Foods That Help Athletes On And Off The Field

February 26, 2013 | Jim Carpentier

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Good foods don't just help you build muscle. They make you a healthier person. For example, salmon not only provides muscle-building protein, it also delivers omega-3 fatty acids that benefit your brain, heart, skin and joints.

Simply put, eating the right foods can give you an edge both on the field and in life. Here's the all-star lineup for peak mental and physical performance as well as overall wellness.

Muscle and Bone Builders

Eggs, Fish, Nuts, Seeds, Fruits, Vegetables, Yogurt, Cheese, Milk, Water, Black and Green Tea.

Why: Eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt and milk are packed with protein, which helps build muscle and also contain bone-supporting minerals and vitamins like vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Raisins, bananas, leafy greens, water and black and green tea also aid bone health. Check out the top 10 muscle-building foods.

Brain Boosters

Salmon, tuna, olive oil, walnuts, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, apples, onions, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, cinnamon, dark chocolate and tea.

Why: These foods have been shown to help mental alertness, improve mood and possibly prevent brain diseases like Alzheimer's, depression and dementia.

Heart Helpers

Fruits, vegetables, seafood, yams, nuts, seeds, beans, avocados, whole grains, olive oil, dark chocolate, water, milk, and black and green tea.

Why: These foods help lower blood pressure and improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Eye Openers

Eggs, dark leafy greens, carrots, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, cantaloupe, apricots, fish, whole grains, and milk.

Why: Athletes demand a lot from their peepers, like tracking down fly balls in glaring stadium lights or blinding sunlight. So give your eyes a break with foods rich in vitamins A, C, E and omega-3 fatty acids. Learn more about three super foods to improve vision.

Anti-Inflammatory Soothers

Fish, fruits (especially tart cherries and cherry juice), vegetables, nuts, seeds, water, black and green teas.

Why: Foods with anti-inflammatory properties help reduce muscle and joint soreness and ease recovery after exercise. Adequate water consumption is also important. Your body's levels of inflammation will spike if you're even slightly dehydrated. Learn about six foods to decrease post-workout muscle soreness.

"Breathe Easy" Bunch

Seafood, apples, onions, garlic, spicy mustard, hot chili peppers, water, green and black teas.

Why: These foods and beverages help relieve respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, which can keep you out of class or off the field.

Skin Savers

Apples, grapes, cherries, carrots, Swiss chard, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, beans, seafood, nuts, seeds, olive oil, mushrooms, whole grains and water.

Why: Seafood is especially recommended for people suffering from acne, psoriasis and eczema. Getting sufficient water helps you maintain clear, smooth skin. And since athletes spend a lot time outdoors, the more skin-helping foods you can get, the better. But don't forget the sunscreen!

Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist, and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as Associate Health and...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist, and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as Associate Health and...
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