When I first hooked up with the Tart Cherry people about working with them, I was an occasional binge user of tart cherry juice who had heard it was good for athletes but didn’t really know why. I was a genuine believer that real food has super powers, (Picky Bars, duh) and was interested in promoting a real fruit rather than a supplement company. Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) sent me the research, I was impressed, and I jumped on board. Almost one year later, I want to share my five takeaways from my experience with tart cherries.
- Taste: They are an acquired taste. A rapid one. Much faster than coffee (18 years), brussel sprouts (24 years), or scotch (30 years + conversion to hipster). The juice isn’t overly sweet and it took about a week to enjoy it and another week to crave it. The dried tart cherries you can get at Trader Joe’s are instantly loveable, even by my 2 year old. Now I crave a glass of juice over ice right before bed, which leads me to #2.
- Sleep: The melatonin effects on sleep are real. Jesse responds to it even better than I do, and as a result has become a nightly tart cherry juice drinker. He’s a lifer now. The past year for me has had a lot of unusual life stressors, (the death of my father, a lingering heel injury I just got resolved this week with surgery), and during particularly terrible times, my insomnia was unavoidable, but when I was in a more normal state, I do feel tart cherry juice had the relaxing effect that the research indicates it does. I would recommend it for the melatonin boost 100% based on Jesse’s experience.
- Recovery: As a way to boost recovery, my experience lined up with the research. I would recommend daily tart cherry juice for people during their training cycle, especially for people doing longer distance preparation for marathons and half marathons. Inflammation is what makes you feel like doo doo, and tart cherry juice helps reduce that, especially when taken beforehand. It’s recovery by way of pre-covery.
- Snacking: Dried tart cherries are an amazing distraction for hungry, misbehaving toddlers. Plus they are the single best condiment for oatmeal, followed closely by sliced roasted almonds. They pack a lot of flavor without being insanely sweet, so a handful as a snack is more satiating than other dried fruit.
- More Please: I’m going to keep it rolling in a way that works for me, because it’s easy and it works. I’m not great at developing obsessive lifestyle habits. I don’t take vitamins unless I have a deficiency, and even then I have trouble remembering to take them. But I genuinely enjoy drinking tart cherry juice before bed, so it’s easy to do. And I’ll keep eating them as snacks and on my oatmeal because they taste good. In that way I’ll keep getting my recommended two servings a day, helping me with recovery from surgery and return to healthy competition.
For those of you who are interested, check out choosecherries.com to learn more about this under-appreciated fruit grown mostly in the fine state of Michigan. There are recipes for the foodies, research for the science nerds, and lots of inspiration to #GoTart.
Thanks for the support this year, CMI!