Tart cherry (AKA: dwarf cherry, sour cherry, Montmorency cherry) is an increasingly popular food in the USA and Canada.
Many people drink it as a juice, use it in jams, make cherry pies from it, or even take it as a supplement.
Although less sweet that their sweet cherry cousins, tart cherries offer more health benefits. Including better sleep, faster exercise recovery and lower levels of inflammation.
That said, some varieties of tart cherry juice are known for having tons of added sugars, which offsets their positive health effects.
Main Physical Effects
- Improved immunity
- Less muscle pain and soreness
- Better symptoms of arthritis
- Reduced risk of high blood sugar and CVD
Main Cognitive Effects
- Lower levels of stress and anxiety
- Improved sleep
- Improved cognitive functioning
- Brighter mood
Montmorency Tart Cherry Nutritional Facts
Here’s Montmorency tart cherry juice nutrition per 8oz (240ml) serving:
- Calories: 119kcal
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 28 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Vitamin A: 62% RDI
- Vitamin C: 40%RDI
- Manganese: 14% RDI
- Potassium: 12% RDI
- Copper: 12% RDI
- Vitamin K: 7% RDI
You’ll also get some B vitamins from tart cherry juice, along with small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
But perhaps most prized, are tart cherries antioxidants and other polyphenol plant compounds. Which have been shown to offset markers of ageing.
Montmorency tart cherries are 20 times richer in vitamin A and 5 times higher in antioxidants than their sweet cherry cousins.
Tart cherries tend to have brighter red color than sweet cherries, which is one of the ways you can tell them apart.
How Does Montmorency Tart Cherry Work?
Montmorency tart cherry is packed with nutrients that boost your rest and recovery. These nutrients are often found in the best sleep supplements.
High in bioactive phenolic acid, including caffeic acid, ellagic acid and chlorogenic acid, the latter of which helps you stay lean and healthy.
Tart cherries also contain an abundance of flavonoids – including kaempferol, quercetin, epicatechins (same as ones from green tea), procyanidins, isorhamnetin, and catechins.
While many of these compounds aid weight loss, promote vibrant and healthy skin and protect your body from stress. The most beneficial compound in tart cherries is anthocyanin – a molecule that gives cherries their deep red pigment.
- Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which boost muscle recovery, reduce inflammation in joints and other bodily tissues, and help you sleep better.
Cherries such as these contain much higher levels of anthocyanins than other fruits. The best of all, you can gain these benefits by simply eating the fruit, drinking its juice, or taking it in a supplement capsule.
Research shows a strong link between higher anthocyanin intake and increased cell protection in our body and brain.
What’s more, anthocyanins in tart cherries also boost your sleep duration and quality. Coupled with high amounts of l-tryptophan and melatonin (two crucial sleep molecules) in tart cherries, they have a perfect nutritional profile for best sleep supplements.
Why Should You Optimize Your Sleep?
Your quality of sleep is governed by light exposure.
If you’ve ever tried to nap during the day in a brightly lit room, then you know how hard it can be to fall asleep. The light enters the retina in your eye and stimulates the hypothalamus part of your brain which keeps you awake.
Melatonin is your natural sleep hormone – also known as ‘the darkness hormone’ – mainly produced by your pineal gland in the epithalamus part of the brain.
Your pineal gland is mostly inactive during the day, which helps you stay alert. But as night approaches your pineal gland kicks into gear and pumps a nice big dose of melatonin into your blood.
However, your melatonin production will be hindered if you have bright light hitting your face – even at nighttime.
New evidence shows that blocking MT1 melatonin receptors increases wakefulness, but stimulating MT1 boosts deep sleep.
So if you’re the type of person who looks at TV or your smartphone with the lights on, you’re messing with your natural sleep cycle. These devices are known for emitting blue light which further disrupts your melatonin synthesis.
Late night lights leave you feeling wide awake. As melatonin is derived from serotonin brain chemical, it heavily regulates your sleep-wake cycles – supporting a healthy internal clock.
Typically, you’ll see people use melatonin as medication or/and supplement, especially those that suffer from insomnia and ADHD.
However, you may have also noticed a trend of people using melatonin to support their own sleep goals. From busy CEOs to elite athletes, who might have unusually hectic schedules.
Researchers from PLOS conducted as trial in 2018 and reported amazing benefits of melatonin for sleep. Their double-blind, randomized clinical trial gathered adults who suffered from delayed-sleep wake phase disorder. The researchers gave them either 0.5mg of melatonin or placebo every night for 7 days.
The results? Their improved sleep quality was closely related to lower sleep disturbances and sleep-enhancing effects.
Tart Cherries and Melatonin
Tart cherries’ sleep benefits come from melatonin and l-tryptophan. Both compounds are found in high amounts in tart cherries.
Tryptophan is an amino acid building block for the production of serotonin, which later turns to melatonin as you go to sleep.
Melatonin, in turn, helps regulate your circadian rhythm. During the day, your body makes more serotonin to stay awake, but at night it converts it to melatonin to get you to sleep.
Having both melatonin and l-tryptophan, tart cherries boast a perfect nutrient profile for promoting deep quality sleep.
Tart cherry evidence is growing. More and more researchers are discovering that as a superfood, the deep red flesh and juice of the fruit can enhance muscle regeneration, bolster immunity, and improve blood flow.
As a result, tart cherry is becoming an increasingly popular supplement for serious athletes and individuals who want to take their health and fitness to the next level.
Tart cherries help you sleep your way to optimal mind-and-body performance.
Athletes often have sore muscles from high training volume, as well as high competition. A number of studies have shown that Montmorency tart cherries reduce inflammatory response after hard training, as well as the oxidative damage caused by strength exercises.
#1 – Tart Cherry Promotes Deep Sleep
A 2006 study assessed the effects of tart cherries on biomarkers of muscle damage in 14 male college students. The results supported the idea that tart cherries reduce muscle pain and strength loss.
Interestingly, some study participants also reported improved sleep – which sparked a huge interest in Montmorency tart cherries as a potential sleep aid.
Ever since that study, more and more research has fueled the link between tart cherry consumption and increased levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.
So much so, that the effects of tart cherries on melatonin are now well-known. The fruit has a significant impact on urinary melatonin levels during bedtime, sleep efficiency and total sleep time. Helping to deepen undisturbed sleep.
A randomized crossover study recruited a group of older adults who suffered from insomnia. They have them either 8oz of Montmorency tart cherry as a supplement or a placebo, daily for 2 weeks.
After a 2-week washout period, the researchers exchanged the tart cherry and placebo.
The results were stunning. They found that tart cherries increased sleep time by almost 90 minutes on average, compared to placebo.
In a similar study, polysomnography results showed improved sleep time and efficiency from a daily dose of 480ml of tart cherry juice. The study also reported reduced inflammatory biomarkers and improved tryptophan absorption – a key amino acid that, as we’ve said, helps your brain make melatonin.
#2 – Tart Cherry Boosts Exercise Recovery
Recent scientific literature shows evidence that athletes could massively improve strength recovery, as well as decrease inflammation-induced reductions in performance, by simply adding tart cherry into their supplement stack.
You can take it on a daily basis but it becomes even more crucial during periods of heavy exercise where muscles get sore and inflamed.
Like other supplements, gym-goers should aim to have a loading phase for Montmorency tart cherry for optimal recovery. Dosing once or twice per day for 3-5 days in the lead up to an event or hard training session.
Speaking of the dose…
Montmorency tart cherry optimal dosage for sleep depends on the way you take it.
If drinking tart cherry juice, the optimal dosage is 8oz (240ml) twice per day.
If taking the supplement, look for a high-quality, whole tart cherry extract with 500mg per serving.
Ideally, the best supplements will use CherryPURE® extract, which is a carrier-free, freeze-dried powder produced from Montmorency Tart Cherry skins.
We only currently know of one sleep aid that uses this form of Montmorency tart cherry, and it’s Performance Lab Sleep.
Side Effects – Are Tart Cherries Safe to Eat?
Montmorency tart cherries are safe food that won’t cause any side effects for most people.
That said, here are a few things you should know before consuming tart cherries:
- They’re high in quercetin – this is an antioxidant with strong bioactive effects. It reduces oxidative stress and improves blood flow to your brain. However, if you’re on any form of blood-thinning medication, you should speak with your doctor before drinking a large amount of cherry juice!
- They contain sorbitol – this is a type of sugar alcohol that is healthier than normal sugar, but in very rare cases, it can cause digestive discomfort.
One last thing, and an obvious one: don’t take tart cherry supplements early in the day as they can make you sluggish!
Sleep is essential for our performance, physical health, and mental well-being. Without it we can’t function well.
If sleep wasn’t so important, we’d stop needing it after so many years of our evolution. Something that left our prehistoric ancestors vulnerable to predators and dangers for many hours each night must have some sound logic behind it, right?
If you’re not getting enough optimal sleep, your quality of life will suffer. And if you like to exercise regularly, you increase the risk of injury or illness.
Montmorency tart cherries are shown, in clinical research, to support sleep quality and deep restoration. Popping your cherry as a supplement will help you achieve regenerative sleep you need to think clear, train hard, and live life to the fullest.