Tart Cherry Juice Is the Key to Deeper Sleep, Less Pain and More — Top Docs Reveal How to Get All the Health Benefits

If you love a sweet-tart treat, you’re in luck — and your body will thank you for every delicious sip. Tart cherry juice not only makes a wonderful addition to cocktails, mocktails and smoothies, it can also keep you healthy and happy. Whether you're seeking relief for bothersome aches and pains, insomnia or high blood pressure, its tart cherry juice drinks to the rescue. Here, let's dive into what are the health benefits of tart cherry juice and the best (and refreshing!) ways to tap into its healing powers.

Why tart cherry juice drinks are exploding in popularity

Tart cherries have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and for good reason. Also called sour, dwarf or Montmorency cherries, the fruit is rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients such as fiber, potassium and vitamin A. While the whole cherries can be consumed fresh or dried, many people are opting for tart cherry juice. The rich, sweet-tart drink is tasty on its own or as an add-in to some of your favorite sippers. Ready to tickle your tastebuds and harness the health benefits of tart cherry juice?

The health benefits of tart cherry juice

Thanks to tart cherry juice's payload of antioxidants and nutrients, it makes for a powerful health-boosting elixir. Here is where the fruit really shines:

It soothes gout-triggered joint pain

Gout, the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, occurs when uric acid painfully crystallizes in joints (most often the big toe). One of the best natural remedies: anti-inflammatory tart cherry juice. Researchers reporting in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology found sipping a glass daily can cut the risk of a gout flare by 35% in two days. And when folks combined tart cherry juice with medications used to treat gout (such as allopurinol), they slashed their risk of a flare up by 75%. David Perlmutter, MD, author of Drop Acid, explains that tart cherries “contain high levels of two types of flavonoids that act like uric acid-lowering drugs.”

Feel a gout attack coming on? Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, author of Arthritis-Proof Your Life, advises mixing 4 Tbs. of tart cherry juice concentrate in 8 oz. of water and sipping the tonic. “It will start working within 20 to 30 minutes,” she says, rapidly tamping down discomfort. (Click through for more ways to outsmart gout pain.)

The best part: Tart cherry juice drinks don’t just help with gout pain. In a University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study, folks with knee osteoarthritis found that the juice was effective at tamping down aches. (Click through for easy moves that block knee pain.)

Tart cherry juice drinks for gout

It lowers high blood pressure

For those with hypertension, tart cheery juice drinks keep blood pressure in check. That's the word from researchers reporting in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They found that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the juice act like prescription angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, relaxing arteries and lowering blood pressure up to 7 points. (Tip: for an added boost, click through to see the blood pressure-lowering benefits of coconut water.)

It safeguards your memory for years to come

Another health benefit of tart cherry juice: The anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants that keep blood pressure low are also key for keeping your brain sharp.  That’s because these compounds encourage blood flow to the brain. The proof: Scientists publishing in the journal Food & Function found that enjoying the sip daily can reduce your risk of memory blips by 23% and notable improve reaction time. (Need an instant boost? Click through for 12 easy ways to get rid of brain fog fast.)

It speeds weight loss

Preliminary research out of the University of Michigan suggests that a daily dose of tart cherry juice may melt stubborn inches. Credit goes to the way the juice’s anthocyanins quiet signals that cause cells to hold on to fat. In one animal study, those given a cherry-rich diet had 9% less body fat than those given a typical Western diet. (Click through for more natural ways to melt body fat.)

It helps you sleep longer and more deeply

Enjoying tart cherry juice for a nightcap can help you sleep up to 85 minutes longer each night, a better result than Ambien, according to researchers from Louisiana State University. Why? “Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone regulating the sleep/wake cycle,” reveals Karman Meyer, RD, LDM, author of Eat to Sleep and founder of TheNutritionAdventure.com. Her advice: Enjoy a glass at breakfast and one at dinner to help realign your circadian rhythms for your best sleep ever. (Considering a supplement for better sleep? Click through to discover why melatonin gummies could have dangerous side effects.)

It bolsters bone strength

Sleep isn’t the only health benefit of tart cherry juice credited to melatonin — the hormone can also help boost bone density. In fact, women who sipped the juice daily in an Oklahoma State University study had bones that were 400% more dense than those who didn’t have the drink. Experts say it works by reducing bone breakdown to keep your skeleton strong. (Click through to learn how to increase your melatonin levels naturally.)

How tart cherry juice drinks can bolster bone strength

What to to look for in tart cherry juice

Ready to whip up a health-boosting tart cherry juice sipper? Just make sure the juice you're using is unsweetened, as sugar-sweetened juices can negate some of the powerful health benefits of tart cherry juice. One to try: Ocean Spray Pure 100% Unsweetened Tart Cherry Juice (Buy from Walmart, $10.16). If you're not sure where to start, we've rounded up our favorite tart cherry juice drinks below.

Lemon-Cherry Sipper

Lemon-Cherry Sipper Drink
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  • ¾ cup tart cherry juice

  • 2 tsp. honey

  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

  • 2 sprigs fresh mint

In cocktail shaker, muddle all ingredients. Strain into ice-filled glass. Garnish. Makes 1 serving.

Cherry-Vanilla Whirl

Cherry-Vanilla Whirl Smoothie
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  • ½ cup tart cherry juice

  • ½ cup low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt

  • ¼ cup frozen tart cherries

  • ¼ cup almond milk

  • ¼ tsp. coconut extract

In blender, puree all ingredients; pour into glass. If desired, garnish with mint and fresh cherries. Makes 1 serving.

Cherry-Citrus Crush

Cherry-Citrus Crush tart cherry juice drinks
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  • ½ cup tart cherry juice

  • ¼ cup ruby red grapefruit juice

  • 1 Tbs. lime juice

  • 1 cup crushed ice

  • Lemon-lime soda

In glass, stir together cherry, grapefruit and lime juices; add ice. Top with soda. If desired, garnish with lime wheels. Makes 1 serving.

Read on to discover more of the amazing benefits of tart cherry juice:

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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