Nutrition for Athletes: Deactivating Free Radicals


Nutritional information specialized for athletes
is provided by registered dieticians
at Sansum Clinic of Santa Barbara.

For your good health

The world of greens has long been overshadowed by spinach and kale. It’s time to expose another green that gives spinach and kale a run for their money!

This green is not novel; it has been used to fuel the body since ancient times. Due to its nutrient profile, it has historically been used to alleviate depression, gastrointestinal distress, respiratory issues, urinary tract infections and acne.

This cruciferous vegetable is loaded with calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K, just to name a few. These nutrients help maintain growth and cell development including hair, nails, and skin. Its fiber promotes heart health and digestion. This food also maintains fluid balance and helps transport oxygen throughout the body.

This vegetable is a valuable food source for the athlete. It restores the body by deactivating free radicals.

What are free radicals?

Let’s take a step back.

Simply put – as a person exercises, he produces free radicals which can damage DNA. The antioxidants of this leafy green neutralize the free radicals. This allows the body to recover and prepare for the next training.

This benefit has been documented in a small research study published by the British Journal of Nutrition. The research demonstrated a difference between those who consumed the green and those that did not. The green eaters experienced less DNA damage and improved performance. It also noted that the athletes who consumed the leafy green prior to an event had the same benefits as those who integrated it into their diet on a daily basis.

What is it? WATERCRESS. This tangy leafy green is available in most supermarkets, year round. You can prepare it many ways. The natural pepper flavor bodes well in salads, soups, smoothies or as a garnish. To get started, try this fresh simple salad recipe.

—- Emily Luxford, MS, RD, Sansum Clinic

Watercress Salad Recipe
Serves 4

2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl white wine vinegar
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
Course salt and pepper to taste
2 Bunches watercress (12 oz each) trimmed
1/2 English cucumber halves lengthwise and thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add watercress and cucumber; toss to combine.
Serve immediately.

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