Polyphenol-rich cherry juice may boost exercise recovery

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Muscle

Juice made from Montmorency cherries may boost the recovery of muscle strength after intensive exercise, says a new study from London.

The benefits of the juice are reportedly related to its antioxidant activity, which may reverse the “oxidative damage induced by the damaging exercise”​, report researchers from the Sports and Exercise Science Research Centre at London South Bank University and UK Anti-Doping.

Writing in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise​, the London-based researchers report that seven days of consumption of the CherryActive-branded cherry juice prior to, and after intensive exercise produced a significant increase in recovery for knee extension maximum voluntary contractions, compared to an isoenergetic fruit concentrate control beverage.

“Montmorency cherry juice consumption improved the recovery of isometric muscle strength after intensive exercise perhaps due to attenuation of the oxidative damage induced by the damaging exercise,”​ wrote the authors, led by Dr Joanna Bowtell.

Sports nutrition market

The study supports a number of other studies reporting the potential benefits of cherry, and tart cherries, in particular. Indeed, a previous study (Journal of Nutrition​, 2006, Vol. 136, pp. 981-986) reported that daily consumption of 45 cherries could reduce circulating concentrations of inflammatory markers, with the researchers proposing that the flavonoids and anthocyanins in the cherries exert an anti-inflammatory effect and may lessen the damage response to exercise.

The most recent figures available value the global sports nutrition market at a massive US$4.7bn, with North America ($3.2bn) and western Europe ($713.6m) dominating the podium.

Study details

Dr Botwell and her co-workers recruited 10 well-trained men and assigned them to consume the cherry juice or the isoenergetic fruit concentrate beverage for one week before and for two days after a series of single leg knee extensions.

Results showed that the knee extension maximum voluntary contractions (MVC), a measure of muscle function, recovered significantly faster following consumption of the cherry juice, compared with the fruit control. Specifically, the MVC was 90.9 versus 84.9 24 hours after the exercise, and 92.9 versus 88.5 after 48 hours, respectively.

No differences between the groups were observed for the activity of the enzyme creatine kinase, which is involved in the production of energy.

According to the researchers, the potential benefits may be linked to the antioxidant activity of the juice. During intense exercise the production levels of oxidative stress are reported to increase and this may damage muscles. However, this may be attenuated with consumption of the antioxidant-rich cherry juice.

Source: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31820e5adc
“Montmorency Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Damage Caused By Intensive Strength Exercise”
Authors: J.L. Bowtell, D.P. Sumners, A. Dyer, P. Fox, K.N. Mileva

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