HAVE YOU NOTICED the buzz around tart cherry juice as of late?
“Tart cherry juice is having a moment on TikTok, thanks to some research suggesting it can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, speed up exercise recovery, and improve sleep,” says Kim Yawitz, R.D., a gym owner in St. Louis, MO.
So, what exactly is the stuff? Is it as good for you as the Internet chatter would indicate?
Tart cherry juice is normally made with Montmorency cherries—a sour variety native to France. They’re significantly more sour than the more popular varieties, like Bing cherries.
And yes, the specs get nutritionists’ stamp of approval. “Tart cherry juice is bursting with health-helping anthocyanins. Per cup, tart cherry juice contains 140 calories, as well as some iron, potassium, fiber,” says Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Plant Based with Amy.
Breaking down the nutrition some more, an eight-ounce serving of tart cherry juice has 139 calories, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 27 grams of sugar, and one gram of protein. It’s also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin A, melatonin, and tryptophan, Yawitz says.
Melatonin might be the key word there.
Can tart cherry juice really help you doze off at night?
Is Tart Cherry Juice Healthy?
In short, says Gorin, tart cherry juice offers many benefits. “It can help reduce inflammation, as well as muscle soreness caused by exercise,” says Gorin. According to a review study in Nutrients, it may also help control blood pressure and reduce blood sugar levels.
Still, dietitians caution it’s not a cure-all. (Spoiler alert: No food is.)
“We can’t say for sure if tart cherry juice deserves all the hype it’s been getting lately, simply because there haven’t been a lot of large human trials on it,” explains Yawitz. “We know that tart cherry juice is a good source of antioxidants, and there’s some evidence that drinking it daily can reduce cellular damage and inflammation.”
Yes, it sounds impressive. But, more research still needs to be done to confirm these preliminary findings.
Can Tart Cherry Juice Help You Sleep?
There’s some promise that tart cherry juice can help you in the snooze department.
“Tart cherry juice contains melatonin—and in fact is one of the few food sources of it. Melatonin helps with regulating your internal clock and helps with sleep regulation,” says Gorin.
Regularly drinking tart cherry juice may increase sleep time as well as sleep efficiency, per the Nutrients study.
But while tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan—an amino acid that helps the body make even more melatonin, evidence is limited. “There haven’t been many high-quality studies on tart cherry juice for sleep, and most of the available human trials have been incredibly small,” Yawitz says.
The research has been a mixed bag, to say the least. Some studies conclude that drinking tart cherry juice daily could improve sleep, while other studies have been “pretty underwhelming,” she says.
When it comes to improving sleep, Yawitz shares that there are other approaches to insomnia that are calorie and sugar free, and that don’t involve chugging liquids right before bedtime (which isn’t great for sleep if it makes you pee).
“Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered the gold standard, but you could also try simple changes like cutting back on caffeine and alcohol or sticking to a consistent sleep schedule,” she suggests.
How Much Tart Cherry Juice Do You Need?
Again, the final verdict is still out on how truly beneficial tart cherry juice is for you. But if you find you like the taste of tart cherry juice and it helps you with various ailments—whether it’s arthritis pain or poor sleep—it may be worth incorporating into your daily diet. There’s little harm in trying it as long as you’ve cleared it with your doctor beforehand.
“You can safely drink up to 16 ounces of tart cherry juice daily if you like the taste and are healthy overall,” Yawitz says. “Most sleep studies have called for this ‘dose,’ split into two servings daily.”
Perri is a New York City-born and -based writer; she holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now the Natural Gourmet Center at the Institute of Culinary Education. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Men's Journal, Rolling Stone, Oprah Daily, Insider.com, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, and more. She's probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she'll never turn down a bloody mary. Learn more at VeganWhenSober.com.