Spring brings longer daylight hours for a.m. and p.m. workouts (yay!) and open-air markets full of yummy produce to keep you energized.
Call them what you like—power produce, wonder-foods, or nutritional powerhouses—superfoods are recognized as whole foods that you can actually find in nature or at your local farmers market. With properties that can help combat all kinds of ailments, adding more superfoods to your diet can bolster overall health and reduce risk of chronic disease.
These nutrient-rich foods are clearly beneficial to everyday health, but we wondered if there were some that may be extra-potent when it comes to fueling workouts. We posed the question to Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN, who says superfoods can help build and repair muscles, aid in hydration, and balance energy. Whether you eat them pre- or post-workout, superfoods are crucial to both exercise performance and recovery.
So how do we get more of these healthy eats into our daily diets? Bazilian says superfoods need to be delicious, easy-to-use, and versatile, so you can feature them in many different recipes. Here are some of the best, easy-to-find spring superfoods you’ll want to buy to power your body for your spring and summer workouts.
Bazilian, also the author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet, loves this antioxidant powerhouse and heart-shaped fruit for its fiber and vitamin C. “Vitamin C is essential to a healthy immune system, helping wounds heal properly, building and maintaining cartilage, and keeping your skin healthy and vital, too,” she says. Add strawberries to sweeten oatmeal in the morning or mix in slices to your salad at lunch.
TRY THIS RECIPE: Chicken, Spinach, and Strawberry Salad
A surprising pick to some, Bazilian credits artichokes for their fiber and particularly high antioxidant count. “A whole medium artichoke has only 60 calories and 10 grams (over a third of your daily recommendation!) of fiber,” she says. Try the veggie as a topper for pizza, pastas, and salads.
TRY THIS RECIPE: Roasted Garlic, Artichoke, and Asparagus Pasta
Seems like there’s nothing this super veggie—ahem, fruit!—can’t be used for, and with several peak seasons, it’s easy to get your hands on one. Once you finally find a ripe one, try avocado in a variety of recipes, from toast to smoothies. In The SuperfoodsRx Diet, Bazilian praises the pick: “A source of 20 vitamins and minerals, avocados also help make us feel fuller longer due to their fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.”
Known for their powerful antioxidants, this snackable fruit boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, supports brain health, protects against heart disease and cancer, helps regulate blood sugar, and fights off UTIs, according to Health's contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. Now, that’s a superfood.
RELATED: 17 Refreshing Blueberry Recipes
The veggie is high in antioxidants and low in calories, supports digestive health and immunity, and helps lower blood pressure, Sass says. Asparagus can be eaten at any time of the day whether it's with eggs and smoked salmon at breakfast, or with a chicken breast and brown rice for dinner after a workout.
Bazilian recommends apricots for a low-calorie, high-fiber dose of vitamins A and C, "important for keeping our immune system functioning at its best, our skin healthy, and preserving vision as we age.” She suggests incorporating the underrated fruit into your diet by mashing some into a salsa for fish or chicken, putting them in pancake batter, or simply eating them on their own.
Ready to ditch added sugar? Sign up for our 14-Day Sugar Detox Challenge!
High in antioxidants, low in calories, and rich in immune-supporting vitamins A and C, this leafy green helps offset the wear and tear of exercise. “Blueberries and watercress are ideal pre-exercise," Sass says, "to help fuel activity and raise blood antioxidant levels to protect cells from excess damage during workouts.”