The benefits of regular physical exercise include a reduced risk of a variety of diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes along with weight loss and improved cellular function. But during exercise, your body can become imbalanced in its oxidant and antioxidant levels, a condition known as oxidative stress. Antioxidants are found in foods including fruits, vegetables and nuts that help fight damage caused by free radicals to reduce wrinkles, disease and infection and may help you look younger but did you know that antioxidants also assist your body in the recovery phase of exercise?
During exercise, the body creates reactive oxygen species (ROS) at an accelerated rate which can cause adverse effects on health and well being. Because even moderate exercise can create an increase of ROS, the body’s antioxidant defenses can be depleted. ROS have been shown in studies to induce damage in all cellular molecules including lipids, proteins and DNA. (1)
Foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants can help reduce cellular damage caused during exercise. The antioxidant value of antioxidant-rich foods is expressed in Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity units, (ORAC) a system developed by National Institute on Aging in the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Foods that have an especially high ORAC score (over 9,000) include:
- Cocoa powder
- Acai Berry Fruit
- Turmeric (a spice)
- Black Raspberries
- Ginger Root
Want to know the ORAC Value of your favorite foods? Go here!
For an explanation of how antioxidants work, watch this short video:
The process your body undergoes during exercise lasts far longer than just your workout. The muscle recovery phase can be optimized with a post-workout snack containing large amounts of protein and antioxidants for maximum muscle development, and cellular free radical protection. Since ROS destabilize muscle tissue and degrade muscle proteins to the point of cellular death, eating antioxidant-rich foods can help reverse oxidative stress. Try some antioxidant packed snacks today, they’re filled with nutrients including protein and are packed with antioxidants for the perfect post-workout snack.
Finding new and delicious ways to get more of these foods into your diet is easy. Check out the SkinnyMs. Slow Cooker Cookbook for tons of recipes filled with healthy, antioxidant-rich foods like this Blueberry Banana Smoothie recipe!