Tart cherry juice is somewhat of an up-and-comer in the supplement world. Over the last few years there's growing interest and support for the effectiveness of tart cherry juice. How effective is it and can too much of a good thing become a bad thing?
- What did they test? Researchers compared tart cherry juice to a placebo on a number of performance and recovery variables including blood biomarkers to assess inflammation and muscle damage.
- What did they find? Tart cherry juice accelerated recovery more effectively than the placebo treatment.
- What does it mean for you? Tart cherry juice's antioxidant properties provide appealing benefits for recovery.
What’s the Problem?
During exercise our cells produce free radicals from the increase utilization of oxygen for cellular metabolism. This leads to accumulation of oxidants called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Like most things in life, moderation is key. Too much of a good thing can sometimes become a bad thing. Same goes for ROS. A certain amount is beneficial, but too much can lead to what's called oxidative stress. Jones (2006, as cited in 2) redefined oxidative stress as "an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in favor of the oxidants, leading to a disruption of redox signaling and control, and/or molecular damage". Oxidative stress can become a damaging process to all cell structures, leading to the development of a number of chronic diseases 3. Antioxidants can protect against oxidative stress by acting as ROS scavengers 3. Antioxidants, as the name implies, are substances that significantly delay or prevent oxidation of a substrate, providing the ability to balance high levels of oxidants and prevent oxidative stress 2. Antioxidants can be classified into a number of types and families. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that possess the radical scavenging properties for oxidants 4. Polyphenols are produced as secondary metabolites within plants and classified into different families based on their chemical make-up 4. Anthocyanidins are a family of polyphenols found in cherries and berries that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties 4. It can get confusing with the different names and sub-classes of antioxidant compounds. The important thing to remember is these compounds are found within cherries, berries, and other plant-based foods and they inhibit oxidation of other molecules. Over the last few years tart cherry juice (TCJ) has been investigated to determine its effectiveness for improving recovery from exercise due to its anthocyanidins content.
TCJ is derived from Montmorency Cherries and is available in the form of powder or liquid. While there isn't as much supportive evidence as other supplements like creatine, there is growing interest in its recovery benefits. Some studies show TCJ is more effective at improved recovery and markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein; CRP) when compared to a placebo 5 6. However, some studies show no benefits of TCJ on performance, markers of inflammation or markers of muscle damage (creatine kinase; CK) 5 7. The study we review here is interesting because it evaluated a number of performance and recovery variables in athletes consuming a typical diet.
The purpose was to investigate how TCJ influences recovery in athletes following a traditional diet after intermittent exercise.
Authors hypothesized that consumption of TCJ for 5 days prior, day of, and 2 days after a LIST test would improve markers of muscle damage and inflammation, as well as facilitate the return of functional performance during the 48 hr recovery period