Tart Cherries? The One Fruit to Rule Them All?

June 6, 2022 by

Today we are going to talk about the performance benefits of tart cherries, but first, a story:

Tart cherries, also known as Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus) are very high in phytomelatonin. Phytomelatonin is an indoleamine (neurotransmitter) derivative of tryptophan, much like the human endogenous forms of melatonin and serotonin. In plants, it is used to protect against stressful environmental conditions. In humans, melatonin plays an important role in sleep/wake cycles. Because synthetic melatonin comes with some risk, plant derived melatonin (phyto-) is a compound of interest, especially in people who are reluctant to take OTC synthetic melatonin. Tart cherries have some of the highest levels of phytomelatonin (next to pistachios), so tart cherry concentrate is commonly consumed as a sleep aid. It is a product that I also have recommended to clients in the past who struggle with their sleep.

Several years ago, I made the suggestion to one of my clients to start taking it about 60 minutes before bedtime. After a few weeks of supplementation, I asked how she was liking it and if she had noticed any changes in her sleep latency or quality. She reported that she had not noticed any changes in her sleep but that she was still enjoying having such a tasty treat before bedtime. This was odd feedback because “tasty” is not an adjective many people who use to describe tart cherries. Tart cherries are, well, tart. Very tart, bordering on sour in some cases.

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