We have all heard about raw, uncooked foods, their benefits and why we should eat them.
The trouble is not many people actually know how to optimise their intake of raw foods. Overcooking destroys many of the nutrients and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables. making it even more important that at least a portion of the foods we eat are raw or lightly cooked.
The first thing we need to know is that raw foods are not just packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants but they can also boost your digestion. Raw fruit and vegetables provide the essential nutrients we need to create the digestive enzymes that break down what we eat.
Our body also use these nutrients maintenance and regulation of adequate hormone levels. The phytochemicals in certain foods are essential for our bodies to function properly - simple as that. There is no escaping this – you will never achieve optimum health unless a portion of your diet comes from real, unadulterated food!
This is not to say we should only eat raw foods – cooking is essential to bring out the energy in food. Ideally you should aim for a mix of raw food along with gently cooked or steamed food to optimise vitamin and mineral content.
Here are 10 of the most important Foods for athletes:
1. Garlic - Contains Astaxanthin which is a Potent immune system enhancer and antioxidant. Great for after long hard winter training sessions.
2. Carrots - Contain Carotenoids which are Anti-Ageing/inflammatory compounds and packed with Vitamin A which helps fight cancer and promote recovery. Carrots also have many other benefits. Checkout this post….
3. Kiwi Fruits and Blueberries - Contain Lutein which is a Vision booster, It is essential for eye repair and development. It also works to protect and support the retina.
4. Apples – Contain Pectin which is an amazing type of fiber. It soothes the gut and helps fill you up, as well as being a potent anti-oxidant and helping the body deal with excess cholesterol.
5. Berries (All Sorts) – Contain Quercetin an Anti-inflammatory compound helping lower heart disease risk and lower incidence of cancer.
6. Brocolli and Cauliflower - Contain Glucosinolates which are Anti Cancer and liver friendly, helping us to process and digest toxins. In that they work to inhibit oestrogen and help your liver with the bodies detoxification.
7. Red Grapes, Acai Berry, Cranberries - Contain Anthocyanins which are another anti-inflammatory phytochemical which helps to soothe and regenerate the nervous system.
8. Oranges and other citrus fruits – contain Bio-Flavnoids which are potent immune boosters, and help to excrete heavy metals from the body. The extra Vitamin C makes citrus a life saver in the winter months.
9. Spinach, Broccoli, Greens. Are full of Zeanxanthin another potent anti-oxidant and like Lutein acts to prevent age related eye disorders.
10. Strawberries and Raspberries – Are packed with Ellagic Acid which neutralises free radicals before they can damage the DNA. Making berries a perfect addition to your post workout smoothie.
Get creative when using these foods – you will find that many can be implemented into dishes you are already cooking. For instance adding berries to yogurt or chopped apple to your oatmeal. Garlic is often forgotten while cooking, make sure to add it at the end of cooking so it doesn’t get overcooked and lose its benefits. It can even be grated into salad dressing or over meat and fish. Make sure all the vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are lightly steamed – this will keep the raw benefits but help with digestion.
If you train hard or just want better health these foods are invaluable to your performance and recovery!