Superfood blueberries help athletes too
New Zealand researchers have found yet another reason to eat blueberries.
A study carried out by researchers from Massey University and the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research found blueberries helped athletes recover faster from exercise.
Massey school of sport and exercise head Associate Professor Steve Stannard said the findings could help Olympians and other athletes return to peak performance faster after strenuous exercise.
Results from the study, which involved 10 women and used Northland blueberries, have been published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
''We put the study participants on a Biodex machine and had them work the thigh of one leg very hard to damage the muscle,'' Stannard said.
In the first part of the study, participants were given blueberry smoothies before, during, and for two days after the exercise strength tests, and blood samples were taken to monitor the leg’s recovery.
Several weeks later, the exercise was repeated on the other leg, but a smoothie without blueberries, and therefore with a different polyphenol content, was consumed instead.
The blood samples showed eating the blueberries, although possessing a similar total antioxidant content as the control, produced a higher level of antioxidant defence in the blood.
That was associated with improved rate of recovery in the first 36 hours in one particular measure of muscle performance.
Stannard said it was not yet clear exactly how the blueberries helped.
It was probably linked to the superior anthocyanin (pigment) content of the blueberries interacting with and helping the body’s natural antioxidant mechanisms.
Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Roger Hurst said a huge amount of research was still to be done.
"But this work is giving a wonderful indicator and we expect these exciting findings to further boost the desirability of New Zealand blueberries."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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