NEWCASTLE, United KingdomCyclists who drink anthocyanin-rich tart cherry juice concentrate before a high-intensity cycling event may experience less inflammation and oxidative stress compared to those who drink another beverage, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients.
For this study, researchers at Northumbria University gave 16 well-trained, male cyclists about 1 ounce (30 ml) of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with water (equivalent to 90 whole Montmorency tart cherries per serving), or a calorie-matched placebo, twice a day for seven days. On days five, six and seven, the participants performed prolonged, high-intensity cycling intervals designed to replicate the demands of a three-day race.
The researchers collected blood samples and found that markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were significantly lower in the cyclists who consumed the tart cherry juice concentrate compared to those who did not. At one point during the trial, oxidative stress was nearly 30% lower in the tart cherry group compared to the other group.
Strenuous exercise can cause temporary inflammation and oxidative stress that can lead to muscle damage, muscle soreness and reduced capacity to recover quickly, said lead researcher Glyn Howatson, Ph.D., laboratory director at the department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University. He attributes the recovery benefits shown in the study to the natural compounds in Montmorency tart cherries. One of the natural compounds found in Montmorency tart cherries is anthocyanins.
“Previous studies have looked at tart cherries and the effect on recovery following weight lifting exercise and marathon running, but until now there hasn't been information on recovery following strenuous exercise from cycling," Howatson said. “We found that those cyclists that consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice had statistically significant lower indices of inflammation and metabolic oxidative stress, which is the first time it has been demonstrated following this type of exercise."