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Eat Red This Spring

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Decrease inflammation pre- and post-tennis with spring fruits and vegetables

By PAGE LOVE, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, USPTA

We all know that fruits and veggies are good for us, but did you know that red and purple fruits and veggies may help decrease your muscle soreness after tennis? The latest research shows that “eating red” with your produce selection increases your intake of one particular phytonutrient called anthocyanin, an anti-inflammatory nutrient, that helps decrease inflammation. So, as you enter spring/summer tennis season, start packing your day with more of these colorful choices to help your recovery routine. Aim to choose at least five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day for maximum benefit on your tennis performance.

Tips for incorporating red fruits and veggies into your pre- and post-tennis routine:

  1. Make a smoothie with the frozen fruits and veggies of your choice. Strawberries and cherries are good choices because they have the highest antioxidant content that will boost your metabolism and eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress.
  2. Shred beets into your salad, sandwich, or soup for a high source of antioxidants to fuel your performance on the court.
  3. Try eating raspberries as a pre-tennis snack, either blended in a smoothie, topped on yogurt, or on the side of a meal.
  4. Top your pasta, sandwich, soup, or chili with red bell peppers. One medium pepper provides you with your recommended value of Vitamin C and will load you up with the antioxidants you need for enhanced sports performance.
  5. Add in 100-percent dry fruit, such as cranberries, for a boost of energy.
  6. Have a tomato sauce-based recipe with a meal to incorporate the antioxidant lycopene. This antioxidant is more potent in cooked tomato products such as ketchup or tomato sauce.
  7. Enjoy a cool slice of watermelon while out on the court to keep yourself full and properly hydrated.
  8. Incorporate pomegranate or its seeds as a quick and nutritious snack.
  9. Pack an apple to munch on, have it as a side to a meal, or even try it as a dessert with some peanut butter or honey drizzled on top!
  10. Consider a cup of tart cherry juice as a pre- or post-performance beverage.

High-antioxidant red food group ideas:

  • Fruits: Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pomegranates, cranberries, tomatoes, grapes, guava and figs
  • Vegetables: Red bell peppers, beets

Page Love is a local dietitian, avid ALTA player and owner of Nutrifit, Sport, Therapy, Inc. She is a member of the USTA Sport Science Committee and a sport nutrition consultant to the WTA and ATP tennis tours. Visit her at nutrifitga.com for more information.