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You've undoubtedly heard it again and again: fruit is good for your health. And with summer on its way, it's all the more tempting to eat it. But how exactly is it good for your health? And what's better: fresh or frozen, whole or blended? As a runner, what fruit should you eat to stay fit and well? We've got all the answers.
1. WHY EAT FRUIT?
The beneficial effects of fruit on your health are thanks to the huge quantities of protective elements it contains: vitamins, fibres, trace elements, minerals and antioxidants that protect our cells. Fruit will provide ample amounts of the nutrients you need to stay in shape.
It provides hydration, plays an anti-inflammatory role, and helps with muscle recovery. Fruit is a secret weapon for runners in particular because it is packed with antioxidants that will help fight against cramps, aches and pains and muscle fatigue. So all the more reason to stock up on it!
Uncooked, cooked or in juices: however it's prepared, it is recommended you consume two to three portions of fruit a day.
2. THE THREE MAIN BENEFITS OF FRUIT FOR RUNNING:
Red fruits (strawberries, raspberries, cranberries etc.) and black fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants etc.) contain the most antioxidants, as long as they are uncooked. They are delicious served with some fromage blanc or soya yoghurt - add some oats for a nutritious breakfast!
Fruit contains plenty of water, and therefore helps rehydrate the body. It is packed with minerals and trace elements, and so it is perfect for replenishing the stores used during exercise. It also contains vitamins, particularly vitamin C. However, vitamin C is destroyed when exposed to light, so you shouldn't wait too long before you eat it.
A source of fibre
Fibre plays an important role in digestive mechanisms and therefore is an effective way to improve digestion. The shock waves during running can sometimes provoke intestinal pains. Fibre can therefore help protect your intestines.
3. HOW SHOULD YOU CONSUME FRUIT?
Remember, a smoothie is a drink made of blended whole fresh fruit: in essence, a fruit in drink form. There's no added sugar in a smoothie. Fruit should already be sweet enough thanks to the naturally occurring sugar. That is why it is important to find good-quality base ingredients: ripe, fresh or frozen fruit. A quality frozen strawberry will always be better than a sad "fresh" strawberry out of season, with no smell or taste... and especially, no vitamins! You can also jazz up your smoothie with vegetables or herbs.
With this in mind, it's up to you how to consume your fruit: a pure fruit smoothie, a fruit salad, or fruit paired with yoghurt or milk, a soya yoghurt, or even sorbet.
Fruit juices are made of pressed fruit, not blended (like smoothies), which removes all the fibre, unless you also use the pulp. This makes them very refreshing and packed with water, but juices don't contain any fibre unlike smoothies. They are less satisfying and often contain more sugar...
4. FRUIT: FRESH OF FROZEN?
Obviously, you can never beat perfectly ripe fresh fruit. But, in certain cases, frozen fruit may contain more vitamins and antioxidants than its fresh counterpart that has been refrigerated for three or more days.
Fresh fruit is often picked before it's completely ripe. Transport and storage can take between three days and twelve months depending on the product. This kind of treatment slows down the potential development of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
As for frozen fruit, it is usually picked when perfectly ripe. It is often cleaned, blanched, frozen and packaged only a few hours after being picked. Blanching the fruit may cause a loss of antioxidants, such as vitamins B and C. However, the nutritional values stay relatively stable after freezing.
To sum up: the best option is to eat fruit picked directly on a farm or from your garden, as long as you eat it soon after picking. However, if you shop at the supermarket, frozen fruit and vegetables are just as good, or better, than fresh products, from a nutritional point of view. The ideal way to consume fruit is to alternate fresh and frozen to get the maximum amount of nutrients.
5. WHAT'S THE BEST FRUIT FOR RUNNERS?
Their qualities? Potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. They also contain many vitamins (B6 and C), which makes them an effective weapon against fatigue and reduces the risks of cramps. Bananas are one of the fruits that provide the most energy, so they are ideal for eating during long exercise sessions, as well as during recovery. Their bonuses: they are a great addition to smoothies, and easy to transport and eat as they are.
Recipe: Blend together a banana, 100 g of stoned cherries and a teaspoon of vanilla extract with oat milk and a plain yoghurt.
Its main benefit: the high quantity of vitamin C it contains. One kiwi fruit can cover all your daily vitamin C requirements! Therefore it is one of the fruits that offers the most antioxidants. So it goes without saying that they are highly recommended for sports players.
Recipe: Blend together two kiwi fruit, two oranges, a tablespoon of lemon juice and one tablespoon of honey.
Grapes contain plenty of sugar, and therefore provide lots of energy, making them ideal for recovery. Polyphenols, which are found particularly in black grapes, provide an antioxidant effect against the free radicals that are produced during exercise. Similarly, the large amount of water and potassium in grapes helps reduce cramps and aching.
Recipe: Blend together one bunch of black grapes, an apple, half a banana and some oat milk.
What about vegetables?
Most of its energy supply comes from carbohydrates, which is why it is so useful for runners. Purple beetroot is packed with vitamins B, A and C. It is also an excellent antioxidant.
Beetroot is useful for runners thanks to its high quantity of nitrates, which, once broken down by the body, play a vasodilation and oxygenation role that will provide oxygen to muscles, and therefore improve performances.
Recipe: Blend together one raw beetroot, three carrots, two kale leaves, a pinch of ground ginger, a lemon and a clove of garlic.
A precious source of vitamin A, which is essential for healing muscle cells after training! They are also rich in antioxidants.
Recipe: Blend together one carrot, one bunch of celery, one apple, a quarter of a pineapple and a pinch of ginger
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Eating clean means to consume products that are close to their natural form, minimally processed, or not processed at all. This helps you to feed your body with the right kind of nutrients and vitamins minus the preservatives.