Beets have stamped history dating back to Ancient Rome and Greek Mythology. The average beet contains 20 times more "miracle molecules" (or dietary nitrates) than any other vegetable, yet what is most remarkable is the striking and unusual mix of antioxidants they contain. The performance related benefits of beets are unparalleled. Using oxygen more efficiently, increasing blood flow, and enhancing blood vessel dilation, are just a few ways beets can help increase power, extend endurance, quicken speed, reduce pain, and shorten muscle recovery.
It is said that the perfect blueberry is "dusty" in color. There are a wide variety of phytonutrients in blueberries, delivering the whole body with antioxidant support and cardiovascular benefits. By lessening the risk of oxidative stress, blueberries offer cognitive benefits and keep nerve cells working smoothly.
A vibrant super-charged, root vegetable long known for its Vitamin A content and vision-related benefits. Carrots are packed with β-carotene, which is a powerful detoxifier. A recent study suggests β-carotenes have been found to "prevent cognitive decline" if taken regularly and can thus keep you dialed in to achieving your training goals. Carrots are packed to capacity with essential vitamins; Vitamin K, in particular, is key player in promoting overall bone health.
To award athletes in ancient Greece, celery was used as a "bouquet of flowers." Celery contains an active compound called phthalides which has been proven to boost circulatory health, and incidentally, the magnesium and essential oil celery contains soothes the nervous system. Celery can reduce joint pain due to anti-inflammatory components, and will regulate the body's alkaline balance. Positive acid/alkaline balance has been said to be one of the most important factors in athletic performance; more specifically, athletes in peak training are most affected by acidosis when vigorous exercise creates stress and muscle trauma.
Dubbed "Mother Nature's sports drink," coconut water is super hydrating and can prevent muscles from cramping even in the hottest conditions. A study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise concludes that while athletes generally prefer the taste of sports drinks, coconut water replenishes the body's fluids as well as a sports drink and better than water. For strenuous activity, keep coconut water close.
Cultivated for the last 3,000 years, cucumber was likely introduced to Europe by the Greeks or Romans. Cucumber can keep your body cool, flush out toxins, and provide mineral-rich benefits to the body. Cucumber variations produced in the United States are aptly named Dasher, Conquistador, Slicemaster, Victory, Comet, and Sprint (among others). Cucumbers contain a coveted list of phytonutrients, including flavonoids, curcurbitcains, and lignins. Deliver all of these benefits to your body, and serve the competition with an ice-cold dish of victory.
Native to India, Ginger has been used for centuries to ignite the digestive process and unlock powerful enzymes that improve nutrient absorption. Ginger is a potent antioxidant with a strong punch. It has a long list of health benefits and will work to enhance circulation and optimize endurance. This ancient root will aide in muscle recovery and reduce pain by blocking the formation of inflammatory compounds.
Kale continues to be one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet, and has been studied in relationship to cancer fighting agents. A descendant of wild cabbage, Kale's impressive list of performance-promoting profits includes B-vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamins C and A (to only name a few). The Chlorophyll in Kale releases carbon dioxide, increasing oxygen levels in the body. Kale can speed up the development of new tissue, promote faster healing, reduce inflammation, and extend endurance. High in Nitrates (a.k.a "the miracle molecule") and a natural antioxidant, this premium leaf is packed with fuel for competitive fire.
Offering up a huge dose of Vitamin C, lemons are a natural fighter of free radicals. In addition to the several other nourishing elements like vitamin B6, vitamin e, vitamin A, folate, and niacin, lemon juice has antiseptic agents and natural medications that can aide in foot relaxation on hard-training days. Additionally, the potassium contained in lemons will work to alleviate dizziness, nausea, mental stress, and depression. Lemon juice has a natural calming effect on the mind and body, and combined with its aromatic punch, lemons can offer all-encompassing zest/ stimulation to the athletic body.
In Mexico, mint is called Yerba Buena, or "good herb." A natural stimulant, mint can charge the endurance battery and promote high-level brain function. Mint and its derivative essential oils will elevate energy levels and sooth respiratory channels. Mint is extremely effective in helping digestion and is also used to temper nausea and motion sickness.
Sometimes described as "the miracle tree," Moringa's fast growing-interest and long-proven medicinal value have made it the new "holy grail" of health food. As noted in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Moringa leaves "exhibit strong antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to major biomolecules, and give significant protection against oxidative damage." Moringa is rich in a myriad of health-enhancing compounds, and the performance benefit of such compounds can help gain the competitive edge.
Pea protein is an animal free protein powder that is high in BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), and can help keep your body in the muscle-building zone for longer. Pea protein will reduce hunger by releasing hormones between meals, while simultaneously energizing training. It is easily digestible, lactose free, gluten-free, and 100% vegan.
Originally from South America, pineapple spread around the world by way of ship. Sailors who suffered Scurvy (a disease resulting from a Vitamin C deficiency) were given the vitamin and mineral rich fruit to cure their ailment. Pineapple has anti-inflammatory qualities and thus can alleviate muscular pain while improving bone health. Because of its Bromelain content, Pineapple is a strong digestive neutralizer and will boost the body's natural restorative process.
A favorite of India and Eastern Europe, this vegetarian protein is now recognized as a Super Food. Build lean muscle and take in the Omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. In addition to antioxidants that keep the metabolic pathways running smoothly, pumpkin protein contains several vitamins including C, D, E, and K. Minerals include zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Raspberries contain extreme diversity in phytonutrients, providing a specialized team of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Additionally, raspberries contain rheosmin, which has been found to increase enzyme activity and boost metabolism. Particularly when organic and harvested ripe, raspberries can improve the body's ability to process fat cells and ward off oxidative stress and unwanted inflammation. With total of over 80 nutrients found in raspberries, the overall health and performance positives can't be denied.
Reishi Mushrooms, found in nature on plum trees, were extremely hard to find for thousands of years and were therefore only consumed by royalty in China and Japan. Reishi mushrooms, a central depressant, can prompt the nervous system to aid in muscle relaxation. Along with the oxidative stress benefits and anti-inflammatory components, researchers have identified that one of the active ingredients, water-soluble polysaccharides, is active in lowering blood pressure and modulating the immune system.
Recent clinical research has revealed that rice protein can increase lean muscle growth and aid in recovery after exercise just as well as whey protein. Additionally, rice protein contains essential amino acids that cannot be produced naturally by the human body.
In the 1930s, Popeye was credited with the 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. Spinach, which is a member of the goosefoot family, is actually a relative to beets. The vitamin K in spinach assists in the process that prevents calcium from forming in muscle tissue. The magnesium found in spinach helps replenish lost energy in seconds, and the zinc keeps the body stress free and allows for better rest at night. Spinach also contains powerful antioxidants and invigorating anti-inflammatory benefits.
Researchers have found that a common serving of strawberries ranks 3rd in "total antioxidant capacity" among all U.S. foods. Strawberries are an excellent way for athletes to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. They are a sensible source of dietary fiber, nitrate-rich, and a central nervous system booster. Strawberries can prevent muscle fatigue and optimize endurance while also keeping electrolyte balance in check.
Known for the fire of its digestive warmth, turmeric contains the active ingredient, Curcumin. Curcumin is an unmatched anti-inflammatory substance that lowers inflammation on a molecular level. Turmeric is a free-radical fighting inflammation, blasting the body with an army of internal "fighters" whilst stimulating the body's own antioxidant enzymes. Bow down, free radicals. Bow down.