Fruits are great sources of nutrition, packed with energy-boosting carbs and natural sugars. They’re also high in fiber, so they’re easy to digest and won’t have a negative effect on your performance if you eat them right before exercising.
Fresh berries – including blue blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries – are on the USDA’s list of the 20 foods that are richest in antioxidants. What does that mean? They can protect your muscle from free radical damage that can be caused by exercise.
They’re also known to help enhance your mood. You won’t get the crash you get from eating artificial sugars since they are high in fiber, but you’ll still get that kick you need! Eaten as part of a healthy diet, they can help you think more clearly.
Even better, berries are low maintenance. Give them a wash, and they’re ready to take with you to the gym, park, or wherever you’re going to work out. If you’re buying them from the store, make sure to opt for the organic variety to avoid nasty pesticides, and consider going frozen if they are out of season, since the “fresh” berries at the store may be shipped from far away and end up flavorless.
If you’re sick of just eating your berries straight-up, try this black, red, and blue super food recipe to provide a boost for your body and your mind before or after your next workout.
Black, Red, and Blue Super Food Salad
2 mangos, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup low fat raspberry vinaigrette
8 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup strawberries, halved
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans
3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine 1 mango and the vinaigrette in a blender until liquefied.
- Toss the other mango, baby spinach, cilantro, and onion, and drizzle with the dressing.
- Top with the berries, pecans, and Parmesan cheese.
- Serve cold.
Other Easy Variations to Add Berries to Your Diet:
- Add fresh berries to a yogurt snack for a one-two punch of carbs for energy and protein for building muscles.
- Make a fruit compote by combining berries with sugar and fennel. Then refrigerate and serve cold.
- Use a pre-prepared crust to make a simple pie. For the filling, combine fruit with sugar and cornstarch, and then cook at medium-low heat until thickened.
- Blend berries, fat-free yogurt, and milk for an easy fruit shake.
- Stuff Portobello mushrooms with berries, asparagus, feta, and walnuts.
- Put berries on skewers and drizzle them with a little antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
- Make a fruit salsa with berries, nectarines, lime juice, chopped mint, and a little honey. Serve with whole wheat crackers.
- Add berries and almonds to cooked quinoa.
- Make a kale salad and add berries to create another super food salad.
About the Author:
Joyce Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Nutrition Courses and Personal Training Courses. When not working, Joyce blogs about health and fitness.