TART CHERRY JUICE is all the rage. Arnold Schwarzenegger slips it in smoothies. Elite marathoner Molly Huddle turns it into Jell-O and eats it at night. The entire Penn State football team takes shots of the stuff after every practice. All the devotion is because the tangy juice seems to prime the body for muscle recovery and sleep. And more than a decade of science backs up the benefits.
A 2018 review in Nutrients found that tart cherries significantly reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, along with exercise-induced muscle soreness and loss of strength. They’re also a natural food source of the sleep hormone melatonin—which is a rarity. And a review in Sports Medicine adds that having it regularly may lessen muscle damage and the perception of pain after a tough workout.
The magic likely lies in the fruit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. “Regular consumption before a damaging, stressful bout of exercise can increase the body’s total antioxidant capacity by 10 percent,” says Chad Kerksick, a tart-cherry researcher and exercise scientist at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
Tart cherry season is fleeting (two weeks) and the fruit is too delicate to ship from Michigan, where most are grown, so experts recommend juices or concentrates; we like all-natural Cherrish. Aim to drink 12 to 16 ounces a day—half in the morning, and the rest one to two hours before bed.
Each bottle of Cherrish contains 96 tart and dark cherries.