Tart cherry juice vs capsules: which one should you choose? This is a question that many athletes ask when they want to enjoy the health and performance benefits of tart cherries.
These sour montmorency cherries are loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, melatonin and other phytochemicals that can help you sleep better, help with muscle soreness, reduce inflammation and recover faster.
In this post, we will compare the pros and cons of each form and help you decide which one is better for you and how to incorporate tart cherry into your soccer player diet plan.
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What is tart cherry juice
The juice of montmorency tart cherries, is the main source of tart cherry juice and concentrate which are a type of cherry that is sour and acidic.
Tart cherry juice is usually diluted with water and may be sweetened with sugar, fruit juice or other natural sweeteners to make it less tart. However, some brands do not add anything additional.
You can also buy tart cherry concentrate in easy to carry pouches.
Some athletes prefer the tart cherry concentrate as an easy to pack and tasty post game or post bedtime drink.
Tart cherry juice is a good source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
What are tart cherry capsules
Tart cherry capsules are made from the dried, powdered fruit or peel of the tart cherry. You can find tart cherry powder as a dietary supplement, either in capsule or tablet form or in a gummy.
Tart cherry capsules contain the same nutrients as tart cherry juice, but in a more convenient and easy to take form. They also have no added sugar or calories so it makes a great option for athletes who don’t want to add extra calories to their diet.
You can easily pack tart cherry capsules in your gear bag and travel kit.
However, you should always ensure that you are choosing a dietary supplement that has been third party certified to ensure you know what you are getting.
Benefits of tart cherry juice vs capsules
Both tart cherry juice and capsules have similar benefits, as they contain the same active ingredients. However, there may be some differences in the bioavailability, dosage and side effects of each form.
Here are some of the benefits of tart cherry juice vs capsules:
Tart cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle in humans. Also, tart cherries also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce melatonin.
Tart cherry juice has been shown to improve sleep quality and increase melatonin levels. (3) While tart cherry capsules may have a similar effect as juice, there is less research on their effectiveness for sleep.
Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce muscle pain.(4)
Drinking tart cherry juice may have a faster onset of action than capsules, as it is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream.
However, tart cherry capsules may have a longer duration of action than juice, as they are released more slowly into the body.
Tart cherry juice and capsules reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and aid recovery. (7) Studies have shown that tart cherry is more effective for recovery than for adaptation since adaptation to exercise relies on some inflammation. (8)
How to choose between tart cherry juice vs capsules
There is no definitive answer to which form of tart cherries is better for you, as it depends on your personal preferences and needs. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between tart cherry juice vs capsules:
If you enjoy the taste of tart cherries and you’re sweetener to your juice, you may prefer drinking tart cherry juice over taking capsules.
However, if you find the taste of tart cherries too sour or unpleasant, you may opt for capsules instead.
The recommended dosage for tart cherries varies depending on the product and the purpose of use.
Generally speaking, the per day dosage for athletes:
- 16 oz of tart cherry juice
- 2 TBSP of cherry juice concentrate
- 480 mg of tart cherry powder
*You should follow the instructions on the label of your product and consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
The cost of tart cherry products may vary depending on the brand, quality and quantity.
In general, tart cherry juice tends to be more expensive than capsules per serving, as it requires more cherries to produce. However, you may be able to find discounts or deals on bulk purchases or online orders.
You can find both tart cherry juice and capsules in grocery stores, at most health food stores or online. You may want to compare different options and read customer reviews before buying any product.
Also for any supplements you take, make sure they are third party tested so that you can be more confident that you are getting a safe product that contains what it says it does.
Tart cherries are a natural source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, melatonin and other phytochemicals that can help with sleep, muscle soreness, inflammation and muscle recovery.
You can consume tart cherries in the form of juice or capsules, depending on your preferences and needs.
Both forms have similar benefits, but there may be some differences in the bioavailability, dosage, cost and availability of each form.
You should consult your doctor before taking any supplements and follow the instructions on the label of your product.
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.