It is believed that cherries contain anti-inflammatory properties, and a new study of exercise-induced muscle pain may add credence to that.

Participants in the study were asked to drink a bottle of a cherry juice blend twice a day for three days before exercise and for four days after exercise—or to drink a placebo juice containing no cherries. The 12-ounce cherry drink contained the liquid equivalent of 50 to 60 tart cherries. The participants then performed a type of muscle-damaging exercise—flexing and tensing one arm 20 times. Those drinking the placebo juice reported their muscle strength fell by 22 percent, while those drinking the cherry juice blend reported only a 4 percent loss. The average pain score for the placebo group was 3.2 and the pain continued through the next 48 hours; for those drinking cherry juice the score was 2.4 and their pain peaked within 24 hours. Researchers say this difference is significant.

Researchers from the University of Vermont, New York’s Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, and CornellUniversity undertook the study. The findings were originally published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Previous studies have found that cherries have the potential to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, and reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Cherries also have been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss, and delay the aging process, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute.