(Family Features) Warm weather means the start of training season for many people – whether that’s preparing for a race or simply beginning a routine of regular biking or swimming. One food that many athletes are adding to their training regimen is tart cherries.
“Studies suggest tart cherry juice may help athletes reduce muscle pain after intense exercise,” said registered dietitian and sports nutritionist Mitzi Dulan. “I like to recommend tart cherry juice to the athletes I work with because it can help them in the recovery process, but everyone can benefit by enjoying these tasty, tart-sweet fruits more often.”
Tart cherries, specifically the Montmorency variety, contain anthocyanins that have been found to help reduce inflammation. One recent study found that experienced runners (ages 26 – 44) who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice before and after a long-distance race experienced a faster recovery of strength and less muscle pain compared to those who drank a different beverage.
Most of the exercise recovery studies have provided participants with two 8-ounce servings of tart cherry juice a day, which is the equivalent of nearly 100 Montmorency tart cherries. Here some of Mitzi’s tips for enjoying the benefits of tart cherries:
- Revitalizer Smoothie: Blend frozen tart cherries, tart cherry juice, coconut water and a splash of vanilla extract for a post-workout smoothie.
- Hit the Trails: Try an easy, do-it-yourself trail mix using dried cherries, almonds, pistachios and whole-grain cereal.
- Give it a shot: Look for tart cherry juice concentrate in your local supermarket, or buy it online. You can mix it with water or drink it straight as a shot.
- Real-Food Fuel: Make your own energy gels or sports chews by mixing tart cherry juice, unflavored gelatin and honey.
 Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chestnutt J. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J. Int. Soc. Sports. Nutr. 2010;7:17-22.
 Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports. 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52.
Recipe: Tart Cherry Recovery Chews
- 1 1/4 cups tart cherry juice
- 1/4 cup unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup honey
- In a small bowl, stir together the juice and the gelatin until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan on low-medium heat and add the honey. Continue stirring until well mixed but making sure not to boil. Remove from heat, allowing it to slightly cool before pouring into a rectangular hard candy sheet mold (use a sheet mold tray with 64 molds of 3/4" x 1"). Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes or until it begins to gel before transferring into the refrigerator. Place in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to allow it to set.
128 individual chews