Cherry Juice Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Cherry juice, close-up
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Cherry juice, particularly tart cherry juice, has gained popularity in recent years, with many people hoping to gain substantial health benefits from drinking it. Different ingredients might be used to make the cherry juice that you find on supermarket shelves. You may find 100% cherry juice, but some brands also include sweeteners or blend cherry juice with other juices (such as apple juice or grape juice) to make the product. Others are made with cherry juice concentrate and water.

Cherry juice may provide some of the health benefits that cherries provide, but the juice does not provide any fiber and is likely to be higher in sugar because it is concentrated or combined with other ingredients. If you enjoy juice in moderation, cherry juice can be included in a nutritious eating plan.

Cherry Juice Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a single one-cup serving (269 grams) of tart cherry juice.

  • Calories: 159
  • Fat: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 10.8mg
  • Carbohydrates: 36.9g
  • Sugars: 32.8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0.8g

Carbs

A one-cup serving of tart cherry juice contains about 159 calories. Most of the calories are carbohydrates. There are 36.9 grams of carbs in the juice, 32.8 grams of sugar, and no fiber.

The glycemic index of cherry juice has not been recorded, but the glycemic index database of the University of Sydney lists the glycemic index of cherry and apple juice at 43. Foods or beverages with a glycemic index of 55 or less are considered low-glycemic foods.

Fats

There is very little fat in a serving of cherry juice. A cup provides 1.5 grams of fat.

Protein

Tart cherry juice provides a very small amount of protein, about 0.8 grams per serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Cherry juice contains 1.13mg of iron, about 6% to 14% of the daily value depending on your age and sex. It also contains 0.16mg of thiamin, about 13% to 14.5% of the daily value depending on your age and sex. Cherry juice also provides small amounts of vitamin B6, manganese, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Health Benefits

There are several health benefits associated with tart cherry juice. Most of it is related to its anti-inflammatory potential. Research is ongoing to understand the different ways that cherries, cherry juice, and other forms of cherry might affect the body.

Improved Muscle Recovery

A few studies on runners have suggested that the consumption of cherry juice before, during, and after running may help reduce muscle damage and speed recovery.

One study involved 54 healthy runners who consumed either a 355-milliliter bottle of tart cherry juice or a placebo cherry drink twice daily for seven days prior to a running event and on the day of the race. After the event, both groups reported increased pain but the cherry juice group reported a significantly lower level of pain.

In another smaller study, 20 recreational marathon runners drank either cherry juice or a placebo in the five days 5 days before, during, and for 48 hours after running a marathon. Several different muscle damage markers were measured in both groups. Isometric strength recovered faster in the cherry juice group and inflammation was also lower in that group.

Researchers who conducted the small 2010 study concluded that "cherry juice appears to provide a viable means to aid recovery following strenuous exercise by increasing total antioxidative capacity, reducing inflammation, lipid peroxidation and so aiding in the recovery of muscle function."

There have also been a few small studies suggesting that a tart cherry powder made from Montmorency cherries may be as effective as tart cherry juice to reduce inflammation, muscle damage, and muscle soreness following resistance training. 

Reduced Inflammation

Several studies have suggested that the consumption of tart cherry juice may help reduce inflammation and improve antioxidant defenses, especially in older adults. Cherries are known to contain anthocyanins which act as antioxidants and help to fight inflammation and repair oxidative damage. Products such as cherry juice and cherry powder supplements are also believed to provide these benefits.

A small study published in 2019 investigated the role of tart cherry juice on markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in 37 men and women between the ages of 65–80. Study participants drank either tart cherry juice (480 milliliters) or a control drink every day for 12 weeks. Researchers found that those who consumed the tart cherry juice showed improvement in several biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress.

May Improve Heart Health

Researchers are studying the ability of tart cherry juice to reduce systolic blood pressure and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The researchers who conducted the 2019 study (mentioned above) conducted another study to understand how cherry juice affects blood pressure and cholesterol. Again, the study was relatively small involving 17 men and 20 women between the ages of 65-80 years. Study participants drank either tart cherry juice (480 milliliters) or a control drink every day for 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, the cherry juice group showed lower levels of systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Study authors believe that the heart-health benefits may be due to the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cherry juice, but they note that larger and longer follow-up studies are needed to confirm these findings.

It should be noted that not all studies investigating the relationship between heart health and cherry juice have found a benefit. Another study involved 47 healthy adults aged 30-50 years-old who consumed cherry juice concentrate for six weeks.

At the end of the study, researchers found no improvement in arterial stiffness, C-reactive protein, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Study authors concluded that the juice provided no benefit regarding risk markers for cardiovascular disease, but did provide a minor increase in antioxidant status.

Better Sleep

There are many anecdotal reports of people getting a better night's rest after consuming tart cherry juice. Tart cherries are known to contain a relatively high content of melatonin, a substance with sleep-regulating properties.

Authors of a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food investigated how cherry juice might improve the sleep of older adults. Researchers used a proprietary tart cherry juice blend and compared it to a placebo in a group of 19 participants aged 65 or older who complained of sleep problems. Results showed that the cherry juice provided reduced the severity of insomnia, but did not improve sleep latency, total sleep time, or sleep efficiency compared to placebo.

However, another study involved 20 participants who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for seven days. Study authors found that (exogenous) melatonin levels increased and that those levels may be helpful in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and may be helpful for those with disturbed sleep patterns.

Treatment for Gout

Gout is an inflammatory condition that affects 8.3 million people in the United States. The condition occurs when there is a build-up of uric acid in the body and deposits of uric acid crystals occur in joints and tissues of the body. Your risk for gout increases with age. You are also at higher risk if you are overweight or obese.

There is some evidence that consuming pure tart cherry juice may be able to reduce serum urate levels in overweight and obese adults. A study conducted in 2019 found that when 26 overweight or obese men and women consumed 240 milliliters of tart cherry juice every day for four weeks they showed improvement in uric acid levels when compared with placebo.

A research review published in 2019 also evaluated the relationship between cherries and reduced uric acid levels in the treatment of gout. Study authors concluded that there was evidence supporting an association between cherry intake and a reduced risk of gout attacks. They also noted, however, that there was a lack of relevant studies and that the study methods varied widely. For these reasons, they suggested that much more research is needed.

Allergies

People with pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS) also known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS) should avoid cherry juice as cherries are a common trigger. Specifically, those with birch pollen allergies are often triggered by cherries, apples, almonds, carrots, celery, hazelnuts, kiwis, peaches, pears, and plums. Symptoms may include an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat. Itchy ears and hives on the mouth are also possible.

Also, keep in mind that many cherry juice products contain ingredients other than cherry juice. Always read the ingredients list carefully if you have any food allergies.

Adverse Effects

Tart cherry juice is likely safe for most people. If you are watching your sugar intake, be sure to read ingredient labels as sugar may be added to many products.

There is some concern that eating cherry pits can cause harm. Cherry pits contain amygdalin— which is converted to cyanide in the body. The amount of amygdalin in cherries can vary widely. But according to government poison control experts, small unintentional ingestions of cherry pits generally do not cause harm. They advise however that swallowing, crushing, or chewing the seeds should be avoided.

Many home recipes for cherry juice involve throwing whole cherries into a blender which may lead to some parts of the pit getting into the final juice product. If you make your own juice at home, you may want to choose an alternate method that does not involve putting the pits into a blender.

Varieties

There are many different types of cherries, but cherry juice is usually made from sweet cherries (usually bing cherries) or from tart cherries (usually Montmorency cherries). Especially if the juice is made from the tart variety, it might be blended with apple juice, grape juice, or another product to add sweetness.

Many cherry juice brands make their product from concentrate. That means that all of the water is extracted from the fruit, leaving just a thick syrup. The syrup is cheaper to package and ship making it less expensive for juice makers. Before bottling, water is re-added to the concentrate.

However, some people prefer buying juice "not-from-concentrate" because they prefer food that is less processed. Certain additives (like sugar) may be added to the concentrate to improve flavor or shelf life.

When It’s Best

Cherries are in season during the summer, but cherry juice is widely available year-round in most supermarkets.

Storage and Food Safety

Always look for juice that has been pasteurized. According to the FDA, if the juice has not been pasteurized or otherwise treated it may contain harmful bacteria. If juice has not been treated, the FDA requires that it carry a warning label. However, that rule does not apply when the juice is sold by the glass such as in restaurants, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or juice bars.

Cherry juice manufacturers suggest that you refrigerate juice after it has been opened. Properly refrigerated juice will usually stay fresh for about 9-12 days. You can also freeze cherry juice to keep it for later use.

You can make your own juice at home, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests that you use good food handling practices. These practices include:

  1. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after making the juice.
  2. Washing your cherries under running water without the use of soap, detergent, or a commercial produce wash.
  3. Cutting away any damaged or bruised areas and throwing away cherries that look rotten.
  4. Drying the cherries after washing with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.

How to Prepare

You can make your own cherry juice at home, but it can be somewhat time-consuming depending on the method you choose. But making your own juice allows you to use the cherry variety (or blend of varieties) that you prefer.

Begin by washing and stemming your cherries. You'll need about 1.5 pounds of cherries for each liter of juice. Place the cherries into a deep pot with about 2.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15–20 minutes, then drain using a sieve. Press the fruit to release as much juice as possible.

If you choose to add sugar or other ingredients, return the juice to the pot and reheat before adding them. It may take 10 minutes or more for sugar to dissolve in the juice.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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