Here are 4 foods currently on ‘eats for athletes’ list, the research behind why they deserve a place on your training table, and simple, healthy ways to take advantage of their benefits.
Eat one cup of blueberries. Do this every day. Have a lower risk of hypertension
and cardiovascular disease.
That’s the utterly straightforward message from the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging and a team of nutrition and exercise scientists at Florida State University. Researcher Sarah A Johnson, PhD, RD, and colleagues gave female subjects the equivalent of one cup of blueberries (in the form of freeze-dried blueberry powder) daily for eight weeks. At the end of the study, participants showed significant improvements in blood pressure and arterial stiffness compared to those taking a placebo.
Here’s the key data: a 5.1 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure, a 6.3 percent decrease in diastolic blood pressure, an average reduction of 6.5 percent in arterial stiffness and a 68.5 percent increase in blood levels of nitric oxide (which, as sawy supplement users know, is involved in widening blood vessels). The blueberry has been touted as a superfood for many years due to its impressive antioxidant content. This study provides yet another reason to add this “functional food,” as Johnson calls it, to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.
Recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that subjects who snacked on 1.5 ounces of almonds daily experienced improved levels of multiple cardiovascular risk factors – including lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol and decreased central adiposity (belly fat) – compared to those who ate a banana muffin with equal calories instead.
Another Journal of the American Heart Associationpublished study showed that eating one Hass avocado a day as part of a moderate-fat diet was better at lowering LDL and total cholesterol, as well as blood triglyceride levels, than low- and moderate-fat diets without avocados. Researchers believe these findings are likely because of the monounsaturated fatty acids, and possibly the fiber and phytosterols, present in avocados.
We’re talking about foods such as oatmeal, brown rice and 1 00 percent whole-wheat products. Data from two long-term studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine associated higher intake of whole grains with reduced cardiovascular and overall mortality risk. For every 28-gram serving of whole grains, mortality risk dropped by 5 percent.