Five superfoods for runners

As summer fades and we head towards the prospect of shorter days and darker evenings, Dr Karen Reid, a Registered Dietitian and Sports and Exercise Nutritionist at, explains how a well-chosen, high quality diet can help runners train without succumbing to illness over the winter months.

As far as nutrition is concerned, a proactive approach is required after a tough training session in order to prevent illness. Nutrition plays a vital role in recovery by helping to alleviate stress to the immune system, making a cold less likely.

Your armoury against infection should include a good intake of protective vitamins and anti-oxidant compounds from fresh fruit and vegetables.

This doesn't necessarily mean having a cupboard full of expensive supplement products as there is good supportive evidence for food-derived compounds rather than just relying on supplements to maintain your health.

Indiscriminate use of large amounts of supplements may be counterproductive and actually impair the body's ability to adapt to the increased oxidative stress of exercise and associated cell damage.

In fact, there is limited evidence that antioxidants taken in amounts greater than that found in the diet can actually benefit recovery and over-supplementation may diminish the body's natural defence system.

Some of the most powerful dietary antioxidants naturally present in fruits and vegetables can be found in a group of naturally-occurring flavenoids called anthocyanins. These are typically found in abundance in blueberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, beetroot and red cabbage. These are responsible for the deep pigments of red, purple and blue found in a range of fruits and vegetables.

Include berries as part of your nutritional recovery, along with fluids, electrolytes, proteins and carbs.

So before reaching for the supplement bottle, why not try these foods to boost your intake of protective micro-nutrients:

Satsumas - At only 23 calories each and packed with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, you can make these your snack between meals. Make sure you always carry a couple of satsumas in your bag for after training.

Berries - Berries contain powerful antioxidants and there are such a variety that you can enjoy them as a snack or with yoghurt and oats as a great breakfast. Strawberries and blueberries are great sources of vitamin C, will help muscle recovery and prevent cell damage.

Purple grapes - Packed full of powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals with anti-aging benefits too! Great for your heart and research suggests that they can help fight cancer as well.

Beetroot - A vegetable packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, this member of the beet family can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure as well as prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. Make sure you add it to your salad to boost your stamina!

Nuts - A great source of Vitamin E, selenium and magnesium. Nuts also contain healthy fats which help control cholesterol, but be aware that they are high in calories too; three brazil nuts contain 68 calories and 6.8 grams of fat. A small handful of nuts are a great pre- or post-run snack.

Dr Karen Reid brings over 30 years experience of working with elite athletes and sportspeople to provide sports nutrition and dietetic expertise at

Special Offer for Running Bug readers - Get 20% off Annual membership to by entering the discount code PF020. Join now by clicking here. You can also buy
"Food Facts for Athletes and Sportspeople" for just £5.00 from the online store and get a second booklet "Food or Supplements: an informed choice" completely free!