Superfoods, quite a favorite term amongst fitness enthusiasts and dieticians these days, essentially refer to foods that are packed with nutrients and natural goodness, and whose consumption have proven long-term benefits for the body. In the case of runners and endurance athletes, for whom food anyway acts as a source of fuel, raw materials and energy, superfoods refer simply to those particular ingredients that energize your workouts and keep cells and tissues working optimally. And no, we aren’t talking about Red Bull or any other energy drinks.
The best news is that not all superfoods are exotic or expensive items that would require you to go out of your way. You can get most of these on your weekly shopping runs. Here are 7 simple foods that you can source locally and add to your weekly diet.
With a high volume of Vitamins A and C along with pantothenic acid, the tart and bitter red grapefruit is armed with a whole load of goodness. Pantothenic acid is used by our bodies to convert proteins, carbs and fats into energy and is thus excellent for distance runners. Try out this delightful fruit by itself, or add it to a chicken or veggie salad (we recommend this recipe from Eating Well) for your Monday lunch.
A daily feature in the diets of most runners, bananas are chock-full of potassium and Vitamin B6, which act as an anti-inflammatory agent and keep heart diseases at bay. They also keep blood sugar under check, help regulate your digestive system and replenish your electrolytes after a heavy workout. Everyone has their favourite banana recipes but here’s a particularly easy one for nutty banana nuggets as a post-run snack.
For athletes, oatmeal is a godsend; it has a high fibre content, complex carbs and is a great source of protein, which ensures the steady release of energy that runners require. Along with low glycemic content, oatmeal also provides Vitamin B and antioxidants; it keeps cholesterol levels under check and is nourishing for physically demanding lifestyles. Get rid of those midweek blues with this delicious and simple oats upma breakfast.
Rich in vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes contain powerful antioxidants that work in removing free radicals from the body. They help lower blood pressure and are high in vitamin and mineral content. The potassium, iron, manganese and copper they provide are all crucial for athletes, while manganese and copper aid in healthy muscle function. Get some carbs and flavours in your Thursday with these apple and sweet potato hash browns.
Walnuts are rich in fibre, vitamin B, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and they also contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut. Walnuts have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, are beneficial for a healthy heart and are great for on-the-go hunger pangs. Satiate your sweet tooth with this delicious Friday dessert of sticky date and walnut pudding, courtesy Best Health magazine.
These unassuming fruits are loaded with Vitamin C, along with thiamin and folate. Thiamin in lemons helps transform carbs into energy and is consequently really good for runners. Apart from using lemon juice in your smoothies and salads, you can also opt for whole pieces in your main courses such as this almond and lemon crusted fish with spinach, perfect for a lazy Saturday lunch.
A seasonal blessing no doubt but strawberries are exceptionally beneficial for runners. They contain anthocyanins, which can help repair muscles and fight inflammation. Strawberries are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that promote health and performance in all kinds of ways. Make the most of strawberry season with this unforgettable beet and strawberry smoothie alongside an indulgent Sunday brunch.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean having the same salad or veggie meal every day. You can bring in a bit of variety in your diet for well-rounded nutrition, and you can always juggle these superfoods around through the week for more flexibility.