Tart Cherry Extract: A Treat for Sore Muscles

It may not be as exotic as those fruits from Brazil, but the benefits found in a tart cherry just might make this superfood the super-est. (Yeah, we know that’s not a word, but when you finish reading this article, you’re going to think tart cherries are the super-est, too!)

Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) are most commonly grown in the US and Canada, and they’re popular thanks to starring roles in baked goods and desserts. But these sweet tarts have recently acquired a whole new fan base: performance athletes!  

Tart cherries are loaded with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as manganese, potassium and copper, and have smaller amounts of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, omega-3s, and omega-6s (1). Still, it’s their unique plant compounds and antioxidants (2) that really knock scientists socks off—tart cherries have up to 5 times more than sweet cherries!

Do Tart Cherries Support Muscle Recovery?

Study after study on tart cherry consumption among athletes shows post-workout muscle benefits—the data supports less tissue breakdown, inflammation, and muscle soreness, as well as shorter recovery periods (3, 4, 5, 6). Here’s a look at some of the evidence:

  • Weightlifters who took capsules of tart cherry powder after doing back squats (hello, leg day!) experienced less muscle damage and less soreness in their quadriceps (7).
  • Resistance-trained athletes who supplemented with powdered tart cherries for one week leading up to, and two days after, intense exercise experienced less post-workout pain and inflammation (8).
  • Tart cherry juice reduced inflammation and muscle soreness in marathon runners (9), and when it was consumed for 7 days leading up to a marathon, tart cherry juice lessened post-run muscle pain (10).
  • When runners and triathletes were given a capsule of tart cherry powder before an endurance challenge, researchers measured lower levels of inflammation and muscle damage after the event (11).
  • Soccer players who did interval sprints after taking tart cherry concentrate clocked faster muscle recovery times and reported less post-workout muscle pain (12). 

Is Tart Cherry Extract Safe for Breastfeeding?

When it comes to munching on tart cherries, you’re in the clear. Healthy foods eaten as part of a balanced diet, in what would be considered normal amounts, get a thumbs up from nutrition experts and lactation pros. That means having a bowl of cherries in one sitting gets a smiley face, while drinking a gallon of cherry juice probably gets a frowny. So, where does that put tart cherry extract?

Tart cherry extract is a powdered form of tart cherries, derived from tart cherry skins—ingredient manufacturers dry them out, and them grind them up. When you consider the amounts-normally-eaten scale (13), the serving of tart cherry extract you consume in Mama Love Protein would get a smiley face, hands down.

 

Bottom line: The tart cherry extract in Mama Love Protein is safe for breastfeeding, and powerful enough to help reduce post-workout muscle soreness and promote muscle recovery.

 

Sources:
  1. Kirakosyan A, Seymour EM, Urcuyo DE, et. al. Chemical profile and antioxidant capacities of tart cherry products. FOOD CHEMISTRY, volume 115, issue 1, July 2009, pp. 20-25.
  2. Wang H, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, et al. Novel antioxidant compounds from tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). JOURNAL OF NATURAL PRODUCTS, volume 62, 1999, pp. 86-8. 
  3. Bowtell JL, Sumners DP, Dyer A, et al. Montmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & ENERGY, volume 43, issue 8, August 2011, pp.1544-51.
  4. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon training. SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS, volume 20, issue 6, 2010, pp. 843-52.
  5. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SPORTS NUTRITION, issue 7, article 17, 2010.
  6. Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, et al. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE, volume 40, issue 8, 2006, pp. 679-83.
  7. Levers K, Dalton R, Galvan E, et al. Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute bout of intense lower body strength exercise in resistance trained males. JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SPORTS NUTRITION, issue 12, article 41, 2015.
  8. Levers, K., Dalton, R., Galvan, E. et al. Powdered tart cherry supplementation demonstrates benefit on markers of catabolism and muscle soreness following an acute bout of intense lower body resistance exercise. JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SPORTS NUTRITION, issue 11, article P31, 2014.
  9. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon training. SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS, volume 20, issue 6, 2010, pp. 843-52.
  10. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SPORTS NUTRITION, issue 7, article 17, 2010.
  11. Levers K, Dalton R, Galvan E, et al. Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute endurance exercise performance in aerobically trained individuals. JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SPORTS NUTRITION, issue 13, article 22, 2016.
  12. Bell PG, Stevenson E, Davison GW, Howatson G. The effects of Montmorency tart cherry concentrate supplementation on recovery following prolonged, intermittent exercise. NUTRIENTS, volume 8, issue 7, 2016, pp. 441.
  13. Therapeutic Research Center. Sour Cherry. NATURAL MEDICIDNES. April 23, 2019.