Drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice before a race can be beneficial for cyclists after researchers found that it led to less inflammation and oxidative stress compared to those who drank another beverage.
A research team led by Dr. Glyn Howatson with PhD student Phillip Bell at Northumbria University gave 16 well-trained, male cyclists about 1 ounce (30 ml) of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with water (equivalent to 90 whole Montmorency tart cherries per serving), or a calorie-matched placebo, twice a day for seven days.
On days five, six and seven, the participants performed prolonged, high-intensity cycling intervals - exercise that was designed to replicate the demands of a three-day race.
The researchers collected blood samples and found that markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were significantly lower in the cyclists who consumed the tart cherry juice concentrate compared to those who did not.
At one point during the trial, oxidative stress was nearly 30 percent lower in the tart cherry group compared to the other group.
Strenuous exercise can cause temporary inflammation and oxidative stress that can lead to muscle damage, muscle soreness and reduced capacity to recover quickly, explains research lead Glyn Howatson, Ph.D., laboratory director at the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University. He attributes the recovery benefits shown in the study to the natural compounds in Montmorency tart cherries. One of the natural compounds found in Montmorency tart cherries is anthocyanins.
The study has been published in the journal Nutrients.