Tart Cherry Offers Benefits to Endurance Runners?


Short-term supplementation with Montmorency tart cherry may improve markers of muscle catabolism, immune and inflammatory stress, and overall performance in aerobically trained individuals during endurance exercise.

 Photo © iStockphoto.com

Photo © iStockphoto.com

Bodybuilders may have found a few reasons to love Montmorency tart cherry last year after a study found the ingredient may reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery following a resistance-training workout.1 But now athletes engaged in endurance exercise, such as distance runners, may also be inclined to consider tart cherry supplements for a variety of exercise-related benefits.

Researchers in Texas report that short-term supplementation with Montmorency tart cherry in aerobically trained athletes may attenuate markers of muscle catabolism, reduce immune and inflammatory stress, maintain redox balance, and increase overall performance during a half-marathon run.2 The new study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, focused specifically on CherryPURE tart cherry skins provided by Shoreline Fruit LLC (Traverse City, MI) and Anderson Global Group LLC (Irvine, CA).


Study details

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 27 male (n=18) and female (n=9) endurance-trained runners or triathletes with a mean age of 21.8 years (+/-3.9). Subjects were randomized to consume 480-mg capsules of either CherryPURE tart cherry supplement or placebo once daily for ten days.

On the morning of day eight, all subjects performed an outdoor half-marathon run (21.1 km) in less than two hours. Participant fasting blood samples and quadriceps muscle soreness ratings were taken pre-run, 60 minutes after run, 24 hours after run, and 48 hours after run. Muscle soreness was assessed using an algometer with a graphic pain rating scale.

Researchers found that subjects in the cherry group averaged 13% faster race finish times than the placebo group and showed attenuations to muscle catabolic markers such as creatinine, urea/blood urea nitrogen, total protein, and coritosol. Inflammatory markers were also found to be 47% lower in the cherry group than the placebo group over time.

While the cherry group showed lower antioxidant activity pre-run, the experimental group experienced a linear increase in antioxidant activity at 24 and 48 hours post-race that was statistically different from the placebo group and pre-run levels. In terms of muscle soreness, the cherry group had 34% lower pre-run soreness than the placebo group.

“Results revealed that short-term supplementation of Montmorency powdered tart cherries surrounding an endurance challenge attenuated markers of muscle catabolism, reduced immune and inflammatory stress, better maintained redox balance, and increased performance in aerobically trained individuals,” researchers concluded.

This is the second arm of the tart cherry study from Texas A&M University, with the first being the aforementioned study on tarty cherry’s benefits to resistance-trained individuals, which was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition last November.  


Read more:

Ashwagandha Enhances Cardiorespiratory Endurance in New Study

Curcumin Reduces Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage, Study Suggests

Six Trends Driving the Sports Drinks Market


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


1. Lever K et al., “Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on an acute bout of intense lower body strength exercise in resistance trained males,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,” vol. 12 (November 2015): 41

2. Levers K et al., “Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute endurance exercise performance in aerobically trained individuals,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,” vol. 13 (May 2016): 22

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