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Is Tart Cherry Juice Really Good for You?

We find out whether the claims are true or false.

Tart cherry juice has been front and center stage in the world of health for months, but why? Extracted from Montmorency cherries — a.k.a. sour cherries — this juice is rich in antioxidants that may offer a wealth of health benefits, including better sleep, lower inflammation, reduced blood pressure, and improved cognition. But don’t just take our word for it. In order to fully understand the research and whether tart cherry juice really is as good for you as sources claim, we did a little digging. Check out what we discovered below.

Claim: It May Improve Sleep

True. Enjoying a tart cherry sip for a nightcap may help you sleep longer each night. The findings come from Louisiana State University researchers, who gave study participants 240 milliliters of tart cherry juice twice daily for 14 days — once in the morning and one to two hours before bedtime. Those who drank the juice (as opposed to a placebo drink) slept an average of 84 minutes longer than those who didn’t. Why? Cherry juice contains procyanidins — a type of polyphenol, or nutritious plant compound. The procyanidins increased the bioavailability of tryptophan (an amino acid that helps the body make melatonin) in the participants’ bodies. In effect, drinking tart cherry juice may help your body absorb tryptophan from your food, which may result in a better night’s sleep.

Claim: It May Lower Your Risk of a Gout Attack

True. Research shows that tart cherry juice may reduce inflammation thanks to its antioxidants. And those anti-inflammatory properties may extend to gout attack prevention. In a 2012 observational study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice was linked to a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks. The positive effects of the juice were recorded even in participants who already took anti-gout medications. In addition, a scientific review from 2019 found that cherry intake in general is linked to a lower risk of gout attacks.

Claim: It May Safeguard Memory

True. Tart cherry juice is brimming with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help lower blood pressure and encourage blood flow to the brain — especially if it’s part of a high-antioxidant diet. In fact, 2019 research published in the journal Food & Function found that participants who drank two cups of tart cherry juice daily for 12 weeks performed better on memory tests than other participants. They were also better at learning tasks. Why might this be? The researchers theorize that the juice’s anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties helped lower participants’ blood pressure and increase circulation.

Bottom Line

Tart cherry juice does live up to the hype, but only to a degree. You may not see the remarkable health benefits of drinking it daily, because so many other factors are at play. For instance: It may not help you sleep better at night if your problem is sleep apnea, because the treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine — not cherry juice.

Also, your doctor may not recommend that you drink straight tart cherry juice if you have acid reflux or diabetes (it may spike your blood sugar). It may also be a bad idea to drink it if you take blood pressure or cholesterol medications.

Tart Cherry Juice Mocktails and Smoothies

Wondering how you can incorporate more tart cherry juice into your diet? Check out these tasty sips.

Cherry Lime Refresher

Drinking straight cherry juice daily may not be the best idea — especially if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. Try this cherry lime refresher to water it down.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 1 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Instructions: Combine all ingredients; divide between 2 glasses filled with crushed ice.

Per serving: Cal. 170 Pro. 1g Carb. 42g Fiber 0g Sug. 38g Chol. 0mg Sod. 35mg Total fat: 0g

Sour Cherry Spritzer

Looking for a cherry-infused cocktail? This spritzer is the way to go. (Keep in mind that alcohol is considered a toxin by the World Health Organization, so adding alcohol and sugar to your drink may render the health benefits moot.)

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  • 4 ounces tart cherry juice
  • 4 ounces cherry liqueur
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces sour mix
  • Sparkling wine

Instructions: In ice-filled cocktail shaker, mix first 4 ingredients. Cover; shake until chilled. Strain into 2 champagne flutes; top each with wine.

Per serving: Cal. 340 Pro. 1g Carb. 34g Fiber 0g Sug. 31g Chol. 0mg Sod. 25mg Total fat: 0g

Cherry Banana Blast

Craving a smoothie instead? Check out this bright, delicious recipe.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  • 2 cups frozen pitted cherries
  • 1 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions: Puree all ingredients. Divide among 2 glasses.

Per serving: Cal. 270 Pro. 6g Carb. 64g Fiber 5g Sug. 49g Chol. 0mg Sod. 65mg Total fat: 1g Sat. 0g

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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