02/27/2015 11:40 EST | Updated 06/12/2015 05:59 EDT

8 Health Benefits Of Tart Cherries, According To Science

Cyrus McCrimmon via Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JULY 3: Katharine Lee picks sour cherries in a neighbor's yard in Denver on Thursday, July 3, 2014. She will make them into preserves for her Modern Gingham Preserves company. (Denver Post Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon)

During the Olympics, plenty of athletes talked about turning to tart cherry juice to enhance their performances, but it turns out, you don't need to be a pro to get the health benefits of this sour fruit.

"Tart cherries are particularly rich in anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds linked to reduced inflammation," says author and registered dietitian Dr. Wendy Bazilian of Bazilian’s Health in San Diego. "This is good news for athletes and for the increasing number of active adults who are looking to manage the aches and pains of physical activity as they age." Bazilian also acts as a scientific adviser for the Cherry Marketing Institute.

Tart cherries come in several different forms — juice, dried or frozen — and generally can be purchased at most local grocery stores or health food stores. Frozen tart cherries can cost about $1.25 per pound, while juice concentrate can cost up to $28 per quart (or 946 ml).

benefits of cherries

Bazilian adds these cherries are filled with nutrients like potassium and fibre, and are known for their bright red hue (sweet cherries are usually darker).

"Because they’re available year-round, tart cherries are also a versatile real food and ingredient that adds a unique sweet-tart flavour to any new food item," she says. Bazilian recommends adding dried tart cherries to your yogurt or making a tart cherry salsa for your chicken.

And although more research into tart cherries has to be done, below are eight studies that prove we're heading in a healthy direction.

Benefits Of Tart Cherries