Consuming cherry juice can offset the effects of damaging muscle exercise, a new study reports.
In well-trained athletes that consumed cherry juice for 7 days prior to, and 2 days following damaging muscle exercise, markers of muscle damage and muscle recovery were significantly improved over a fruit juice concentrate.
Cherries contain large amounts of polyphenols, compounds that include flavonoids and anthocyanins (as do many darkly colored fruits). These compounds provide strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers found that muscular maximum voluntary contractions (a measure of muscle strength and function) improved significantly following consumption of cherry juice compared to the fruit juice concentrate.
They speculate that these benefits are due to the antioxidant activity of the cherry juice compounds; during intense exercise high levels of oxidative stress occur, causing muscle damage in addition to the exercise performed.
The moral of the story? Consuming high levels of antioxidants can make a difference in how your body recovers, and performs after exercise. The compounds in cherries (polyphenols) are found in many darkly colored fruits and vegetables. Green tea also has high levels of these.
Bowtell JL, Sumners PD, Dyer A, et al. “Montmorency Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Damage Caused By Intensive Strength Exercise.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 12 January 2011.