Healthy and Energetic Superfoods for Athletes

There are certain foods—fruits, vegetables and grains—that are like superheroes for your body. Chock full of nutrients, these superfoods offer incredible health benefits. Move over Superman, Wonder Woman and Hulk, because Bionic Blueberry, Super Salmon and Man of Steel-Cut Oats have superpowers all their own!

Superfoods aren’t just the latest buzz-worthy health craze. The powers of superfoods are real…they just happen to be hidden in vitamin and mineral form. In an article on Livescience called “What Are Superfoods” writer Christopher Wanjek explores the hype over these nutrient-rich foods.

In an interview with Wanjek for Livescience, Despina Hyde, a registered dietician, explained that while superfoods don’t have their own ‘food group,’ they do offer numerous benefits for the body. Superfoods are often high in many vitamins and minerals that, Hyde said, “can help us ward off diseases and live a longer, healthier life.”

However, there are no dietary recommendations for consuming superfoods. And while superfoods are indeed beneficial for the body, the body needs a mix of foods to stay healthy and well.

According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet should include “a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lowfat dairy products, skinless protein and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.”

Of course, exercise and physical activity also are imperative to good health. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes per week of heavier exercise (like sports!). A combination of healthy foods and fitness will help the body stay well.

While nutrient-rich superfoods will give the body a healthy boost of vitamins and minerals, a balanced diet also is ideal for good health.  To integrate superfoods into your diet, check out the attached infographic for a list of all the superfoods that boost your health…and taste great! You might be surprised at the superhero foods that rest on your plate!

Vitamin C

There are surprising benefits of Vitamin C. These include maintaining healthy blood pressure, protecting against cancer and even preventing asthma. You can find Vitamin C in acai and blueberries, which can be added to your children’s cereal or yogurt. Other foods include leafy greens such as kale. One cup of cooked kale contains 1000% more Vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach!

A surprising Vitamin C-rich vegetable is cauliflower. Just one serving has 77% of your daily Vitamin C requirements! Although kids might turn their noses up at cauliflower, you can use it creatively in meals, such as by grating it onto delicious scrambled eggs.

B-Vitamins

It’s not just kids who need energy to run around on the playground; parents also need it when they’re leading busy lives. B-vitaminscreate energy and release it when the body requires it. They also produce red blood cells so oxygen can be carried to all parts of the body. Some good Vitamin B sources include:

  • Eggs. Not just essential for protein, eggs contain all the B-vitamins your body needs.Choose organic eggs for higher nutrient content and less risk of contaminated feed.
  • Steel-cut oats. These oats contain good amounts of B-vitamins, such as B6 for brain development; B1, B2 and B3 to convert carbohydrates into glucose for energy; and folate for the production of red and white blood cells. Folate is especially essential during pregnancy, infancy and the teen years. Choose steel-cut oats as it undergoes less processing, preserving its nutrient content.
  • Greek yogurt. It has a range of B- vitamins, such as B1, B2 and B12. These sustain energy levels while protecting your cardiac and neurological systems. Add honey or fruit to yogurt to sweeten it for kids.
  • Quinoa. If you or your child suffers from migraines, quinoa can be a natural way to keep them at bay because it contains Vitamin B2 and magnesium. Vitamin B2 also supports cellular functions in the body.

Omega-3s

These fatty acids are vital for cognitive development in children. Omega-3s are also good for the heart – studies have found that people who eat two servings of fatty fish such as salmon twice a week have lower heart disease rates. Remember to feed the older members in your family omega-3s too, as these fight inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Other sources of omega-3s include walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds. A handful of chia seeds contains nine grams of fat, but five of them are omega-3s!

Important Antioxidants

Vitamin E protects the body and skin from free radical damage, and it can even reduce diabetes complications. Vitamin E coordinates the body’s cells so it’s vital for development, tissue repair and immunity. Some Vitamin E foods include:

Avocados. Spread them on toast for a tasty treat! Avocados contain monounsaturated fats which help eye and brain health in kids.

Polyphenols
Amazingly, polyphenols block enzymes that cancers require in order to grow.

  • The polyphenol found in tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the one most linked to cancer prevention. Green tea is also good for kids as it contains catechins that protect against flu, but limit caffeinated beverages to one daily serving.
  • This is one superfood kids will love! Cocoa contains polyphenols, one of them being flavonoids which boost your heart and oral health. Choose products with at least 70 percent cocoa to reap their benefits.
  • Coconut and olive oils also contain polyphenols, but use them in small quantities as they’re calorie dense. Purchase virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil

About the Author:

Cassie Brewer lives in Southern California. Her passions are makeup/beauty and writing. She is a pet lover and has 3 dogs and 2 cats! Check out her website here and follow her on Twitter here!

About The Author

Staff Writer
One Million Skates is the official hockey publication of Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS). Together we strive to engage, educate and inspire Canada’s youth while celebrating hockey. Find out more

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