Why Tart Cherry Juice Is Such an Underrated Performance Supplement

It doesn't taste like candy. That's how we know we can trust it.

Three tart cherry juice products from Cheribundi.
We know how difficult it is to sort through the muck of wellness "silver bullets" these days — but this stuff works.

In my years of testing an array of smoothies, supplements and “performance shots,” I’ve learned that if something tastes really good, it probably isn’t that good for you.

Cheribundi‘s tart cherry juice tastes…effective. And that’s okay. If Cheribundi tasted like Gatorade, it would likely be packed with added sugars, preservatives and unnatural food dyes, which it isn’t. For almost 20 years, the brand has been fine-tuning one of the most underrated nutritional aids out there, a juice that works wonders in the realms of athletic performance, immune support and quality sleep.

Not that tart cherry juice is a total secret — over 375 professional and collegiate sports teams now include Cheribundi in their training regimens. Olympic athletes have publicly talked about using tart cherry products in the run-up to the last two Summer Games. But it’s totally understandable, amidst the clutter of GNC aisles and Instagram ads, why you may have never gotten around to testing it out yourself.

From an elementary, nutritional perspective, tart cherry juice checks an impressive number of boxes.A customary eight-ounce serving is a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc. Oh, and they even offer a juice with those all-important B vitamins blended in to support your immune system.

What does these vitamins and minerals accomplish in the body? A little bit of everything. Tart cherry juice is a jack of all trades. A litany of studies have linked tart cherry juice consumption with a reduced risk of arthritis, gout, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, nerve damage, high blood pressure and obesity. Take note: not all of the studies surrounding tart cherry juice have involved humans, but surprisingly, most of them have, and have produced compelling results.

While it’s difficult for us to contextualize seemingly far-off illnesses like arthritis and Alzheimer’s, most of us look to get through each week with good exercise, good sleep and good health. In that case, tart cherry juice is a short-term play, too. That’s also where the studies are the most convincing, as the data’s easier to come by.

On exercise: the juice appears to have an impact on muscle recovery, both tampering pain and soreness, while strengthening muscle retention. (This according to analyses of both marathon runners and weightlifters.) On sleep: tart cherries are chock-full of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and contain compounds that help the body make more of it. In other words, an insomniac’s godsend. And on health: simply put, packing that many antioxidants into a couple sips is always going to give the upper respiratory tract a well-timed boost.

It’s tempting, whenever we read about a superfood — or in this case, a superfruit — to anoint it a silver bullet, and convince ourselves that it’s the sole answer to our dietary desires. But you shouldn’t start brewing a vat of tart cherry punch each day. You should just consider using it as a complement to a variety of other healthy decisions. It’ll most easily work its magic if it isn’t fighting a baseline of burgers, benders and bad sleep.

Of course, scientific studies also recommend that you drink tart cherry juice to the tune of eight ounces per day (and 16 ounces per day if you’re training for a big race). That isn’t cheap; a 24-pack of eight-ounce bottles is $58. But if you’re going to ride the tart train, you should certainly do so with Cheribundi. They have the purest tart cherry juice out there — their primary product is, in fact, called “Pure” — thanks to a proprietary filtration process designed by Cornell University scientists, which bests the juices of other buzzy, high-nutrient fruits, like blueberries, blackberries and elderberries.

A couple things to keep in mind: while Cheribundi doesn’t add sugar to its juices, tart cherries are naturally high in them anyway, and if you’re diabetic, you should probably stay away. The absurd potency of consuming 120 cherries in a sitting (a 16-ounce serving) could also interfere with specific forms of medication, so let your doctor know before you start chugging. Not to mention: drinking that much fruit takes a bit of time for the stomach to get used to. Maybe sample on your own time, as I thankfully discovered on a WFH day.

That said, I also discovered, however anecdotally, that the rumors are true; tart cherry juice, of all things, really does hate muscle soreness and poor sleep. It hates sickness, too. I’ve had a fever the past few days, and have been diligently tossing back Cheribundi’s “Immune” cocktail, which includes a healthy serving of Vitamin C. I texted a friend the other day that I was at a 2/10. Today I’m feeling like a 7.

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