If cherry juice isn’t a staple on your grocery list, you could be missing out on big benefits. This spring, Louisiana State University researchers found that insomniacs get an extra hour and 24 minutes of sleep if they drink tart cherry juice before bed. Though previous studies had suggested a link, this was the first time scientists tracked cherry juice’s impact with polysomnographic equipment, which studies multiple sleep parameters.
Cherry Juice for Insomnia
So, why cherry juice? As the study’s co-author Dr. John Finley told us, “cherry juice contains melatonin, which is known to enhance both quality and length of sleep.” Cherries are also rich in procyanidins and anthocyanins, antioxidants that spur sleep.
Both Finley and co-author Dr. Jack Losso believe cherry juice could be used to treat occasional sleep trouble as well as insomnia. Even if you only suffer from poor sleep occasionally, it’s “highly likely” that cherry juice can help.
Other Benefits of Cherry Juice
As if better sleep wasn’t reason enough, cherry juice has been linked to several other benefits. It’s perhaps best known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Dr. Finley noted that cherry juice aids “rapid recovery from intense exercise.” According to Dr. Losso, cherry juice can also minimize post-run muscle pain.
Like many fruit concentrates, tart cherry juice contains flavonoids, antioxidants that that boost immune function. There’s also evidence that tart cherries can help you manage your weight. In a study of obesity-prone animals, researchers found an association between tart cherries and reduced belly fat. Some doctors have even linked cherry juice to lower blood pressure.
How to Drink Cherry Juice
Most studies suggest consuming two 8-ounce servings of cherry juice a day to reap its benefits. Dr. Finley suggests one in the morning and one at night. If you’re using cherry juice concentrate, dilute 2 tablespoons with water for the same effect.
7 Cherrific Cherry Juice Recipes
Morning Health Shot: Combine 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with ¾ ounce of tart cherry juice.
Fruit Sunrise: Blend 1 cup tart cherry juice and 1 cup apple or orange juice. Cut with 1 teaspoon raw ginger and ½ teaspoon of turmeric.
Tart Cherry Limeade: Add 2 tablespoons of tart cherry juice concentrate and the juice of 3 limes to a 2-cup mixture of coconut and plain water.
Post Workout Cherry Smoothie: Pulse ½ cup frozen tart cherries, ½ cup low-fat yogurt, 1 banana, 1 tablespoon tart cherry juice concentrate, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, a splash of milk, and ice.
Cherry Fizz: Mix equal parts cherry juice concentrate and ginger ale.
For something a little stronger, try one of these cherry-infused takes on classic cocktails:
Tart Cherry Old Fashioned: Muddle ½ ounce of tart cherry and 2 dashes of bitters with a cube of raw brown sugar. Fill the glass with 2 shots of bourbon, add ice, and garnish with an orange peel.
Cherry Cosmo: Shake 3 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of triple sec, ½ ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate, and the juice of 1 lime in a shaker with ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with a twist of lime.
Alternative Insomnia Cures
If cherry juice doesn’t strike your fancy, try adding more kiwis to your diet. Taiwanese researchers have found that in addition to their immunity-boosting vitamin C and high fiber content, the superfruit can also improve both sleep quality. Eating just one kiwi a day helps people fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer, and achieve more better quality sleep.
Dr. Finley also suggested trying valerian root to improve sleep and fight insomnia. It “has been widely used to treat sleeping disorders in Europe for decades,” he said. You can find valerian at natural medicine stores.