Tart cherry juice may have a surprising effect on exercise performance

The latest study on tart cherries has found that consuming this superfood in the form of a juice or concentrate may help improve endurance exercise performance. The findings join a growing body of research on tart cherries and their potential health benefits, examples of which include reduced blood pressure and lower levels of LDL 'bad' cholesterol. Juice made from this fruit has become increasingly popular with athletes.READ: Tart cherry 'superfood' fuels memory, cuts blood pressure and cholesterol

Montmorency cherries, more commonly called tart cherries, are often referred to as a 'superfood' due to their number potential health benefits and bioactive compounds. Juice made from these cherries, which taste sourer than their conventional counterparts, has become a popular recovery drink among athletes of both the amateur and elite varieties.

The latest research on this fruit focused on the cherry's potential for improving exercise endurance, not just recovery from exercise. The work involved a meta-analysis of 10 existing studies on Montmorency cherries and their association with exercise recovery. Most of the people who participated in these studies were endurance athletes.

The findings indicate that tart cherries, when consumed in the form of a powder or juice, may 'significantly' improve one's endurance exercise performance. The studies involved giving participants the cherries — 200 to 500mg of powder or 60 to 90mL/day of juice concentrate — in intervals ranging from the day of the exercise up to seven days before the exercise.

The greatest improvements in performance were observed in participants who also had the greatest levels of training; participants with low levels of training also experienced lowered benefits. As well, it should be noted that the performance benefits were observed in the pooled results, but only two of the 10 studies individually demonstrated performance enhancement.