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Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Tart Cherries

Tart cherries and tart cherry juice have been the darlings of the fitness world for a while now, thanks to their ability to help alleviate joint pain and soreness, accelerate muscle recovery, and make athletes sleep like babies. While finding cherries in any form out of season is difficult, finding tart cherry juice, unless you know where to look, is a downright challenge. Or at least it used to be. Thanks to recent studies and increased interest, tart cherries and tart cherry juice are making their way to the mainstream. We couldn’t be more excited.

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight:
Tart Cherries

healthy-ingredient-spotlight-tart-cherries

 

What Are Tart Cherries?

Not all cherries are created equal (that’s a good thing – variety is the spice of life, after all). Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus, to be scientific), also known as sour cherries, are primarily grown in Michigan. Unlike their sweet counterparts (which are delicious for snacking), tart cherries are best known for their presence in cherry pies and preserves.

Pie may is delicious, but we are way more interested in tart cherries for their astounding health benefits. Tart cherries contain anthocyanins – flavonoids that are shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Basically, they help keep your entire body balanced and happy by fighting body stressors caused by diet and environment.

Muscle Protection: Not Just for Athletes

We mentioned that athletes have been consuming tart cherry juice by the mason jar, but they’re not the only ones who can benefit from it. Athletic activity of any level typically leads to better health, but it also typically causes muscle damage (you need to break down muscle to build muscle, after all), which can lead to inflammation and pain. Muscle damage and pain doesn’t just come from athletic training; every day activities, including walking, can cause muscle stress and inflammation. Tart cherry juice has been shown in a number of medical trials to help alleviate long-term pain and aid in (even accelerate!) recovery.

Cardiovascular Support

A healthy heart makes for a healthy life. A cocktail of intentional eating, exercise and stress reduction is always recommended to improve health; drinking tart cherry juice is, well, like putting the cherry on top – it can make things a little bit tastier. Just as kefir supports your digestive system, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in tart cherry juice can support a healthy, happy heart.

Arthritis and Gout

If you suffer from arthritis or gout, you know just how painful everyday activities can be. When uric acid, a byproduct of cell regeneration that occurs naturally in the body, builds up, it can crystallize. This crystallization can cause an ever excruciating bout of gout. Multiple studies have linked tart cherry juice consumption with reduced risk and cases of gout.

It’s Juice; What Else Can I Do With It?

Tart cherry juice is delicious on its own, but we like to take it a step further and blend it with our kefir. Best of both worlds, right? Probiotic power for belly balancing bliss, plus anti-inflammatory anthocyanins for a healthy, happy heart – what more could you want?

Try mixing tart cherry juice in with kefir for quick and easy overnight oats (chop some cherries for double the benefits). It’s also great added to a smoothie or in a mousse. Try adding dried tart cherries to granola or sprinkled over a smoothie bowl, too! Just be careful not to over do it. Tart cherries and tart cherry juice contain a lot of sugar. Talk to your doctor before adding tart cherry juice to your diet if you have blood sugar issues, are on any medications, or have outstanding health concerns.

Sources:
http://www.lef.org/Magazine/2013/6/Anti-Inflammatory-Properties-of-Tart-Cherry/Page-01
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/completeazindex/a/tart_cherry.htm
http://www.choosecherries.com/tart-cherries-101/
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/TartCherries_HealthBenefits.htm
http://www.choosecherries.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/The-Red-Report-FINAL.pdf
http://www.prevention.com/food/food-remedies/cure-pain-and-insomnia-naturally-tart-cherries