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Muscle Recovery May be Added to Benefits of Antioxidant Rich Cherries

Juice made from Montmorency cherries, which are known for their high levels of polyphenols, may improve muscle recovery after exercise according to a new study published in the January 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Polyphenols are the powerful antioxidants found in plant foods, tea, coffee and chocolate. They have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Researchers from the Sports and Exercise Science Research Center in London recruited 10 athletic men to participate in the study. The men were randomly assigned to receive a polyphenol-rich cherry juice drink or a regular fruit juice control drink for one week before and two days after an intensive leg exercise.

The researchers then used a measure of muscle function called maximum voluntary contractions (MVC) to determine differences in muscle recovery. They found that the participants given the polyphenol-rich cherry juice recovered significantly more muscle function 24 and 48 hours after exercise.

The researchers noted that these benefits are likely due to the high level of antioxidants in the cherry juice which counteract oxidative stress caused by exercise. Cherries have among the highest amounts of antioxidants compared to other fruits. In addition to their potential to aid muscle recovery, they have also been linked to lower risks of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes.

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