Tangy and delicious, cherry juice is a refreshing beverage that contains around 128 calories per 8-ounce serving. Cherry juice is rich in vitamin C and contains potassium, iron, and small quantities of calcium and vitamin A. If you are looking for a reason to enjoy this drink, you will be happy to know that cherry juice comes with several possible health benefits. Read on for 10 reasons cherry juice can make you smile.
The vibrant red color of cherry juice signals that it is loaded with antioxidants. The anthocyanins of tart cherries are impressive antioxidants that prevent damage to your body caused by free radicals. Antioxidants may decrease inflammation, prevent heart disease, and protect against cancer. Anthocyanins may also play a role in protecting brain health and preventing mental decline and memory loss. For the most benefit when choosing cherry juice, look for products that are made from 100 percent cherry juice with no added sugars or chemicals.
9. Arthritis Relief
The polyphenol antioxidants and vitamin C contained in cherries have anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce symptoms of arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation lists tart cherries as one of the top fruits for reducing pain from arthritis flareups. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation compares the pain-relieving effects of cherry juice to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs come with a host of possible side effects, including thinning the blood, irritating the stomach lining, and contributing to kidney disease. Therefore, drinking cherry juice may be a safer choice for easing the joint pain of arthritis.
8. Lowered Blood Pressure
Tart cherry juice may be good for your heart as well. Studies suggest that drinking tart cherry juice can lower your systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart pumps. Hypertension occurs when the force of blood flow through the blood vessels is consistently high. Normal systolic blood pressure is a reading of less than 120 mmHg. Systolic blood pressure readings between 120-139 mmHg are considered at risk of hypertension, while readings over 140 mmHg reflect full-blown hypertension.
7. Reduced Cholesterol Levels
In addition to lowering blood pressure, cherry juice may reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. The same study that noted that tart cherry juice reduced blood pressure also observed a decrease in LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels when this juice is consumed. High levels of LDL are a major contributor to heart disease and can result in hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Cholesterol-lowering medications also carry possible side effects such as muscle pain or weakness, liver damage, and increased blood sugar levels.
6. Improved Exercise Recovery
Tart cherry juice can be a nutritious and refreshing beverage to aid in recovery from exercise. Cherry juice contains potassium, an electrolyte important for hydration and muscle recovery following a workout. The antioxidants in cherry juice also provide post-workout relief by fighting inflammation and oxidative stress in your muscles. Research presented in Nutrients studied the effects of Montmorency tart cherries on high-intensity cyclists. This study suggests that tart cherries improved cycling performance, aided in muscle recovery, and decreased muscle pain.
5. Relief from Gout
Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the blood and forms painful crystals in the joints. The anthocyanin antioxidants in tart cherries can help prevent the excruciating pain of a gout attack. An Arthritis and Rheumatology study noted that individuals who consumed tart cherries over a two-day period were 35% less likely to suffer gout symptoms than those who did not. While more studies are needed, this study and anecdotal reports from gout sufferers suggest that drinking cherry juice or eating tart cherries may help prevent painful episodes of gout.
4. Prevention of Osteoporosis
The anti-inflammatory effects of tart cherries may also decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak due to bone loss or an inability to properly build new bone tissue. Osteoporosis may be caused by nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise, or medical conditions. A study in Nutrients suggests that tart cherries may prevent bone loss by preventing inflammation and inhibiting a receptor that prevents new bone formation. Therefore, a refreshing glass of cherry juice may help maintain strong bones.
3. Gut Health
Tart cherry juice may improve the health of your digestive system by nourishing the gut bacteria necessary for proper digestion. A study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that the plant phenols of Montmorency tart cherries were beneficial for the metabolism and growth of healthful gut bacteria. Therefore, tart cherries are useful as a form of prebiotic. You may be familiar with probiotics, such as yogurt, which furnish your digestive system with live bacterial cultures. Prebiotics are compounds that nourish those bacterial cultures, allowing them to aid in good digestive health.
2. Improved Sleep
Tart cherries are an organic source of melatonin, the hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin doesn’t put you to sleep, but it helps you to relax into a state of restful wakefulness in preparation for sleep. Studies suggest that tart cherry juice can increase melatonin levels, resulting in a longer and more restful night’s sleep. To investigate the sleep-enhancing benefits of cherry juice, you will want to mimic the normal cycle of your body’s melatonin production. Try drinking a glass of cherry juice about two hours before you plan to go to sleep.
1. Increased Weight Loss
Tart cherry juice may also be a beneficial addition to a weight loss program of a healthy diet and exercise program. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that rats fed a diet of tart cherries had decreased inflammation and abdominal fat. Cherry juice provides the anti-inflammatory anthocyanins of this fruit. However, eating whole cherries would also provide the fiber beneficial for good digestive health and feelings of fullness. Cherry juice has many benefits. However, when drinking cherry juice as part of a weight loss program, be sure to monitor your portions to avoid consuming excess calories from the juice.