Cherry on Top: A Tool for Recovery
*As endurance athletes we are constantly searching for the most effective tools to allow our bodies to recover from the punishment we dole upon it. There has be a recent surge towards plant-based, anti-oxidant heavy foods and the makers of CHERRISH walk us though the science behind the value of adding such to your own diet.
It’s safe to say that we’re living in a plant-based moment right now. In every corner of our fitness, health and wellness-oriented world we are rediscovering and implementing the innately intelligent healing powers of these plants – building the foundation of our diets, our medicine, and even our workout regimens off of their known benefits.
When looking for foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory and packed with an array of antioxidant nutrients; turn to brightly colored foods from nature and not the lab. In addition to the anti-inflammatory hero turmeric, there are the longstanding favorites like blueberries, dark greens, garlic, and fatty fish – but it’s the tart cherry, specifically the well-studied Montmorency tart cherry that deserves a spot right next to these known superfoods.
Avoiding the Sugar Rush One unfortunate perception when it comes to juice deals mainly with sugar content. Many avoid “non-green” options based on sugar-levels perceived as too high to have any sort of real health benefit. Quite the opposite, the juice of the Montmorency and the Bing will not illicit the “spike and crash” of other traditional juice beverages. With cherries having the lowest glycemic levels of all fruits they can actually help the body lower and maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin levels. This helps sustain steady energy throughout daily activities, both in and out of the gym.
Another pleasant benefit to bringing the Montmorency and Bing together is that they “feed off of each other”, exponentially raising the ORAC score of CHERRiSH’s proprietary blend to the highest antioxidant rating of all beverages, higher even than the sum of both cherry’s individual levels combined.
Known in endurance running circles as the “recovery fruit” for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and popular in the collegiate and professional sports world in juice form, the Montmorency tart cherry hails from small family farms in North America – especially flourishing in the harsher climates of Michigan. The key tart cherry ingredient in CHERRiSH and unique in both its flavor and nutrition profile, the Montmorency has been studied more than any other variety, more than 50 studies in fact. The findings support an array of benefits, from their aforementioned anti-inflammatory powers – on a general systemic level as well as helping to recover from acute inflammation post-training and exercise – to high antioxidant levels, their ability to aid sleep, and even mitigate pain to the point of replacing traditional NSAIDs for pain management, without the negative toll on the body.
Tart Cherries at a Glance
Antioxidants (ORAC score per 100 grams): The antioxidant values of foods are expressed in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
- Cherry juice concentrate: 12,800 ORAC units
- Dried cherries: 6,800 ORAC units
- Frozen cherries: 2,033 ORAC units
- Canned cherries: 1,700 ORAC units
Pigments: Tart cherries contain 30 to 40 milligrams of anthocyanins 1 and 2 in every 100 grams of fruit. Anthocyanins are the flavonoid pigments found in fruits, including cherries. Anthocyanins are more effective than vitamin C, four times more potent as an antioxidant than the well-known vitamin E, and have been compared to ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen for their anti-inflammatory action.
Nutrients: Tart cherries are excellent sources of beta-carotene (vitamin A), and are also rich in vitamins C and E, and provide potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber. Tart cherries are one of the few known food sources of melatonin—a potent antioxidant that helps regulate circadian rhythms and natural sleep patterns. Montmorency cherries, in particular, contain 13.5 nanograms of melatonin per gram.
The pulp and skin of the Montmorency tart cherry also has the most potent anti-inflammatory flavonoid compounds to be found in any fruit or vegetable, responsible for reducing the swelling and pain associated with anything from arthritis to exercise-induced muscle damage. Numerous studies conducted over the past decade have specifically found that regular consumption of tart cherry juice can speed post-workout recovery, increase overall training capacity and enhance performance in races by reducing muscle pain, all on account of these anti-inflammatory properties. So, if you’re training for a race, taking a new yoga class, wanting to really up your strength and endurance on the gym floor, or even simply want to bounce back after a long hard day of running all around (anyone with kids out there?), tart cherries can help your body get there.
Additional Benefits: Cherries have been shown to have an additional benefit on the path to recovery, this time in the form of sleep. It’s interesting to note that there is more melatonin found in tart cherries than any other fruit or vegetable. Responsible for the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm, and controlling the wake-sleep cycle, recent research positions Montmorency tart cherry juice (like CHERRiSH) as a promising sleep aid. It has been shown to extend sleep time as well as improve sleep quality in adults who drank two 8-ounce servings per day for 7 days.
Created by Dan Haggart, an avid long-distance runner who looked around after his races and saw all the die-hards drinking small bottles of tart cherry juice concentrate, he thought “we need a ready-to-drink juice rather than a harsh concentrate”, and the beginnings of CHERRiSH was born. Still running into the ‘too tart’ problem, he decided to add in the flavor and nutrition profile of the sweet Bing, and that’s where the magic happened – a true example of the innate, almost mystical intelligence of nature.
You can learn more about how to CHERRiSH your health and Montmorency tart cherry juice’s many benefits at https://www.cherrish.com/.