Antioxidants for the Athlete

16.06.2015
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Antioxidants for the Athlete

How are antioxidants linked to performance? Physical activity brings on oxidative stress and tissue damage. Too much of this can have a negative impact on performance. Antioxidants can be helpful in reducing tissue damage and aid in post-workout recovery. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory food is recommended for all athletes, but don’t go overboard. Moderation is key! The form in which you take antioxidants also makes a difference.

It is best to get antioxidants in the form of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fatty fish. Antioxidants that come in the form of a pill or supplement can have excessively high concentrations and may cause more harm than good. In fact, too much antioxidants have been found to hinder the recovery process. Antioxidants in the form of whole foods are better absorbed and used within the body. Another good thing about getting antioxidants through whole foods rather than the supplement form is that whole foods also contain other beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Which food are naturally rich in antioxidants?

  • Berries: The deep blue, red, and purple color of these berries are from the antioxidant anthocyanin, which provide great benefits. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries are rich in these antioxidants.
    • Add your favorite berries to yogurt or blend into a smoothie. Mix a variety of fresh berries for a fruit salad.
    • Try this Berry Vanilla Fruit Salad recipe from Pumpkin ‘N Spice.
Berry fruit salad

Berry Vanilla Fruit Salad from Pumpkin n’ Spice

  • Sweet Potatoes: High in the antioxidant beta-carotene, sweet potatoes also have vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
    • Try roasting diced sweet potatoes with a small amount Cajun seasoning and add to a salad or rice and bean mixture.
    • This Crispy Sweet Potato Roast from Smitten Kitchen it a great option.
    • Not a fan of sweet potatoes? Carrots are also a source of antioxidants. Throw them in your next stir-fry or toss them in a salad.
  • Green Vegetables: Spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and broccoli are a few options. These contain a variety of antioxidants
    • Stay cool this summer with a fresh broccoli salad. Try roasting broccoli with a touch of salt and pepper.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts have a variety of antioxidants and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid.
    • Add chopped walnuts to chicken salad, a lettuce salad, or stir into yogurt. Walnut are also great when roasted with a touch of seasoning.
    • Try this Spiced Mayan Chocolate Coated Walnut recipe!

Spiced Walnuts

Incorporate these antioxidant rich food into your diet for a safe and natural way to get the benefits you need! Remember, moderation is key when it comes to the amount needed for muscle recovery. What is your favorite antioxidant rich food?

Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and is quoted in a variety of media including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

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