Move over kale, the next generation of superfoods is here!
Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, these foods have been found to help boost your mental clarity, mood and energy. For recreational swimmers, including these ingredients in your diet will improve your general wellbeing as well as your performance and energy levels in the pool.
If you’re looking to overhaul your performance in the water, then pack your cupboard with the following superfoods. If you need some help finding the best ways to eat them, try incorporating them into some tasty and easy-to-make recipes or swap the superfoods for a similar ingredient. The recipes themselves are healthy and nutritious, so making meals from this list will still complement your swim training.
Moringa is a nutrient-dense superfood sourced from the moringa tree. It is rich in vitamin C (containing seven times the amount found in oranges), protein, iron, potassium, vitamin A, essential amino acids and antioxidants. Studies have shown that it can help reduce blood sugar levels, improve the immune system, prevent anaemia, protect the liver and fight obesity. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties also make it great for warding off infection.
Moringa is really versatile – you can steep it in hot water to make tea, or add it to salad dressings, baked goods, smoothies, soups or guacamole.
You might be thinking, isn’t hemp something you make clothes out of? That’s true, but it’s the seeds of the hemp plant (which are technically nuts) that are edible, and they’re ridiculously nutritious. They are chock full of vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc) as well as high-quality protein and fatty acids. They may also reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your skin health and aid with PMS and menopause symptoms.
Hemp seeds have a gentle, nutty flavour and are great raw or cooked. Sprinkle them over your salad or add them to smoothies and yoghurt.
Maqui berries are great at reducing inflammation in the brain and body due to their high levels of antioxidants. Studies suggest that they may also help protect against heart disease, aid in blood sugar control, improve your gut health, and help with eye health and diabetes.
As a bonus, these South American berries simply taste delicious. Eat them raw as a snack, or add them to cakes, smoothies or smoothie bowls.
Good news for sushi lovers – seaweed is really good for you! Some of its many nutrients include zinc, magnesium, iodine, calcium and vitamins A & C; these are essential for proper thyroid function and maintaining a healthy weight, mood and energy level. Seaweed works wonders in salads, soups, grain bowls and even roast dinners.
To let you in on a little secret, tiger nuts aren’t technically nuts – they’re tubers (nuts just sounds more appetising). They are rich in monounsaturated fats, digestion-aiding enzymes and insoluble fibre, as well as the amino acid arginine, which helps control blood sugar. You can eat them raw as snack, drink them as milk, use its flour in baking, or add them to cereal and yoghurt.
Cassava flour contains resistant starch which is high in a kind of fibre that boosts your beneficial gut bacteria and improves your digestive health. The starch also lowers inflammation, controls blood sugar and promotes weight loss. It’s great for people with certain allergies due to it being free of gluten, grains and nuts. Simply swap your plain flour for cassava in your muffins, cakes, churros and bread.
If you’re tired of eating sauerkraut, try kefir. This fermented milk drink is made by mixing cow or goat’s milk with kefir grains. This results in a tart, creamy taste – similar to a yoghurt drink. Kefir is a stronger probiotic than yoghurt due to its high amount of good bacteria. It also has strong antibacterial properties, and has been found to improve bone health (whilst warding off osteoporosis), as well as aiding with digestion and allergy symptoms.
As the name suggests, pecan milk is made from the pecan nut. Its surge in popularity is a result of its high antioxidant content (higher than any other tree nut) and its wealth of nutrients. It’s great for reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer, improving digestion and satiety, as well as boosting immunity and skin health. Its high magnesium content makes it great at reducing inflammation and improving sleep quality, which is essential for swimmers to perform at their best.
You might not have given this root vegetable much thought before, but it turns out that beetroot is a pretty great superfood. It provides a high range of nutrients (almost every vitamin and mineral you need) in just a few kilojoules, as well as offering anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. It also helps reduce your blood pressure levels, which in turn reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. Beetroot is also linked to improved athletic performance due to its high energy production.
Beetroot can be consumed as a juice, tea, or added to smoothies, salads, baked goods, burgers, sandwiches and roast dinners.
Turmeric is another great superfood for swimmers due to its potent anti-inflammatory compounds, namely curcumin. This spice can help with a myriad of health conditions, such as gastrointestinal issues, inflammation, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. It is also rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamins, minerals and fibre, and it can help boost your immunity.
There are a range of ways to get turmeric in your diet, including adding it to smoothies, lattes, teas, soups, frittatas, roast dinners and curries.
As it turns out, there’s really no need to spit out your watermelon seeds – they’re super nutritious! Since they are rich in fibre, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, folate and healthy fats, watermelon seeds can boost heart health as well as lower blood pressure. They are actually the healthiest when they have sprouted, so you may want to soak them in water overnight and wait a few days before eating them in order to get the most nutrients out of them. Watermelon seeds can also be roasted with olive oil and sea salt for a yummy snack.
Giving your mind and body a boost with these clean, wholesome superfoods is a great way to improve your energy and, consequently, your swimming performance.