Tart Cherry Juice: Is It Good for You?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on January 05, 2024
5 min read

Tart cherry juice is extracted from Montmorency cherries, also known as sour cherries. Tart cherries are a rich source of antioxidants. Recent medical research has suggested that they offer a range of health benefits, from exercise recovery to better sleep. Although more research is needed, tart cherry juice appears to improve overall health by reducing inflammation in the body.

Tart cherries vs. sweet cherries

Sweet cherries taste great when eaten raw. Tart cherries are more commonly dried, pressed into juice, frozen, or canned to be used for fillings in dishes like pies. 

Both tart and sweet cherries have high amounts of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that include anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acid, and flavanols. Each type of cherry has different levels of these antioxidants. Anthocyanins, for example, give cherries their red color, and they also provide anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Tart cherry juice concentrate

Tart cherry juice concentrate has some or all of its water content evaporated. To drink it, you'll need to mix tart cherry juice concentrate with water first, usually 1 ounce of concentrate with 7 ounces of water for a single serving. Follow directions on the container to mix it for the best taste.

One cup of tart cherry juice contains:

  • Calories: 159
  • Protein: 0.8 gram
  • Fat: 1.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 36.9 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 32.8 grams

Tart cherry juice is a good source of:

Tart cherry juice is also an excellent source of potassium. Studies have shown that potassium may help keep blood pressure in a healthy range and reduce the risk of stroke.

Tart cherry juice is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. But the same thing that makes it so potent can also create problems for people with certain medical conditions.

Research has found a number of potential health benefits of drinking tart cherry juice:

Anti-inflammatory effects

Tart cherry juice contains anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory compounds that may help to combat some chronic diseases. In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, tart cherry juice significantly reduced signs of inflammation that are common in chronic diseases.

These anti-inflammatory properties may provide needed relief for people with arthritis. Studies show that tart cherries can help reduce the pain and stiffness that come with arthritis and other joint pain disorders.

Exercise recovery and performance

Several studies have shown that tart cherry juice can aid significantly in exercise recovery and muscle pain after exercise. In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, college athletes had less muscle pain and strength loss after exertion when drinking tart cherry juice twice a day for 8 days. (In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, people are divided into groups by chance. One of the groups gets the treatment being studied, and another gets a dummy treatment, or placebo.)

In addition to helping aid recovery, tart cherry juice can also improve athletic performance. Research shows that it may enhance endurance exercise performance due to its low glycemic index (causes a small, slow increase in blood sugar levels), anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative capacity (disease fighting), as well as blood flow-enhancing effects.

Tart cherry juice and  sleep

If you have insomnia, tart cherry juice may help you get a better night’s rest. Research shows that tart cherry juice increases sleep time and sleep efficiency for people with insomnia. This may be because the juice helps tryptophan enter your bloodstream and increases your body’s production of melatonin.

Antioxidant properties and brain health

Tart cherry juice may help improve the oxidative stress on the body from aging. Studies in older adults show that tart cherry juice improves antioxidant defenses and reduces oxidative damage. Another randomized, controlled trial showed that it may improve mental skills in older adults due to its antioxidant properties.

For gout

Gout is an inflammatory arthritis caused by too much uric acid in your body. Multiple studies have shown that people who consumed tart cherries and cherry juice on a regular basis reported fewer gout flare-ups than those who didn't eat cherry products. While more research is required with a wider range of people, there is evidence that putting cherries into your diet can help reduce uric acid in your body. 

Immune health

Drinking tart cherry juice can also help strengthen your immune system. When you eat cherries, you benefit from antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

When is the best time to have tart cherry juice?

While you can drink the juice any time of the day, you may want to pick the timing based on the benefits you seek. 

  • If you want to recover from a workout, take it after you exercise. 
  • If you want to see if tart cherry juice helps you sleep better, take it at night, at least an hour before going to bed. 

Because tart cherry juice has such potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement. Consider the following before drinking tart cherry juice:

Sugar content

Tart cherry juice contains sugar, and some brands may contain added sugars. If you have diabetes or another condition that affects blood sugar, you should speak to your doctor before adding tart cherry juice to your diet. 

Sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol found in tart cherry juice, can also cause belly pain and diarrhea for some people. 

You can still reap the benefits of tart cherry through capsule supplements if drinking the juice is not recommended for you.

Medication interactions

Tart cherry juice may interact with some medications. Examples include:

  • Medications used to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Blood thinners
  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids (a type of anti-inflammatory drug)

Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about medication interactions with tart cherry juice.

A typical serving size of tart cherry juice is 8 ounces. 

If you're exercising and lifting weights, research has explored how drinking 10-12 ounces of the juice twice daily might reduce muscle pain and damage. Still, talk to your doctor to make sure this serving amount doesn't cause negative effects to your health. 

Tart cherry juice can be found at most grocery stores. 

How much does tart cherry juice cost?

You can expect to spend around $6 for a 32-ounce bottle of tart cherry juice.