Berry Good For You

We've heard and read over and again the benefits of eating a well-balanced whole food diet. And as athletes, we are probably more in tune than the general population in respect to the benefits of protein, carbs, and fats, and the ideal proportions of each to maximize our performance. Yet what you may not be aware of is that eating meals comprised of protein, carbs and fat can trigger something called "oxidative stress" during the digestive process. This oxidative stress produces "free radicals," a type of molecule which left unchecked has been associated with increased risk of various chronic conditions and accelerated aging. Have no fear however; researchers from the US Department of Agriculture have come up with a simple solution that is much better and better for your performance than to stop eating.

Over a series of 5 clinical trials, USDA scientists found that consuming antioxidant-rich foods during your meals can blunt the negative effects of oxidative stress. Subject pre- and post-meal blood samples showed increased oxygen radical absorption capacity when blueberries, grapes, cherries, and kiwi were eaten with meals. Dried plums and plum juice did not reduce oxidative stress, but blueberries proved particularly effective in their free-radical fighting ability.

The Bigger Picture: As an athlete, the last thing you want is something that will hinder performance, especially if it stems from within a well-planed performance-supporting eating plan. By adding some of nature's most potent natural antioxidants to your diet, not only can you quench some of those nasty free-radicals, but you can potentially increase your overall nutrition by adding additional vitamins, fiber, and energy-rich carbs. And there's a good chance you'll keep your taste buds happy too!
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