We have a special guest blog post today by our So Cal friend Marcela De Vivo!
Marcela is a freelance writer with particular interest in naturopathic health and wellness. Today she explores superfood sources for athletes and the particular benefits these foods bring to those requiring superior nutrition (we obviously love this topic). And two of the superfoods she highlights happen to be Barre ingredients! I always find it both useful and refreshing to get new ideas on healthy food combinations, so I enjoyed reading Marcela’s thoughts on the topic (below) and think you will too.
Happy healthy (and delicious) eating!
The Best Superfoods For Athletes
“Superfoods” are all the rage these days, with healthy eaters everywhere making efforts to incorporate them into their diets. If you still aren’t quite sure what a superfood is, they are simply foods that are extremely nutrient-rich and beneficial for the body.
While superfoods are healthy for everyone, they can provide an additional benefit to athletes that demand more from their bodies than most people.
Oatmeal with walnuts and bananas might just be the ultimate superfood breakfast.
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Oatmeal is ideal for those that love to get their workout in the morning. It’s packed with soluble fiber and complex carbs that will keep you full and give you energy without making you feel sluggish or heavy.
Top your oatmeal with fresh berries for an antioxidant boost. Additional antioxidant-rich mix-ins that you can add to your oatmeal include prunes, apples and raisins.
Blueberries are great with oatmeal, but they are also delicious as a healthy snack. Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation – something that’s especially important for individuals that are dedicated to their training.
Blueberries also make a great low-calorie snack since one cup only contains about 90 calories.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes might remind you of Thanksgiving, but they’re a superfood that you can eat all year-round. Beta-carotene rich foods like sweet potatoes give your body natural fuel through easy-to-break-down carbohydrates without spiking your blood sugar.
Just don’t top your sweet potatoes with a ton of butter and brown sugar.
High in vitamin E, fiber and essential minerals, walnuts also provide antioxidants that reduce inflammation and repair free radical damage; however, walnuts are also calorically dense, so you don’t need to eat too many.
About 10 to 12 walnuts is about all that most people really need to eat as one serving.
5. Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers contain a considerable amount of the antioxidant vitamin C, which gets rid of free radicals in the body and helps improve overall bone health. Red bell peppers are also very low in calories and can be cooked in a variety of ways or eaten raw.
To gain the most health benefits from red bell peppers, lightly steam them or eat them raw.
Another antioxidant-rich food, cherries have been linked to reduce muscle pain in endurance athletes. So, if you bike, run or play a sport for long periods of time, eating cherries could help speed up your recovery time.
In addition to eating fresh cherries, sour cherry juice can also be very helpful for an athlete’s recovering body.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are nutrient-dense and fiber rich. In fact, they actually contains about three times the antioxidant content of blueberries. They’re also packed with protein, iron and calcium.
You can work chia seeds into your diet by adding them to your morning oatmeal or into your evening salad.
Kale, which is actually a member of the cabbage family, contains high levels of iron, calcium, vitamin A, K and B6. It’s also high in antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation.
Use kale for salads as a replacement to regular lettuce. Don’t forget to add some chia seeds and red bell peppers for an incredibly healthy low-calorie meal.
Kale is a nutrient-rich base you can use for salads instead of lettuce.
Image Courtesy of Flickr
Bananas are one of the best things that you can eat both before and after exercise as they are incredibly high in potassium and vitamin B6. Bananas also help with blood sugar levels and replace electrolytes that you lose while sweating.
Some evidence exists that bananas may also be able to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to their high B6 content.
10. Wild Salmon
Wild salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation while promoting optimal heart health and potentially reducing a person’s risk of developing cancer or having a stroke. Salmon is also high in protein, making it an excellent post-exercise main course.
When buying salmon, you will want to prefer wild salmon as it contains more omega-3 fatty acids than farmed salmon. If you can’t find it fresh in your local market, you may be able to find it in cans or order it from a local fishmonger.
As you can see, there are a variety of superfoods that are ideal for athletes, most of which are fairly common, easy to purchase and simple to add to your regular diet. Adding one or two of these foods to your diet each day will not only help you stay stronger and healthier, they may also help boost your athletic performance and help you get the most out of your workouts.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance health & wellness writer from Los Angeles. She specializes in a wide variety of topics, from fitness, medicine, alternative therapies, and special education. As a former athlete and exercise addict, she tries to eat these superfoods as much as possible!