Cherry linked to exercise recovery

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Antioxidants in cherry juice could also help arthritis sufferers
Antioxidants in cherry juice could also help arthritis sufferers

Related tags: Scientific method, science, Chemistry

Sports scientists at Northumbria University are a step closer to a breakthrough in their bid to discover if antioxidants found in Montmorency tart cherry juice can aid post-exercise recovery and ease inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

The juice has long been associated with natural pain relief, fighting heart disease and aiding sleep.

However, researchers at Northumbria University also wanted to further explore whether tart cherry juice aids muscle recovery after strenuous exercise. The team believes that the key to this lies with the group of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are permitted as a food additive as E163.

Scientific study

To advance their theory, they commissioned the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) to carry out a scientific study into whether anthocyanins reach blood plasma following digestion an important thing to determine given that the absorption of antioxidants in general is known to be very low.

FERA analysed blood samples that were taken at regular intervals over a 48-hour period from a group of volunteers who agreed to consume two different doses of a Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate.

Equipped with its new analytical equipment capable of detecting chemicals in plasma at minute concentrations, the FERA team, led by principal analytical chemist Dr Mike Scotter, successfully detected anthocyanin molecules at a one part in 1bn level in the samples of those who had taken the tart cherry juice.

Crucially, the breakthrough enables the Northumbria University team to progress to the next stage of its study, subject to further funding.

‘Benefit’

Dr Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist and laboratory director in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University said: “The presence of anthocyanins in plasma tells us that the body is able to absorb and use these compounds, but the next stage of research would be to determine if they are directly responsible or if they cause another reaction in the body that is delivering this – benefit such as reduced inflammation and reduction of uric acid.

“By using scientific analysis to understand which compounds can be attributed to muscle recovery, we will be much better placed to provide the food and drink industry with accurate information on the ingredients that are most beneficial to athletes and other populations with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.”

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