I know I usually talk about all my good eats and treats, but it’s time we talked a little about my workouts and exercise regimen. I love to work out and exercise just about every day. But I realized that my workout is only as good as my recovery meal afterwards.
I’ve talked about eating protein after a workout before and how important it is. Sure, if getting animal protein is your thing, by all means go for it. But what’s a vegan to do when he or she is trying to make gains without making animals suffer? Despite my ambivalence towards protein powders, I’ve noticed that plant-based protein powders are a much safer and healthier alternative to the standard whey and casien protein shakes you’re accustomed to. If you do your research, you’ll definitely find a few protein powders on the market that aren’t loaded with lead and even arsenic.
The Benefits of Tart Cherries
Compared to blueberries, açai berries, and my beloved goji berries, cherries are often overlooked in the superfood world. But that doesn’t make them any less important! There are a ton of benefits to cherries, specifically tart cherries that make them essential to your post-workout routine.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, do you even know what a tart cherry is? Fortunately, my Iranian background and culture makes me very familiar with this fruit. I fondly remember picking tart cherries in the summer and watching my grandmother make all sorts of jams, syrups, and rice dishes with these cherries.
Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) are in the same family as sweet cherries. They are slightly more acidic, however, which makes them handle heat (i.e. baking and desserts) much better than other cherry varieties. Their acidic nature is also what gives them their sour or tart flavor. While all cherries, have antioxidants, it is believed the tart cherry yields more medicinal qualities than other varieties.
Benefits of Tart Cherries Include:
- Less DOMS—What’s DOMS exactly? In the health and fitness world, we’ve got an entire acronym for that sore feeling you get the day after an intense workout. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is no picnic to say the least. But studies show that consuming cherry products after workouts can help flush lactic acid out of your muscles quicker, aiding in recovery so you can get back to exercising.
- Less Risk of Stroke—Tart cherries are believed to lower your stroke risk because they contain a compound called anthocyanin. This compound not only give cherries their deep red color, but can also help regulate fat and glucose levels in the body that can lead to high cholesterol and thereby strokes.
- Less Insomnia—Millions of Americans complain about fatigue and sleep deprivation. But what if I told you there was a safe and effective way to help you sleep better and it didn’t require any addicting sleep medications? Tart cherries can help increase melatonin production, the hormone that induces sleep. Because of stress, busy schedules, and excessive exposure to artificial light, many people have melatonin levels that are totally out of whack. Drinking 1 cup of cherry juice before bed on a regular basis can help normalize your melatonin levels over time. Just make sure you do this BEFORE you brush your teeth!
For this recipe, I recommend drinking it within 60 minutes of working out. But you can also have this for breakfast or a snack when you’re feeling tired. Note how I use organic frozen sour cherries. I found these awesome tart cherry smoothie packs that are absolutely to die for. Simply break off a pack and throw it into your next smoothie. Give them a try next time you hit up your local health food store!