The study showed that people who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long-distance run reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who didn’t. Post-exercise pain can often indicate muscle damage or debilitating injuries.
In the study of 60 healthy adults aged 18-50 years, those who drank 10.5oz of cherry juice (Cherrish 100% Montmorency cherry juice) twice a day for seven days prior to, and on the day of, a long-distance relay had significantly less muscle pain following the race than those who drank another fruit juice beverage.
On a scale from 0-10, the runners who drank cherry juice as their “sports drink” had a two-point lower self-reported pain level at the completion of the race – a clinically significant difference.
While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of tart cherry juice, researchers say the early findings indicate cherries may work like common medications used by runners to alleviate post-exercise inflammation.
“For most runners, post-race treatment consists of ‘Rice’ (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and traditional NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs),” said Kerry Kuehl MD – a sports medicine physician and principal study investigator.
“But NSAIDS can have adverse effects – negative effects you may be able to avoid by using a natural, whole food alternative, like cherry juice, to reduce muscle inflammation before exercise.”
The researchers suggest the humble cherry’s post-exercise benefits are likely because of the fruit’s natural anti-inflammation power – attributed to antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, which also give cherries their bright red colour.
Whether elite athletes or weekend warriors, the natural anti-inflammation power of cherry juice could have far-reaching benefits for active Americans currently taking over-the-counter pain medication to reduce muscle pain.
A growing body of research suggests cherries could affect inflammation related to heart disease and arthritis, and may even help maintain muscle strength for those suffering from fibromyalgia (a common, chronic pain disorder), according to a second study presented by the same researchers at the ACSM conference.
Cherries are not only good for you, they’re also a homegrown ‘superfruit’. According to recent data, more than 9 out of 10 Americans want to know where their food comes from, nearly 80% say they’re purchasing ‘locally produced’ products, and the majority are defining ‘local’ as having been made in America.
This homegrown advantage, coupled with potential health benefits for athletes, make cherries ‘America’s superfruit’. Tart cherries come in dried, frozen and juice forms so they’re readily available to enjoy all year long.
Source: The Cherry Marketing Institute
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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