Marathoners, weekend warriors, and even exercise newbies are “rushing to the red” for extraordinary muscle recovery. 

Active Americans have caught on to nature’s secret tonic that is delivering muscle recovery big time! What is this scarlet-colored potion that has athletes buzzing? It is tart cherry juice or tart cherry juice concentrate. The recovery secret lies in its exceedingly high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are vitamins and phytonutrients that help repair the body from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. Tart cherries are exceptional, hosting an ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) value of 12,000-12,500. An ORAC scale is used to test and compare the antioxidant levels of foods. Tart cherries far exceed that of blueberries with an ORAC of 2,400 and raspberries with an ORAC of 1,220. Clearly, tart cherries are antioxidant chart toppers!

cherryrecipe5Since exercise actually tears down muscle fibers, resulting in post-exercise muscle soreness, it is important to have a post-exercise recovery regimen. Supplying the body with antioxidants is perhaps the best way to help speed the recovery and repair of muscle tissue. Tart cherry juice is especially beneficial because its vibrant red color is indicative of a certain type of antioxidant, anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help the body resist oxidative stress and provide natural anti-inflammatory properties. Runners everywhere are catching on to these unique benefits. A study published in the December 2010 issue of “Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports” reported that long distance runners discovered “daily consumption of tart cherry juice concentrate for 5 days before, during, and two days following a marathon resulted in improved strength, decreased inflammation, decreased levels of oxidized lipids and reduced recovery time. “

If these benefits are not enough to motivate you to sip a glass of tart cherry juice, melatonin may be the cherry on top.  This valuable brain hormone effectively promotes a better night’s rest, which is ultimately the best time for the body to repair and recover. The manifold benefits of tart cherry juice are just too good to pass up. Tart cherries are an antioxidant powerhouse that can help you rest, recover and rebuild a stronger, healthier body—go get some of the red! ν

Where to find tart cherry juice?

Since growing in popularity, tart cherry juice is becoming more and more available. It may be available at your local grocer, but if it is not, you can certainly buy it online. I like Stanton Orchards because they are located in the United States in Montgomery, Michigan. Their juice is never pasteurized, gluten-free, non-GMO, allergen-free, cross contamination free, and FDA compliant.

How to use tart cherry juice concentrate?

Since the juice concentrate is highly concentrated, you will need to dilute it. Typically, one ounce of cherry juice to seven ounces of water will make a nice glass of cherry juice. You can get creative by mixing it in with fresh squeezed apple juice or lemonade to make a refreshing glass of cherry lemonade.

By Christina Leidenheimer, CPT, CHLC, CPI

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