montmorency cherries contain high concentrations of phytochemicals and anthocyanins, which have recently been linked to improved athletic recovery and subsequent performance.”
Additionally, a 2010 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that tart cherry juice reduced muscle damage and inflammation in endurance athletes.
2. Better Sleep
A 2014 study in the FASEB Journal found that drinking 580mls of tart cherry juice each day increased sleep time by about 85 minutes in those suffering from insomnia. Research also shows that drinking it can boost your melatonin levels, resulting in sleeping better and longer.
3. Improved Brain Function
A recent study published in the journal Food & Function found that when older adults drank 480mls of tart cherry juice per day, they experienced improved attention, memory, and ability to learn new tasks.
Another study cites the high amount of antioxidants in tart cherries and cherry juice as the reason, stating that they protect your brain cells.
4. Stronger Immune System
A 2015 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that endurance athletes who drank tart cherry juice in the days leading up to a long race were 50 percent less likely to develop an upper respiratory tract infection afterwards than those who didn’t.
5. Lower Blood Pressure
What’s more, tart cherry juice may be just as effective at doing so as medication is, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.