Cherry juice is a popular drink with links to several health benefits, including boosting the immune system, improving memory, and aiding sleep. However, few scientific studies back up these claims.
There are different varieties of cherry, but manufacturers typically make cherry juice using a tart or sour variety such as Montmorency, or sweeter black cherries. Black cherries contain more sugar and more carbohydrates. The nutritional content of the two types is otherwise similar.
A 1-cup serving of unsweetened tart cherry juice typically contains:
- 159 calories
- 33 grams of sugars
- naturally occurring sugars
- traces of some minerals, such as calcium and potassium
- almost no vitamins
- almost no fat
Some claim that drinking cherry juice can help people sleep better, give the immune system a boost, and help people recover after a workout.
Dark red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins.
These are pigments that give these fruits and vegetables their color. Cherries contain anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins have potential health benefits, but a lot more research is needed to determine whether they are good for health.
Read on for more information about some of the alleged health benefits of drinking cherry juice.
Gout is a type of arthritis that usually affects one joint at a time. It causes pain, swelling, and redness. A person may sometimes have flares, which is when they experience worsened symptoms, and remission, which is when their symptoms are mild or totally absent.
One 2012 study looked at 633 people with gout and revealed that those who ate cherries or cherry extract had a lower risk of repeated gout attacks. The researchers thought that this could be due to the anthocyanins in the fruit.
Anthocyanins are antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that may be able to stop or slow down some types of damage to cells. Particles called free radicals cause this damage.
The creation of free radicals occurs when a person eats or exercises. They can come from the environment, including as a result of air pollution. Free radicals trigger cell damage, which is a risk factor for diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, and a healthful diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables. However, there is no proven link between antioxidants and disease prevention.
Anthocyanins from natural sources may have antimicrobial properties. This means that they can kill small organisms called microbes, such as bacteria that cause disease.
Some research has suggested that the anthocyanins in cherries could help fight bacteria. This could help support the immune system by fighting off minor illnesses such as colds.
More research is necessary to determine whether or not anthocyanins in cherry juice may benefit the immune system.
Anthocyanins similar to those present in cherries may benefit people who have glaucoma. Glaucoma is a buildup of fluid pressure inside the eye that can cause vision loss.
Some research looked at people who had received treatment with anthocyanins for glaucoma. Some people showed improvement in their vision after this treatment.
Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. One method that healthcare professionals use to test stiffness, pain, and a range of physical movements is called the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis (WOMAC) index.
A small 2013 study found slightly improved WOMAC scores for people who had consumed cherry juice for the 6 weeks of the study. This was in comparison with receiving a placebo, but the difference was not significant. It is important to note that a corporation that makes and sells cherry juice funded this research.
After a significant amount of exercise, some people experience inflammation in their airways.
A small study looked at people who had run a marathon. It found that drinking cherry juice helped prevent symptoms of inflammation.
Those who drank cherry juice every day for 12 weeks showed minor improvements in their short-term memory.
For adults who have insomnia, cherry juice may help with quality of sleep and length of sleep time. Cherry juice can raise the amount of melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a molecule that helps maintain normal sleep.
The basis for this theory is a small study that scientists conducted over a short period.
Making cherry juice can be a cheaper, more healthful alternative to buying juice. Like other fruit juices, manufacturers often add sugar or sweeteners to cherry juice.
By following these steps, a person can make cherry juice at home using a food processor:
- Wash and stem fresh cherries.
- Combine 1 cup of cherries with one-quarter of a cup of water, scaling up as needed.
- Blend in a food processor until cherries come just loose from the pits.
- Sieve into a bottle or jar.
- Drink within 5 days.
If buying cherry juice, look for an unsweetened version without any extra additives. Health food stores may be more likely to stock cherry juice without additives.
All fruit juice contains natural sugars. A person should be aware that drinking a lot of fruit juice could add too much sugar to the diet.
Manufacturers often label juice as either from concentrate or not from concentrate. Makers of cherry juice from concentrate will pulp the cherries and remove the water. They then usually freeze the juice for transportation, then put the water back in before the juice becomes commercially available.
They may sometimes add sugar or sweeteners to the water, which can make it a less healthful choice. This is not always the case, however. Juice from concentrate with no added sugar is no less healthful than juice that is not from concentrate.
Much more research is necessary to draw firm conclusions about the possible benefits of cherry juice. Currently, there is not enough evidence to suggest that cherry juice has any significant benefits to health.
As part of a balanced diet, drinking cherry juice can be a good way to include a portion of fruit. Making it at home or choosing an option without added sugar is a healthful choice.