Food for Thought

Antioxidants and Exercise: Food for Thought

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Much deliberation surrounds the question about how well the body’s natural defense system can combat the free radicals that are released during exercise.  For that reason, many athletes and bodybuilders–along with their trainers–question the use of antioxidants as a means of warding off that 4-5% of oxygen released during exercise that refuses to turn into water.  

If you sit on the side of the fence that believes antioxidants are beneficial to a training regime, finding the right supplement can certainly assist your body in battling those free radicals released during exercise.  

In addition to choosing supplements to give your body the mental boost it needs to stay fit, there are quite a few foods that can help you as well.  While you are probably aware of the powerful antioxidants in fruits, nuts, fish and other types of foods common to a typical diet, these 5 food choices are far from typical, but still bring in the health benefits associated with being rich in antioxidants. Here are some powerful food for thought.

1. Offal


Offal, or “of all” are the parts of the animal that fall off the carcass during the butchering process, such as the lungs, kidneys, tongue, testicles, heart, etc. While eating organ meat is not a particularly favored pastime, some experts consider the organs to be the most impactful “superfood’ in the animal kingdom. If you need further evidence, consider the fact that predatory animals instinctively eat the organs of their prey first; they know the organs are the best source of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and, of course, antioxidants.

Offal is particularly high in vitamin A, which helps promote better digestion, sight, healthier bones, and thyroids. It also is used to protect against birth defects and infection. A lot of eaters obtain the plant-based vitamin A known as carotene. This is different than the animal-based vitamin A found in Offal. In fact, Offals source of vitamin A is better because some people are unable to convert the plant-based carotenes into true Vitamin A, especially if their diet is low in fat.

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2. Natto


A fermented soybean was originating from Japan; natto is a great booster to your heart health. Its active ingredients help prevent blood clots from forming, while also breaking down arterial plaque, which can help cut down on your chance to have a heart attack or stroke. It’s also very high in Vitamin K. While this fat-soluble vitamin is not a traditional antioxidant, it has similar properties and functions like one.

Natto is a hard-to-swallow food, without first acquiring a taste for its exotic flavor. A lot of eaters try and alter its flavor by adding salty components or other spices. Some people even use sugar or honey to help sweeten the dish.

3. Dark Chocolate

While not exactly an “uncommon” food, we don’t usually think of our favorite, late night temptation as being good for us. However, cocoa has high levels of flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps protect against some serious maladies, including heart disease, lung and prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, asthma and more. According to a research study conducted at Penn State University, people that commonly ate dark chocolate had lower levels of bad cholesterol, better blood antioxidant levels, and increased good HDL cholesterol.

Dark chocolate has many benefits to human health. Dark chocolate not only contains antioxidants but also contains a natural compound named Epicatechin, which has been shown to positively impact performance, endurance and body composition. This compound can be taken as a supplement.

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When it comes to dark chocolate, the richer, the better. If you are an avid chocolatier, take a look at the percentage of cocoa in your favorite bar and compare it to other brands to find the best, healthy option.

4. Turmeric


If you have a sizeable spice collection at home, you may already have turmeric on hand. It is a spice commonly used in the southern and eastern parts of Asia. One of its more traditional culinary uses is in flavoring curry (it also gives mustard its yellow color). Turmeric is often regarded as one of the most powerful antioxidants available because of its active ingredient, curcumin.

The antioxidant properties of curcumin are known to combat actively the bad free radicals that can cause many types of cancer. By neutralizing these free radicals, turmeric’s antioxidant potential also helps reduce the discomfort of arthritis or joint pain.

5. Camu Camu

Camu Camu

Found in the lowlands of the Amazon Rainforest (Peru, Brazil), Camu Camu is a reddish-purple fruit with an impressive resume of benefits. Similar to dark chocolate, Camu Camu contains high levels of flavonoids for better heart health and cholesterol management. Also, this fruit contains other antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as other vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Camu is most regarded for its natural density of vitamin C. It is the single greatest known source of vitamin C on the planet. In fact, some health and food experts claim it has at least 20 times more vitamin C than an orange (sometimes that number is as high as 60 times more!).


The debate surrounding the use of antioxidants as part of your exercise regime will continue to be one on the minds of many trainers and scientists alike.  Be that what it may, a solid eating plan–especially one rich in foods with antioxidants can be beneficial to your body in many ways.  

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