Tired of feeling sore after a game? Try eating more colorful fruitsand veggies. Tart cherries, pomegranates, purple grapes, and blueberries. These are just a few of the colorful fruits and their juices that are filled with healing powers. Colorful fruits are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; they are perfect remedies for soccer players who get “beat up” during a game.
Several studies have shown the power of fruits in reducing muscle pain. For example, tart cherry juice taken for 7 days before—and on the day of— a 12 mile run significantly reduced post-run pain (1). Sounds to me like a better alternative to NSAIDs with the risk of adverse medical effects.
While the folks who sell tart cherry juice products have funded this research, the bottom line is that all colorful fruits and their juices are very powerful in terms of reducing pain associated with inflammation. These include Welch’s purple grape juice, PomWonderful pomegranate juice, as well as strawberries, blueberries, dates, mango….
How do you plan these health-protective fruits into your diet? Four easy suggestions include:
• Whip up a fruit smoothie for breakfast or recovery snack: frozen berries + OJ + Greek yogurt or powered milk for protein.
• Sprinkle generous amounts of chopped dates, dried apricots and other dried fruit on top of oatmeal or other breakfast cereal.
* Tuck two bottles into your gym bag: one with water, one with tart cherry, pomegranate or blueberry juice into your gym bag so the fluids will be ready and waiting to quench your thirst.
• Establish a food rule: You have to eat some dates (they are powerfully sweet and very rich in anti-oxidants) before you have a cookie or other dessert. (Hopefully, this will even kill your appetite for the cookie!)
Eat wisely and be well,
Nancy Clark and Gloria Averbuch
Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros
(1) Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 May 7;7:17.