Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tart Cherries: Sour has the Power

Eating well, before and after a workout, is key to performance, and cherries may be a key to reducing the soreness that comes with exercise. Studies suggest that the antioxidants in tart cherries may provide healing by adding them to your pre- and post- workout meal plan. Yes, cherries! Cherries are fun to eat, easy to add to your diet, and a powerhouse of nutrition important to athletes. Not just a summer time treat, sour cherries are available all year round as dried or frozen cherries or cherry juice. While health benefits are greater in sour cherries than in their sweet cousins, all cherries provide a great addition to your day.

Colorful fruits and vegetables play a key role in any healthy diet. Science indicates that purple and red foods contain powerful antioxidants. But what is unique about cherries is that they contain specific anothycyanins that have been shown to block enzymes called cyclooxygenase 1 and 2, thereby reducing pain from inflammation. Research seems to support that cherries are a rich source of these anthocyanins – greater than other fruits and berries. This enzyme inhibiting activity has found to be similar to the actions of ibuprofen. More research is on the horizon.

One study conducted by Oregon Health and Sciences University seems to indicate the power of cherries on inflammation. Runners drank tart cherry juice twice a day for seven days prior to and on the day of a long-distance relay. Participating runners reported noticeably less muscle pain following the race.

In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, cherries are also a source of carbohydrate and high in Vitamin A and C, and also contain Vitamin E. Cherries are also a source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and folate. All of these nutrients are important for taking care of your health and your sport.

Here are a few ways to include cherries in your pre- and post-workout meals:


v Drink a 10 oz glass of tart cherry juice or cherry juice blend

v Add dried cherries to a cup of oatmeal or other whole grain cereal

v Consider substituting dried cherries for raisins in muffins or oatmeal cookies

v Combine frozen cherries with other berries and low fat yogurt in a smoothie

Post Workout

Remember to refuel within 30 minutes of exercising with a 3-4g:1g ratio of carbs to protein.

v Enjoy dried cherries with a handful of nuts for a quick grab-and-go snack

v Drink tart cherry juice with a sports bar

v Add dried cherries to a green salad along with a balanced dinner

v Add dried cherries in chili or pasta to add tang and nutrition

**Remember practice your nutrition game plan in practice before your big meet. Never try anything new on competition day!


Choosecherries.com. [Internet]. Cherry Marketing Institute. [updated October 27, 2009; cited November 18, 2009]. Available from http://choosecherries.com/.

Murray M, Pizzorno J, Pizzorno L. Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books; 2005.

Wood R. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. Penguin Books; 1999

Yeager S, Editors of Prevention Health Books. The Doctors Book of Food Remedies. Rodale; 1998.

Momentum Nutrition & Fitness 2009