In addition to sweet cherries, tart or sour cherries (also called pie cherries) are the other very popular cherry variety. They are both healthy and taste great. Tart cherries are slightly smaller and brighter than the sweet cherries.
Sweet cherries have more sugar and their glycemic index is slightly higher, which makes them a slightly less healthy choice for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. In contrast, the tart cherries have less calories and a slightly lower glycemic index.
Their region of origin is Southeastern Europe, but they are one of the most popular and sought-after type of fruit in America. Generally harvested in June and July for maximum concentration of tartness, they can also be found frozen, canned, dried and as a delicious juice.
Whenever you can buy and eat them fresh, that’s the best possible choice. If you find them fresh, you can prepare a cold pressed juice, or you can buy an already prepared one.
Sour cherries won’t stay fresh after picking up for too long. That’s why they are hard to find in a grocery store in their fresh form.
As far as the glycemic index is concerned, cherries are somewhere at 22 (which is quite low), and tart cherries should have even lower values of their glycemic index. The glycemic load of sweet cherries is around 9 (which is not that low when compared to some other low-sugar fruits), and tart cherries have 6 (which is much better).
In any case, you can be sure that sour cherries won’t cause rapid spikes of blood glucose, which is one of the foundations of healthy nutrition. However, you should still be careful if you are making juice. Juices lack the fiber content that acts as a buffer preventing the sharp release of sugars from the fruit into the bloodstream.
Probably the main medicinal value tart cherries derive from biologically active compounds called anthocyanins. These flavonoids give the cherries their characteristic vivid color, delicious flavor, and antioxidant properties. The presence of anthocyanins in tart cherries is larger than in any other fruit. They are actually in charge for many of the tart cherries’ benefits and are proven to be protective against a myriad of human diseases.
When you drink tart cherry juice, it is likely that you’ll get more of these bio-active compounds in a concentrated, bio-available form.
While fruits are usually detrimental for the uric acid levels in the blood, that’s NOT the case with sour cherries. They are proven to lower the uric acid in the blood and by that help prevent gout.
The other useful compounds are gallic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin.
Even if it had no antioxidants and no nutrients, tart cherry juice is so tart and refreshing that you should use it to replace all types of sodas or sports drinks you might consider drinking. Not to mention, that this juice really makes a huge difference to your health.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tart Cherry Nutrition Content
- 2 The Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice
- 3 Cold Pressed Tart Chery Juice
- 4 Concerns
- 5 Q&A
- 6 Is Tart Cherry Juice Acidic?
- 7 It Tart Cherry Juice a Blood Thinner?
- 8 Is Tart Cherry Juice a Sleep Aid?
- 9 How Much Tart Cherry Juice is Enough?
- 10 Can Tart Cherry Juice Cause Diarrhea?
- 11 Conclusion
- 12 Related Posts
Tart Cherry Nutrition Content
The nutrition facts presented below are given per 3.5 ounces of raw tart cherries.
The varieties of tart cherries grown in America contain from 80 to 110 nanograms of melatonin per cherry. Given the amount of melatonin circulating in our blood, this is a considerable amount.
As for the antioxidant capacity, which is usually measured in ORAC units, 3.5 ounces of tart cherry juice scores 12,800 ORAC. While still not enough to put them on the top of the list of best antioxidant foods, this is way more than the daily recommended amount of antioxidant protection.
The Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice
- Anti-cancer Properties: The anthocyanins, along with the quercetin and ellagic acid, are the main active compounds responsible for the anti-cancer properties. They trigger cancer cells apoptosis and inhibit blood vessel formation around cancerous tumors. The melatonin content in sour cherries may also help prevent breast cancer.
- Anti-aging Properties: Because of their ability to diminish oxidative stress, the flavonoids help slow down aging.
- It Can Improve Cardiovascular Health: Tart Cherry Juice lowers triglycerides and cholesterol, and do that without the adverse effects of statins.
- It Can Boost the Performance of Your Brain: Tart cherries and their juice may be good for the brain, a research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, reports. Again, the benefits have to do with elevated levels of anthocyanins and other antioxidants in tart cherries when compared with sweet cherries. In addition to slowing down degenerative brain health conditions, there are indications that tart cherry extract can improve cognitive performance, for example, in cognitive tests.
- Anti-inflammatory Properties: There is research that compares the health benefits of tart cherry juice to anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. Tart cherries lower the bio-markers for inflammation in the entire body. Whenever you can find a natural alternative to pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs it is a win-win situation for your body. Because, chronic inflammation can run without control in your body, and can lead to obesity and increased risk of a number of serious health conditions. Consuming home made tart cherry juice in particular affect the most important bio markers for inflammation, CRPs, the C reactive proteins. For example, women with inflammatory osteoarthritis have reduced their biological markers upon consuming tart cherry juice. Tart cherry juice will help, but you also have to drastically reduce or eliminate the pro-inflammatory foods from your diet, like for instance the sugar.
- It Can Improve sleep: Melatonin in tart cherries is the substance that relaxes the body and improves sleep by properly regulating the circadian rhythm of the body. A study reports that consuming tart cherry juice daily can lead to more than one hour extension of sleep every night. Tart cherries seem to contain a compound called tryptophan, which is an amino acid that our body uses to synthesize melatonin.
- It Can Improve Recovery from Workout: The potassium content in this type of juice helps post workout recovery, digestion, and hydration, and balances the pH levels in the body.
- It Can Help Weight Loss: In animal studies tart cherries seem to help push the body’s metabolism toward losing abdominal fat and improving the metabolic syndrome. The main player, again, are the anthocyanins.
- It can be a treatment for peripheral neuropathy: The bio-flavonoids in this juice are believed to be responsible for improving the condition of peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetes.
Cold Pressed Tart Chery Juice
Some people find the taste of this juice too strong. If that’s the case, combine them with strawberries, blueberries, or peaches. If the sour cherries are fresh, you would need about 25-30 ounces to make one cup of cherry juice.
For maximum health benefit, choose organic tart cherries. If you need to sweeten them, add some honey. If the taste is too strong and you don’t want to combine them with other fruits, add some coconut or almond milk, or simply dilute them with pure clean water.
The most important think you should be careful about is the fructose content. Fructose can be harmful if you consume excessive amounts of it.
Before you jump to drinking tart cherry juice in huge amounts, you should know that eight ounces of this juice contain about 140 calories and 25 grams of total sugar (a part of which is fructose).
Is Tart Cherry Juice Acidic?
Yes. While sweet cherries are lower in acid content, sour cherries are more acidic, which is normal because of their tart flavor.
It Tart Cherry Juice a Blood Thinner?
There is no research linking tart cherries with blood thinning. As they are low in vitamin K, they shouldn’t be a huge issue when using blood thinning medications.
Is Tart Cherry Juice a Sleep Aid?
It appears so, at least based on the few available studies. Because of its melatonin content, tart cherry juice aids sleep and provide some relief of insomnia.
How Much Tart Cherry Juice is Enough?
Not too much, as you wouldn’t want to consume too much sugar (and especially not fructose). Probably 8 ounces of tart cherry juice is the right measure, or twice that much if your diet is low-carb or if you don’t consume other fruits during the day.
Can Tart Cherry Juice Cause Diarrhea?
A possible side-effects of this juice is abdominal discomfort, accompanied with diarrhea. This undesirable effect is blamed on the tart cherry’s sorbitol content. Sorbitol is a sweet-tasting compound often found in fruits (actually a fruit alcohol).
Anthocyanin, the powerful bio-active compound in sour cherries, is responsible for the numerous health benefits for the body. It reduces inflammation, helps alleviate gout, prevents stroke and heart attack, and is good for people with type 2 diabetes.
Freeze some tart cherries during summer to have them ready in winter. Even though frozen they lose almost none of their nutritional properties.
Tart cherry juice should certainly be on your favorite list of juices, or even better, use them whole whenever you can. With the variety of nutrients they offer, tart cherries are also relatively low in calories. If you cannot prepare your own home made juice, you can look for some commercial brands without any added sugar.
Photo 3 courtesy of urbanizr 77