Are Tart Cherries the New Running Recovery Food?

Rashelle Brown
Written by

What Runners Have to Say About Tart Cherries

So the research has been done, both in the lab and on the race course. But how does the average runner feel about tart cherries?

I canvassed daily runners to find out who had tried tart cherries, in any form, as a recovery supplement. Of the few responses I got, all were favorable but far from what one could call conclusive.

In general, runners reported that consuming cherries seemed to make them less sore than they normally would have been after long runs or tough workouts, but that there was no noticeable effect when they weren't training as hard.

Matt Frazier, creator of the No Meat Athlete blog and podcast, performed a tart cherry juice experiment last year. When contacted, he pointed out that he hadn't been running much prior to the trial, so it was hard to say whether the concentrate was helping him recover or not.

However, he did note that when he started taking it, the chronic shoulder pain he'd been suffering diminished within a few days, allowing him to return to full activity. (Note: The Cherry Marketing Institute is a sponsor of Frazier’s blog and podcast.)

A Note From the Author

After learning more about the potential benefits of this new recovery food, I decided to give tart cherries a try for myself.

I ordered a bag of dried Montmorency cherries rather than opting for a juice or concentrate. I ate them for a week, and I ran every day that week.

The most notable benefit I experienced was that dried tart cherries are delicious. I snacked on them by the handful and swapped them out for the dried cranberries I normally put on my kale salad.

I wasn't running many miles or doing very hard workouts during my weeklong experiment, so I can't say that I noticed any physiological benefits. But when you consider the potential benefits shown in the scientific research, and combine that with the other health benefits of whole fruit, tart cherries end up with a pretty great benefit to risk ratio.

The only real downside is the sugar content of the fruit—about 25 grams per serving. But if you incorporate them into your post-workout recovery meal, then the calories and sugar shouldn't be of great concern. The best strategy may be to replace empty calories with a serving of tart cherries.

Recipes for Recovery

Here's a delicious and nutritious kale salad recipe, in case you decide to give tart cherries a try.

  • 4 cups kale, washed and torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries

Massage the dressing into the kale with your fingertips until the leaves are tender, then add the pecans and dried cherries.

For a more portable snack, try these Cherry Almond Power Bites from Stoneridge Orchards.

Servings: 15 small bars

  • 2 1/2 cups unblanched slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2/3 cup Stoneridge Orchards dried tart cherries
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoon raw hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon water

1. Place almonds, flax meal, cherries, cranberries, hemp seeds, honey and salt in food processor.
2. Pulse until ground and then pulse in water until the mixture begins to form a solid ball.
3. Press mixture firmly into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish lined with wax paper.
4. Slice into bars and serve.

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