If you’ve never heard of tart cherries, they’re simply just another variety of cherry. As the name suggests, this bright red beauty is more on the tangy side in comparison to your usual summer cherry. They’re also commonly known as sour cherries, Montmorency cherries, or dwarf cherries. 

Tart cherry supplements extract the goodness from these cherries (namely the juice) and package it up in a variety of convenient forms. A browse online will show you that tart cherry supplements are sold as a juice, as a concentrate (like a juice, but with the water removed), a powder, and even in capsules. You can also find tart cherries as a frozen or dried fruit in specialty supermarkets or health food stores. Take your pick, but remember with juices to always opt for the unsweetened varieties!

Tart cherries pack a nutritional punch; they contain vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper and vitamin K. They’re also particularly alluring (from a nutritional perspective) for their high levels of antioxidants, namely cyanidin, and are ranked within the top 50 highest antioxidant-containing foods. Snaps for tart cherries!  

So, what does the research say?

The exciting news is that most studies examining supplementation with tart cherries have concluded that they do impart beneficial effects. One thing to note, however, is that most of these studies are conducted using very small numbers of participants, and have mostly looked at the effects of tart cherries in older males. So, whilst the results are generally positive, it does appear that more research is needed on the topic with a broader cohort of individuals. 

A browse of the literature reveals the following benefits of tart cherry supplementation: 

  • Tart cherry supplementation may assist in lowering blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, subsequently reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 
  • Tart cherries can promote good health by providing positive anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • It can aid in reducing blood levels of uric acid, subsequently lessening symptoms associated with Gout. 
  • May assist in decreasing joint pain. 
  • Supplementation can help to increase levels of melatonin (a hormone that helps to regulate sleep) and increase duration and quality of sleep. 
  • Emerging evidence suggests tart cherry supplementation may have benefits for cognitive ability in a context of mild to moderate dementia. 
  • Regarding sports performance, tart cherry supplementation has a positive impact on endurance exercise; it may reduce muscle soreness and muscle damage, increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, accelerate recovery and may help in reducing pain during and after races in long distance runners. 

If you’re interested in trying out tart cherries, how much should you take? Always speak with your doctor and dietitian before commencing any new supplement regime for individualised advice. A general guideline for tart cherry supplementation based on available research is two 240ml doses of tart cherry juice per day, or 480mg of powder per day. If taking capsules, follow the instructions on the packet. For athletes, benefits were largely seen following supplementation for at least seven days prior to an event (1.5 hours before exercise), and for three days following the event. 

Like all supplements, tart cherry supplements may induce side effects in some people:

  • Interactions with blood thinning medications.
  • IBS symptoms such as stomach pain or diarrhoea, particularly in people with sensitivities to sorbitol (a type of sugar alcohol in some foods).
  • Not appropriate for people with kidney disease or liver disease. 

Have you tried tart cherry supplements? Reach out and let us know! We’d love to hear from you. 

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