Tart Cherries

tart cherries on a tree

Tart cherries, often called "sour cherries", have been recently identified as having Melatonin in them, some foods contain very small amounts of melatonin, bananas, rolled oats and corn for example. But tart cherries, especially the Montmorency variety, have been proven to have the largest concentration - such a significant amount that it is actually enough to produce positive results in the body. 

This berry is also very rich in potent phytonutrients including anthocyanins which give cherries their deep red color and act as powerful antioxidants. Anthocyanins also help block the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes causing pain reaction in the body. That is why some people find tart cherries useful in relieving the pain of arthritis and gout.
Other compounds found in cherries are gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, kaempferol, quercetin, ellagic acid - all of which are potent antioxidants. 

Tart cherries, may help prevent the formation and progression of certain cancers, revert tumor cells back to normal and  lower arthritis, gout, heart disease, diabetes, cancers, brain health, muscle soreness during and after exercise, and weight management to mention a few.

Melatonin is a hormone known to regulate sleep and waking cycles. It is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is released into the blood at night time and its production is affected greatly by light.

Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant and plays a role in stimulating other antioxidants as well. Melatonin has been shown to effectively raise Glutathione levels in many tissues including those of the brain, liver, muscle and blood serum. In its turn Glutathione detoxifies our bodies while we sleep. That is why it is important to get at least 7-8 hours of good night sleep when Melatonin is produced and released into the blood stream.

The significant natural source of melatonin in tart cherries, especially the Montmorency variety, contain substantial amounts of melatonin, enough to produce a possitive effect in the body and without any side effects unlike the synthetic form of melatonin.


Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that can cross cell membranes, cross the blood-brain barrier, and it plays a role in stimulating other antioxidants - this makes it a truely unique antioxidant. It is considered more powerful than vitamins C, E and A, because it is soluble in both fat and water and can enter cells that vitamins cannot. Unlike other antioxidants, it does not undergo redox cycling, which is the ability of a molecule to undergo repeated reduction and oxidation and regain its antioxidant properties (in other words, it cannot be recycled). That is why it is referred to as a terminal antioxidant.
Melatonin has been shown to effectively raise Glutathione levels in many tissues, such as the brain, liver, blood serum and muscles.

ORAC Score of tart cherries
Antioxidant capacity of foods is measured in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units. ORAC score shows how many oxygen radicals a food can absorb and deactivate. The higher the score the better a food may be in its ability to fight oxidants. A person needs to consume 3,000 - 5,000 ORAC units a day. Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of concentrated cherry juice provide 12,800 ORAC units or just one serving of 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) will supply 3,657 ORAC units, which is more than the minimum daily recommended amount.