Tart Fruit, Sweet Findings

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The juice concentrate from tart cherries may boost athletic performance and assist with post-workout recovery, according to a recently published study in the scientific journal Nutrients.


Previous research in resistance and aerobically trained individuals found the use of powdered cherry skin extracts improves:

  • athletic performance
  • attenuates muscle soreness and markers of muscle catabolism
  • reduces strength decrement and immune/inflammatory stress, and
  • assists with redox (antioxidant) balance


In this most recent investigation, researchers set out to observe the effects of tart cherry on prolonged, intermittent exercise in sixteen semi-professional soccer players.


Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 12.39.56 AMUsing a double-blind, placebo-controlled study design, the participants were divided into two groups and given either tart cherry concentrate (TCC) or placebo for eight consecutive days. On the fifth day, the players were subjected to a modified version of The Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST), which induces a heavy stress response and closely simulates the physiological & metabolic demands of the sport.


The soccer players in this study consumed approximately 1 fluid ounce (30 mL) of tart cherry concentrate diluted in about 3.4 fl. oz. (100 mL) of water twice a day throughout the study period.


Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.48.25 AMSeveral measures of performance and exercise-induced damage including muscle soreness (DOMS), max voluntary isometric contraction, interleukin-6, and creatine kinase were analyzed at baseline and for 72 hours post-exercise.


Performance indices in the group taking the TCC not only rebounded faster, they reported less muscle soreness. The tart cherry also appeared to diminish the acute inflammatory (interleukin-6) response to the strenuous LIST.


High levels of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical within tart cherries, have been shown to act as a natural COX inhibitor are widely believed to be responsible for the health and performance benefits observed in people that consume them.

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While this particular study was focused on soccer players, the authors suggest that the findings are applicable to any sport involving prolonged periods of intermittent activity such as rugby, hockey, football, or lacrosse.





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