What are Montmorency Tart Cherries ?
Montmorency Tart Cherries
These are a tart variety of cherries that are native to Western Europe particularly France, but are now grown in the USA and Canada.
They have been found to contain a variety of medical properties.
They reduce blood uric acid levels so therefore are beneficial to health in order to reduce gout.
They have been shown to also reduce the wall effect in training and help to increase muscle recovery. Indeed several professional sports team in the UK and Europe now use it for this specific purpose.
It contains a very low level of naturally occurring melatonin. Even though it is scientifically established that one would need to consume at least 1mg of melatonin to gain any effect the natural low level seen in this Montmorency tart cherry variety seems to give users a health benefit if consumed in the form of better and longer sleep.
In a recent study In the study, led by Dr Glyn Howatson, 20 healthy volunteers drank a 30ml serving of either tart cherry juice or a placebo juice twice a day for seven days.
Urine samples were collected from all participants before and during the investigation to determine levels of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound that heavily influences the human sleep-wake cycle.
During the study the participants wore an actigraphy watch sensor which monitored their sleep and wake cycles and kept a daily diary on their sleeping patterns.
The researchers found that when participants drank cherry juice for a week there was a significant increase in their urinary melatonin (15-16%) than the control condition and placebo drink samples.
The actigraphy measurements of participants who consumed the cherry juice saw an increase of around 15 minutes to the time spent in bed, 25 minutes in their total sleep time and a 5-6% increase in their sleep efficiency', a global measure of sleep quality.
Cherry juice drinkers reported less daytime napping time compared to their normal sleeping habits before the study and the napping times of the placebo group.
According to Dr Howatson, this is the first study to show direct evidence that supplementing your diet with a tart Montmorency cherry juice concentrate leads to an increase in circulating melatonin and provides improvements in sleep amongst healthy adults.
Dr Howatson, an exercise physiologist, said: "We were initially interested in the application of tart cherries in recovery from strenuous exercise. Sleep forms a critical component in that recovery process, which is often forgotten.
These results show that tart cherry juice can be used to facilitate sleep in healthy adults and, excitingly, has the potential to be applied as a natural intervention, not only to athletes, but to other populations with insomnia and general disturbed sleep from shift work or jet lag."
The study's co-authors are fellow Northumbria University academics Dr Jason Ellis, director of the Centre for Sleep Research, School of Life Sciences PhD students Jamie Tallent and Phillip Bell; Benita Middleton of the Centre for Chronobiology at University of Surrey; and Malachy McHugh of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.
Dr Ellis said: "Although melatonin is available over the counter in other countries, it is not freely available in the UK. What makes these findings exciting is that the melatonin contained in tart cherry juice is sufficient to elicit a healthy sleep response.
"What's more, these results provide us with more evidence surrounding the relationship between how we sleep and what we consume."
The findings will be published this week in the online edition of the European Journal of Nutrition,
We see the same melatonin effects when people consume other foods rich in melatonin such as wheat grass and barley grass as found in the natural sleep food supplement asphalia.
Montmorency can be found in two forms namely the Syrup or Juice or the capsules containing the powder or the cherries this has much lower sugar levels so may be a good choice for diabetics.