Cherry Juice Helps Endurance Athletes

Tart cherry juice reduces inflammation and post-exercise pain in long-distance runners claims a recent study. This finding supports other recent research which has claimed numerous potential benefits in consuming tart cherries.

Cherries are naturally loaded with antioxidant compounds known as anthocyanins. Antioxidants, in general, are known to help reduce inflammation and free radical buildup, and for this reason have been suggested to help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and potentially other conditions as well. Tart cherries can be purchased in juice, dried and fresh, forms.

60 adults between 18-50 years of age, all in the process of training for long-distance runs, were split into two groups in the study. One group stuck to their normal training regiments, including nutrition and sports drinks, and the other group consumed 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juice, twice daily, for seven days (the last day being the day of their run). Cherry juice drinkers reported approximately 20% less pain than non-cherry juice drinkers following the race.

It’s known that in many endurance sports, inflammation can result, causing pain and damage to muscles. For this reason, many endurance athletes take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which often have side effects. Says lead investigator Dr. Kerry Kuehl, “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.” While the above research is not definitive, because of the known strong antioxidant properties of tart cherries, the suggestion of the researchers that cherry juice reduces inflammation, and therefore pain, seems sound, and warrants further investigation.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Kuehl, Kerry. Solway, Caitlin. Weber Shandwick Worldwide news release. May 2009.