Get to Know Your Superfoods

Six superfoods, plus a recovery drink that uses four of them

Get to know theses six superfoods     Photo: Tom Schierlitz; Liz West/Flickr, Randy Mayor, Eising FoodPhotography, Sang An, Adam Pieniazek/Flickr,

Not everything we eat is created equal. Kelli Jennings of Apex Nutrition recommends keeping these staples on hand to fire up your performance.

Avocados

The fruit's healthy fats help with bone mass, increase calcium and absorption of vitamin A antioxidants, and are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. They're also rich in phytochemicals, which may diminish cellular UV damage.

Serving Suggestions: Stir up some guacamole or dice over salads; also, try cooking with avocado oil, which has the highest smoking point of any plant-based oil.

Almonds

The nuts contain resveratrol, a natural anti-inflammatory, and lots of electrolytes (99 milligrams of magnesium, 257 milligrams of potassium, and 75 milligrams of calcium in a quarter cup) to help fight muscle fatigue and cramping. They've also been proven to inhibit LDL cholesterol from clogging arteries by as much as 50 percent.

Serving Suggestions: Always buy almonds with the skins on (they contain many of the nutrients), and add them to smoothies or eat them straight; try substituting almond flour for wheat flour in waffles and sweet breads.

Coconut Oil

Organic extra-virgin coconut oil has a high percentage of medium-chain triglycerides, healthy fats that are otherwise hard to get (think breast milk). They promote heart health, help stabilize blood sugar, and are an excellent energy source, digesting easily and providing quick-burning fuel.

Serving Suggestions: Stir-fry with it, use it as a butter substitute, or swallow a tablespoon after training.

Honey

The bees' nectar is the ideal carb for workouts. It provides both fructose and sucrose, and its low glycemic index makes for slower, steadier energy release. Honey also promotes muscle retention during recovery and, in raw form, contains enzymes that aid in digestion. 

Serving Suggestions: Mix with peanut butter for a perfect pre-race boost, or dissolve in milk for recovery smoothies.

Whey Protein

A by-product of cheese production, whey protein can help you retain muscle when used immediately after strenuous training. Look for whey supplements marked undenatured, which provide the raw materials for cells to build glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.

Serving Suggestions: Mix a scoop of unsweetened whey—we like Natural Factor or Bluebonnet—into yogurt, oats, or shakes.

Kale

Not only does the leafy green have anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties, but its surplus of glucosinolates makes it one of the best detoxifiers around, helping to purge toxins created during exercise. 

Serving Suggestions: Steam as a side with dinner, toss into a stir-fry, or baste with olive oil and grill for a crispy snack.

Smooth Recovery

With four of our six superfoods plus strawberries—which have lots of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores and antioxidants to counteract exercised-induced tissue damage—this shake is as healthy and rejuvenating as it is delicious. Drink it within 30 minutes of a workout for maximum benefit.

Almond Butter Smoothie
Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 scoop (10 grams) undenatured whey protein
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (or 2 tablespoons almonds)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth, then add ice and blend again until thick and frothy. 

Nutritional Info: 370 cal, 42 g carb, 14 g protein

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