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Montmorency tart cherries are the most popular sour cherries consumed in the United States and Canada. They belong to the lighter red Amarelle cultivar, as opposed to the darker red Morello cultivar of the sour cherries. These cherries are similar to the sweet variety, but the fruits are more acidic.

They are used to make cherry pies, jams and jellies. Montmorency cherries are also available as dried cherries and many companies also make Montmorency cherry juice and concentrate.

Health benefits

It has been studied quite often for various health benefits which are as follows:

1. Good nutrient profile

Sour cherries are low in calories but a rich source of various vitamins and minerals[1].

NutrientsValues for 1 cup (155 g) of raw, sour cherries
Energy77.5 kcal
Protein1.6 g
Fat0.5 g
Fiber2.5 g
Vitamin A1988 IU
Vitamin C15.5 mg
Calcium24.8 mg
Magnesium13.9 mg
Potassium268 mg

Sour cherries also contain good amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in addition to various other plant compounds.

It is important to remember that these values are of raw cherries and any processing, including juicing them, can alter the nutrient content. Some varieties of the juice have a lot of added sugar, which is not beneficial for your health. Therefore, always choose unsweetened juices.

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2. Improve sports performance

People who are into sports and physical fitness may particularly benefit from the tart cherry juice’s effect on strength and muscle soreness.

A study conducted on healthy runners found that consuming tart cherry juice 7 days prior to a strenuous running event and also during it, can help reduce the post-run muscle pain[2].

Also, Montmorency cherry concentrate has been found to be an effective functional food for enhancing recovery and decreasing exercise-induced inflammation after a high intensity, metabolically challenging exercise, such as cycling[3].

3. Strengthen the immune system

Tart cherries are a rich source of Vitamin A and C. Both these vitamins are powerful antioxidants, which help boost the immune system.

In addition, cherries also contain anthocyanins, which are plant based phytochemicals and have a great antioxidant power.

Consumption of cherry juice by runners before and after a Marathon race has potential to reduce the development of post-Marathon upper respiratory tract infection[4].

4. Alleviate symptoms of various forms of arthritis

Arthritis basically means inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis, which affects the cartilage of weight-bearing joints such as hips, spine and knees.

Tart cherries are rich in antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties and thus have a potential for treating arthritis. Consuming tart cherry juice twice daily for 21 days has shown to significantly reduce the C-reactive protein in women suffering from osteoarthritis[5].

Gout is another form of arthritis, caused by an increase in the uric acid levels in the blood. The uric acid gets deposited in the joints, causing inflammation and intense pain.

Studies have shown positive associations between intake of Montmorency cherry concentrate and reduction in hsCRP levels and also a lower risk of gout attacks[6][7].

5. Promote brain health

Degenerative brain disorders such as Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, etc. may be caused partly due to oxidative stress.

Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help in the prevention and improvement of these conditions.

Research has shown that cherries are rich in anthocyanins, which have a strong anti neuro-degenrative activity[8] and can also reduce the oxidative stress in older adults[9].

Daily tart cherry juice may help improve the cognitive abilities such as short-term and long-term memory and performance of various tasks[10][11].

6. Better sleep

Tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin-the hormone responsible for sleep. It also contains good amounts of anthocyanins and the amino acid tryptophan, which are essential for the production and sustained effect of melatonin.

Tart cherry juice concentrate has been found to increase the exogenous melatonin, which helps in improving the duration and quality of sleep in healthy adults[12].

Tart cherry juice inhibits the molecule indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), which degrades tryptophan. Thus, the juice increases the availability of tryptophan, which may be help improve insomnia[13].

7. May reduce blood pressure

Tart cherry juice has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in preventing hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

In older adults, consumption of tart cherry juice for 12 weeks reduced the systolic blood pressure and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol[14].

Another study found that a single dose of 300 ml of cherry juice helped in significantly reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as heart rate, 2 hours after consumption of the juice[15].

8. May help reduce weight

Obesity has been linked with metabolic syndrome and is thought to be one of the important causative factors for diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Even a moderate weight loss can help significantly improve the markers of metabolic syndrome, such as BP, glucose, triglycerides, etc[16].

In a study conducted on obesity-prone rats showed that tart cherries reduced the systemic and local inflammation and may reduce the degree of metabolic syndrome. Tart cherry intake was also associated with reduction in abdominal fat weight[17].

However, human trials are required to prove the efficiency.

9. Might help reduce pain

Anthocyanins and other flavonoids found in tart cherry juice assist in scavenging free radicals, decrease DNA degradation and also strengthen the biological membranes. These actions in turn help reduce pain and inflammation.

Supplementation with tart cherry juice for 2 weeks significantly reduced non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy (pain) in majority of the patients of the study[18].

Thus, tart cherry juice may help alleviate pain without any adverse effects.

10. May protect against cancer

Free radicals are extremely reactive chemicals that have the potential to harm healthy cells. At high concentrations, they are hazardous to the body and can damage the DNA and cell membranes.

Antioxidants are compounds that neutralise or scavenge these free radicals, thereby preventing them from harming the body. Such antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, anthocyanins, etc.

Montmorency tart cherry juice contains good amounts of these antioxidants and hence, may have potential anti-cancer effects. A study conducted on mice concluded that the anthocyanins and cyanidine present in tart cherry can help lower the risk of colon cancer[19].

However, more human studies need to be conducted in order to provide more accurate data.

Dosage and Safety

Most of the studies conducted have tested the benefits of tart cherry juice in doses of 24-300 ml and have reported no adverse effects at that dosage.

However, tart cherry juice may contain sorbitol, which is a type of sugar alcohol, that may cause some GI distress like stomach pain or diarrhea.

It also contains quercetin, a plant flavonoid, which can potentially interact with certain medications such as those used to treat elevated cholesterol, heart disease, certain anti-inflammatory medicines, etc.

If you are consuming any medication, it is advised to consult your health practitioner before consuming large quantities of Montmorency tart cherry juice.

Summary


  • Montmorency tart cherry juice has a good amount of antioxidants and other nutrients which provide various benefits to the body.
  • People who are involved in active sports or have sleep issues, should consider including the juice in their diet.
  • Sweetened juices will potentially negate the health benefits. Hence, it is preferable to opt for unsweetened ones available in stores, or make it yourself.


References:
1. nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1861/2
2. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20459662
3. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25794236
4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25983669
5. researchgate.net/publication/279508007_Efficacy_of_Tart_Cherry_Juice_to_Reduce_Inflammation_Biomarkers_among_Women_with_Inflammatory_Osteoarthritis_OA
6. sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464614002886
7. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23023818
8. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16366675
9. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19692530
10. pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/FO/C9FO00913B#!divAbstract
11. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26482148
12. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22038497
13. journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/Fulltext/2018/04000/Pilot_Study_of_the_Tart_Cherry_Juice_for_the.2.aspx
14. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30678193
15. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26654244
16. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12406040
17. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857054
18. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566454/
19. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12706854