What is Tart Cherry Extract?
Tart cherries are also known as Montmorency, dwarf or sour cherries. They are available dried, juiced or frozen. Tart cherry juice often has added sugar for sweetening. The cherries can be boiled to extract the pulp, and then mashed. The supplement is also available in powder form.
Benefits of Tart Cherry Extract
Sour cherries contain vitamins A, B, C and K and lots of fiber. They’re also a good source of copper, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Tart cherries include 20 times more vitamin A than the sweet varieties. They also provide omega-3 and omega-6 fats and are rich in melatonin.
These little nutrition powerhouses aid in recovery after a hard workout. Benefits of tart cherry juice include reducing muscle damage and soreness after exercise (x). In powder form, it also helps reduce muscle soreness after strenuous weight training and prevents muscle loss after a tough resistance workout (x).
Oxidative stress creates inflammation, which leads to conditions and diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes and heart failure. Being deficient in certain nutrients such as magnesium can be associated with chronic inflammation (x).
Oxidative stress occurs when molecules containing oxygen lose an electron, which makes them very reactive with other molecules in the body. Oxygen molecules that have lost their electron are known as “free radicals.” The human body needs some free radical activity for specific bodily functions. However, having too many free radicals starts damaging the cells. A balance of free radicals and antioxidants is healthy.
Different types of antioxidants provide various benefits. Tart cherry extract is particularly high in anthocyanins, which are present in red, blue or purple fruits and vegetables. It helps boost antioxidant activity and protect the eyes.
The rich antioxidants present in tart cherry extract assist in reducing inflammation markers for women with osteoarthritis (x). This condition happens when joints become inflamed and break down with usage and time. Copper can also help alleviate arthritis symptoms and promote healthy aging (x).
In addition to their antioxidant properties, these compounds are anti-microbial.
Reduces Uric Acid Levels
Gout is a form of arthritis created when too much uric acid, a waste by-product, builds up in the blood. Tart cherry juice helps keeps uric acid levels low (x).
Helps Brain Functioning
Anthocyanin helps protect brain cells (x). Sour cherry supplements help patients with mild to moderate dementia (x). Studies on rats show that taking tart cherry extract improved their working memory and had lower levels of age-related inflammation (x).
A combination of essential fatty acids plus tart cherry extract helps protect against inflammation for Alzheimer’s disease (x). The condition is often made worse from oxidative stress, so antioxidants are essential to help keep the brain healthy.
Helps with Insomnia
Tart cherry juice has high levels of melatonin, which is known to help with sleep deprivation (x). Melatonin tends to increase with darkness, letting the body know it’s time to sleep. When it becomes light again, the body reduces melatonin production, which signals that it’s time to wake. Tart cherry extract is effective for treating insomnia (x).
The vitamin C in sour cherries help suppress colon cancer, and the fiber in the fruit binds to toxins that may cause cancer in the colon. It transports them away from healthy colon cells, thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer (x).
The antioxidants in tart cherry extract accelerate cell death (apoptosis) in human breast cancer cells (x). The vitamin A within it even shows some preventative action against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (x).
Tart cherry helps reduce blood pressure (x).
Cholesterol has three components. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is ‘bad cholesterol’ and along with triglycerides can build up on the artery walls, causing plaques to form. These plaques make it more difficult for blood to move through the arteries, which raises the risk of heart disease. If left untreated, arteries may become blocked entirely.
Tart cherry extract lowers LDL levels in people living with diabetes and obesity and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (x, x). It also has an anti-thrombotic effect, preventing blood clots from forming in the blood vessels and preventing calcium deposits in the arteries of older adults.
Plays an Important Role in the Functioning of the Immune System
Melatonin is an essential part of the immune system as it helps in the production of white blood cells and the absorption of vitamin A and copper. Copper is necessary for maintaining white blood cells, and a deficiency could lead to more infectious diseases due to the body’s inability to fight off invaders. Tart cherry supplements provide the copper that the body needs for healthy brain functioning, iron absorption and maintaining a healthy thyroid (x).
Good Eye Health
Anthocyanins in tart cherries stimulate blood flow in the eye, which slows down the progression of glaucoma. People with glaucoma have increased pressure inside the eye, which causes gradual vision loss. Melatonin also protects eyes against glaucoma, as well as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (x).
Vitamin C also helps diminish AMD. Age-related macular degeneration is one of the two leading causes, along with cataracts, of the loss of sight in older adults. The macula in the human eye helps us to see straight ahead in our central vision. AMD damages this part of the eye. The vitamin A present in tart cherry supplement is also crucial for eye health. Adequate vitamin A is necessary to prevent night blindness, cataracts and dry eyes.
Anthocyanins in tart cherry extract suppress metabolic disorders including weight gain (x). Blood glucose levels are regulated in part by the magnesium found in the fruit. Melatonin present in tart cherries may help heal ulcers and reduce chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease known as GERD (x). Acid reflux occurs when the muscle between the esophagus and stomach relaxes to allow stomach contents back into the esophagus.
Vitamin A found in tart cherry extract protects the lungs, particularly in smokers. Moreover, vitamin K in the extract supports the skin by keeping blood vessels elastic and helps treat rosacea and stretch marks. It also helps to reduce varicose veins (x).
Side Effects of Tart Cherry Extract
Some side effects include stomach pain and diarrhea. If you are pregnant or nursing, it is best to stay on the safe side and avoid the supplement. Speak to a doctor before adding any new supplement to your regimen.
Tart Cherry Extract Dosage
The recommended dosage of tart cherry extract is 2,500 mg, daily. Of course, this may vary depending on your health status. Speak with a doctor about the optimal dosage. If he or she suggests a different dosage, it is best to follow their instructions.
The Bottom Line
Tart cherries are beneficial to your health in many ways, and its benefits are plentiful. They support the immune system and the heart. Of course, the antioxidants in the extract protect not only the heart, but also the brain, skin, eyes and muscles. Tart cherry juice can aid in recovery after a hard workout. Sour cherries also contain melatonin, which promotes better sleep and eye health and have compounds that protect against certain kinds of cancer. The extract is available in powder form or as a juice and the recommended dosage of tart cherry extract is 2,500 mg daily.