Inflammation and sore muscles is a sign of a hard workout. Anyone who works out regularly may understand the feeling of a burning sensation in a particular part of a body. As a consequence, thousands of synthetic sport supplements are out in the market promising great results to beat swollen muscles and faster recovery. However, the Mother Nature provides a wide variety of foods that do the same job as synthetic pills. Welcome to the fruit world of anti-inflammatory berries: blueberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, cherries…
Blueberries can notably reduce inflammation (1) after a strenuous exercise according to a study published by the Canadian Science Publishing in 2011. A group of runners were given 250 grams of blueberries during 6 weeks and 375 grams 1 hour before the 2.5 hours run. As a result, muscle biopsies of athletes confirmed that these purple fruits decreased soreness in the muscles.
Blueberries, a fruit rich in bioflavonoids
On the other hand, recovery after exercising is vital for anyone who practises any type of sport. Further studies using cherries show that their anti-inflammatory effect can speed up the recovery time. A study developed for the University of Vermont discovered that average strength loss over four days after eccentric exercise was 22% with the placebo but only 4% with the cherry juice (2). This research was done more than 10 years ago, exactly in 2006, but I am sure that blueberries still have all their active ingredients intact. Maybe they have reduced or diminished goodness due to overexploitation of the soil, but that’s another subject.
Apparently, watermelon has similar benefits. Consuming 300 grams of watermelon before intense exercises has a soothing effect in muscles (3). The main anti-inflammatory compound in this fruit is lycopene. This ingredient is responsible for its red colour and it also is an inhibitor for various inflammatory processes. Therefore, it fights antioxidants and neutralises free radicals. Additionally, watermelon is very rich in choline which helps to reduce chronic inflammation.
Citrus fruit against inflammation
Berries and citrus fruit are very rich in bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids (flavonoids) are mainly found in plants and they have a potent antioxidant role. So, their main function is to fight free radicals and also to reduce inflammation in the body. There are six main (4) types of bioflavonoids: flavones, isoflavonoids, flavanones, flavanols, anthocyanins and flavonols. However to make it simple for everyone, bioflavonoids or flavonoids are generic names that refer to all of them. Obviously, each type of fruit has different flavonoids values, but the one which fights inflammation most efficiently is anthocyanin. And blueberries are extremely rich in this particular kind of flavonoids. As a conclusion, add some purple and red fruit in your diet instead of buying expensive sport supplements with doubtful results.