Blueberries are Powerhouses for Workout Recovery
If you have an important competitive athletic event in your future, you may want to consider adding blueberries to your diet. While known for their positive effects on blood pressure and mental health, this fruit has also been found to improve the rate of muscle recovery in female athletes.
Steve Stannard PhD, of the Massey School of Sport and Exercise in New Zealand, and colleagues recruited 10 female athletes to use a Biodex machine to create exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) in the quadriceps of one leg. The women were given blueberry smoothies five and 10 hours prior to exercise, immediately after using the Biodex, and again 12 and 36 hours after EIMD. Blood samples were drawn to measure oxidative stress, antioxidant levels and inflammation at 12, 36 and 60 hours after exercise.
After several weeks had passed, the test was repeated on the same athletes, on the other leg, but the smoothie given during the same time intervals was non-blueberry, but with similar antioxidant levels.
Blueberries appeared to improve the rate of recovery in the women’s leg muscles in just 60 hours after exercise. Contracting and extracting strength of the quadriceps was also improved.
Blueberries are known for their high antioxidant content which neutralize oxidative damage that lead to tissue destruction. Anthocyanin, a flavonoid that gives the fruit its color, has been linked to many health benefits, including anti-cancer effects and neuroprotective benefits.
But the researchers here believe blueberries have unique health-promoting properties beyond just the antioxidant compounds. Both smoothies appeared to reduce oxidative stress as measured in the blood samples. The team believes that the nutritional components may be interacting with the body’s own antioxidant production, leading to improved rate of recovery.
In addition to antioxidants, blueberries are a valuable source of vitamins. In just one serving, a single cup, you can get 14 mg of vitamin C - almost 25 percent of your daily requirement.
The US Highbush Blueberry Council has a wealth of blueberry recipes to the seasonal fruit to your daily menus.
Yanita McLeay, Matthew J Barnes, Toby Mundel, Suzanne M Hurst, Roger D Hurst and Stephen R Stannard. Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012, 9:19 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-19