Whenever you see us mention tart cherry benefits on Fnen.org, we’re mostly talking about this nutrient’s ability to help promote effective sleep.
However, there’s much more than meets than the eye when it comes to these nutrients. There are several ways that this fruit can help improve your overall health – and in numerous ways.
In this short article, we’ll walk you through the main benefits of Tart Cherries (or more specifically: Montmorency Cherries), along anything else you may need to know.
- 1 What are Tart Cherries?
- 2 Tart Cherry Benefits for your Mind
- 3 Tart Cherry Benefits for your Body
- 4 General Tart Cherry Benefits
- 5 Tart Cherry Benefits Summary
What are Tart Cherries?
Tart Cherries, also known as Sour Cherry, Dwarf Cherry, and if you’re feeling technical ‘Prunus Cerasus’ are a type of cherry found throughout Europe and southwest Asia.
In general, Tart Cherries are more acidic than sweet cherries that you’ll see in cocktails and other sugary consumables which is why they’re also known as sour cherries.
Tart Cherries are not sweet cherries. They contain a lot more Vitamin A – up to 20 times as much, and have 5 times as much antioxidants (source). A good way too tell them apart is that Tart Cherries are much lighter and redder than the much darker sweet cherries.
The type of Tart Cherry that we’ll be looking at closer today are Montmorency Cherries, which are commonly grown in Canada, France and the USA.
These are the types of cherries you’ll find in traditional cherry pies, but they can also be used in soups, cakes and tarts.
Over the recent years, more and more studies are coming forward showing that these cherries can benefit your health in several ways.
We’ve broken these down into three categories:
- Mind – How Tart Cherries can benefit your brain and sleep.
- Body – How it can help your muscles and joints.
- Overall – How it can help with general life, both long-term and short-term.
Tart Cherry Benefits for your Mind
There are two main areas that studies suggest Tart Cherries are good for your mind:
- Sleep – They may help you sleep for longer.
- Brain Health – Shows promise for helping protect the brain against degeneration.
We’ll cover these in detail, along with the accompanying studies below:
The biggest benefit for us when it comes to Montmorency Tart Cherries is how they promote sleep.
The reason they do this so well is because they contain a high amount of melatonin.
Melatonin is your body’s hormone for regulating the sleep-wake cycle (source). When your body gets more melatonin, you get more inclined to fall asleep.
It has a way of telling your brain that night-time is coming, and that you should start shutting down to get some rest.
Studies have shown that supplementing Tart Cherries can help improve time in bed, total sleep time and quality of sleep (study).
There’s also some evidence that it can help with insomnia. Subjects drinking 480 mls of Tart Cherry juice increased their average sleep by 85 minutes over a 2 week period (study).
It’s an incredible aid for better quality sleep, and we also hope that any sleep supplements we look at contain it.
More research is needed into this area, but the oxidative properties of Tart Cherry look promising for brain health.
To give you some context, oxidative stress is thought to be a large contributor to degenerative brain disorders (source).
The idea is that a high-powered anti-oxidant like Tart Cherry may help combat this and improve overall brain health.
Studies for this theory look promising. Subjects with mild dementia have been seen to experience better verbal fluency, along with a better memory when consuming 200ml of Tart Cherry juice over a 12 week period.
The results were far better than the placebo group who experienced no benefits – which strongly suggests the benefits of the tart cherry (study). However, we would argue that more research is needed to have a clear confirmation of this.
Quick Summary: Tart Cherries can benefit sleep by promoting melatonin levels. They also support brain health with their antioxidant properties.
Tart Cherry Benefits for your Body
Now we come to the more physical side of things. So, how does Tart Cherry benefit your body?
For this section we’ll be covering the major areas in the body where Tart Cherry has been showing promise for helping. These include:
- Muscles – May help increase your strength and recovery.
- Inflammations – Improves joint health and other inflammation-related problems.
- Immune System – Better bodily defenses.
- Waistline – Potential weight loss aid.
Some of these claims have more evidence than others. We’re going to give you the main studies leading each one.
If you’re interested in using Tart Cherry to benefit your workouts, good news! There are several studies which show supplementing Tart Cherry can support your muscles.
The ways that it has been seen to help include maintaining muscle strength, and boosting recovery.
In one study, a group of men were given tart cherry every day before, and straight after a weight lifting sessions. Another group did the same thing but with a placebo.
As a result, both sides lost strength after training, but the Tart Cherry group lost 4% less strength than the placebo (study). The takeaway is that it has the potential to make you stronger after a workout than you would be normally.
Studies also show that supplementing Tart Cherry can help to reduce soreness after a workout and even speed up the recovery time (study).
Tart Cherry can also benefit you with it’s anti-inflammatory properties. This can help if you’re suffering from joint pain, arthritis or something similar.
Supplementing Tart Cherry has been seen to help reduce blood markers of inflammation for women with arthritis (study).
It can also help against inflammation from Gout – which is another form or arthritis which involves swelling.
Studies show that taking Tart Cherry juice can help reduce a gout attack by up to 50% (study). However, more research is needed to confirm this.
Nothing special here, just good old fashioned vitamins and minerals.
Tart Cherry is packed full of various vitamins and minerals which can help strengthen your immune system. It’s also a strong antioxidant which can help keep your levels of infection down.
There’s not a lot of studies out there to specifically show that Tart Cherries can help your immune system – but plenty has been done into the nutrients contained within the fruit.
The only example of Tart Cherries helping fight infection at the moment comes from a marathon runner study.
To give you some backstory, when running a marathon, runners may experience upper respiratory tract symptoms – e.g. nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing.
In the study, two groups ran a marathon. One group drank tart cherry juice, the other took a placebo. 50% of the placebo group experienced the symptoms after the race, whereas none of the Tart Cherry group did (study).
More research needs to be done into this area, but it’s looking promising.
Out of all the benefits we’ve mentioned here when it comes to Tart Cherry, this is one we think needs the most further research to confirm.
There are some reports, typically by the supplement industry, that Tart Cherry can help you lose weight. At the moment, there’s only one study which shows this to the case – and it’s on mice.
Mice studies are not always an accurate representation of how it will affect you as a human. There are many cases where the benefits do not scale up. Nevertheless, mice taking Tart Cherry juice have been observed to have a reduced belly fat, and even blood cholesterol levels in some cases (study).
Again, we think more research is needed for this to be seen as an effective weight loss aid.
Quick Summary: There are some good evidence that supplementing Tart Cherry can help with maintaining muscle strength, improving muscle recovery and helping to reduce inflammation. There is less evidence for it helping with the immune system (although it does look promising) and weight loss (only mouse studies).
General Tart Cherry Benefits
Now we get to the day-to-day benefits of supplementing tart cherries. These are things that can help in your everyday life, and in the long run for your general health.
The areas that we’ll be looking at here include:
- The Nutrients – What’s in Tart Cherry, and how it can help with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- Anti-Cancer Properties – The qualities in this fruit that can help fight cancer.
- Relieve Pain – How Tart Cherries may help reduce pain.
- Lower Blood Pressure – Better quality blood pressure for overall health.
You can’t deny that Tart Cherries are packed with minerals and vitamins, many of which are vital to human survival.
Below, we’ve listed the vitamins and minerals found within a 155 g serving of Tart Cherries:
- Vitamin A: 1988 IU (40% RDI)
- Vitamin C: 15.5 mg (26% RDI)
- Vitamin E: 0.1 mg (1% RDI)
- Vitamin K: 3.3 mcg (4% RDI)
- Thiamin: 0.0 mcg (3% RDI)
- Riboflavin: 0.1 mg (4% RDI)
- Niacin: 0.6 mg (3% RDI)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg (3% RDI)
- Folate: 12.4 mcg (3% RDI)
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.2 mg (2% RDI)
- Choline: 9.5 mg
- Calcium: 24.8 mg
- Iron: 0.5 mg
- Magnesium: 13.9 mg
- Phosphorus: 23.2 mg
- Potassium: 268 mg
- Sodium: 4.7 mg
- Zinc: 0.2 mg
- Copper: 0.2 mg
- Manganese: 0.2 mg
As you can see, there’s a lot in here, with a considerable amount of your RDI when it comes to Vitamin A and C. It’s good for promoting your overall health, and would be welcome in any healthy diet.
It’s a bold claim to make to say that Tart Cherry fights cancer, and we’re not in a position to say it works just yet – but the research is looking promising.
Again, this is another issue due to the lack of tests. The antioxidant properties in the Tart Cherry are believed to help fight cancer. In mouse studies the antioxidants helped to disable genes which promoted cancer growth (study), again, this has only been seen in mice.
A lot more information is needed to see if this can work for humans. As we say, it is still looking promising.
Specifically a certain type of pain known as peripheral neuropathy – which is a type of pain caused by nerve damage.
This is believed to come from the anti-inflammatory properties of Tart Cherry with sufferers noticing a reduction in pain over a two week period of supplementation (study).
Lower Blood Pressure
There’s not much research into this area yet, but again like with some of the other benefits here, studies are looking promising.
In some cases, supplementing Tart Cherry juice has been seen to help reduce blood pressure (study). This can help reduce the risk of heart and kidney disease, along with other vascular related problems.
Quick Summary: There is some evidence that the nutrient-rich properties of Tart Cherries can help to reduce pain, blood pressure and to some degree fight cancer. More research is needed into these areas, but it’s shaping up to be a good natural aid to have in your diet.
Tart Cherry Benefits Summary
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits associated with Tart Cherries. Some are more supported than others when it comes to the studies, but on the whole we’d say it’s a positive addition to any diet.
The main area that we see it to have the most proof for is sleep. By containing a natural source of melatonin, Tart Cherries can help improve your overall quality of sleep and the speed that you can fall asleep.
It also seems to have a good amount of evidence for improving muscle strength, as well as helping with pain relief to some degree.
If you’re looking to sleep better, we believe supplementing Tart Cherry would be a good place to start if you’re interested in a more natural approach.