Mad About Food and Fitness
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD/
Mar 1st, 2017
With the big March college basketball tournament quickly approaching, now is good of time as any to start incorporating foods with anti-inflammatory action! Sports, basketball especially with the quick changes in direction, can have a major impact on your joints. Luckily, sports nutritionist research has been shedding some light on foods that might improve performance, speed up recovery and build muscle mass, all while reducing fatigue, muscle soreness and inflammation.
Team Up with Turmeric, Tart Cherries and Berries
Antioxidants and phytochemicals found in turmeric, cherries and various berries may aid in recovery and help protect athletes (and non-athletes!) against stress and inflammation after a hard workout or training session. Purple and red fruits and vegetables contain a powerful group of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant compounds. For example there is evidence linking tart cherry juice to a reduction of oxidative stress, inflammation and muscle soreness. This Cherry Vanilla Recovery Smoothie could not be more perfect for a post-workout snack!
Curcumin, a yellow coloring agent found in turmeric, shows strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the body. More needs to be known but it may even have the potential to prevent muscle damage and improve exercise performance! Try this Vanilla Chai Recovery Shake, featuring turmeric after your next workout. Your muscles will thank you!
Select Smart Carbs
Basketball is a high intensity sport with long playing times. Athletes in sports like this have high calorie and carbohydrate needs just to fuel the sport. It’s vital that they mostly choose calories and carbohydrate foods that come from anti-inflammatory whole foods instead of processed grains and junk foods which can have a pro-inflammatory effect in the body. Try this Roast Beef, Sun-Dried Tomato & Cheddar Wrap for a powerful punch of post-workout whole grains plus protein!
Recover with the Right Fats
Choosing smart fats like fish and plant-based omega-3s (ground flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, eggs) and foods with monounsaturated fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, extra virgin olive oil) over foods with trans-fat or high amounts of saturated fat can help improve your heart and vascular system. This Lemon Walnut Tuna Wrap is the perfect way to sneak healthy fats into your diet!
Power Up with Quality Protein
Although protein is not a major source of energy during exercise, it is a key factor in the repair and recovery of your muscles! Some evidence suggests the protein in dairy and lean beef are the most effective in muscle growth, maybe due to the high amount of the amino acid, leucine, thought to “turn on” the muscle building process. Other perfect protein sources include fish, lean meat, eggs and soy. Try these Oven-Baked Coconut Chicken Strips with Turmeric Dipping Sauce for a tasty and lean source of protein.
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