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What Is Tart Cherry Extract?

Contrary to the popular sweet cherry that everyone likes to buy around Christmas time and gorging ourselves silly with, the tart cherry is the other main type of cherry, which as its name suggests carry’s a more 'tarty' taste. It’s also often referred to as sour cherry or pie cherry because it’s the variety of cherry that’s commonly used to make cherry pie.

All cherries provide substantial quantities of antioxidants and other nutrients. But tart cherries deliver a much greater content of various anthocyanins than sweet cherries, as well as higher amounts of other phenolic compounds and other nutrients1.

Tart Cherry Extract Benefits

Tart cherry extract has been studied for a number of applications ranging from exercise to a nutritional intervention to lessen exercise-induced muscle damage, inflammation and oxidative stress. The high concentration of phenolic antioxidants in tart cherry extract is thought to underpin its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which have been demonstrated successfully in various studies. On a more general health level, consumption of about 45 cherries a day has been shown to reduce circulating concentrations of inflammatory markers in healthy men and women2.

Tart Cherry Extract Benefits For Endurance Exercise/Running

With regard to exercise and recovery, a number of studies have shown that supplementation with a tart cherry extract can help reduce muscle soreness associated with long distance running such as marathons3, 4.

Tart Cherry Extract Benefits for Recovery from Resistance Exercise

There are also studies which support tart cherry extracts ability to improve strength recovery and reduce muscle damage and soreness following weight training5, 6. Like the endurance exercise studies, subjects were required to supplement with the cherry extract for 7 days prior to the trial. The tart cherry extract was effective in improving recovery of isometric muscle strength after intensive resistance exercise. Again, this was thought to be due to tart cherry extracts’ ability to attenuate oxidative damage induced by the damaging exercise.

Tart Cherry Extract Negatives and Side Effects

Human studies using various tart cherry extracts have failed to reveal any significant adverse side-effects.

Tart Cherry Extract Recommended Dosages

Many of the studies that have employed tart cherry extract successfully to reduce muscle soreness have used a commercial 8 ounce bottle of tart cherry juice containing that contains the equivalent of 50-60 cherries and at least 600mg of phenolic compounds. While this particular brand is not yet available in Australia, it is important to use a form of tart cherry extract that has been standardised for phenolic content such that one aims to get around 500mg of polyphenols per dose.

Tart Cherry Extract Supplements

As alluded to above, tart cherry extract supplements typically come in juice or powder form. At the time of writing there are not a great deal of supplements that contain tart cherry extract, however, with new studies proving its efficacy for recovery and performance, it is expected that the ingredient will start to feature more heavily.

References

  1. Kim DO, et al. Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2005, 53, 9921-9927.
  2. Kelley DS, et al. Consumption of bing sweet cherries lowers circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women. J Nutr 2006;136:981–6.
  3. Howatson G, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20:843–852.
  4. Kuehl KS, et al. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010;7:17.
  5. Connolly DA, et al. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40(8):679-83.
  6. Bowtell JL, et al. Montmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(8):1544-51.
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