Herbs You Should Add to Your Diet
You already know that the foods you eat can have a profound effect not only on your health, but also on your performance as an endurance athlete. The things you add to your foods — the condiments, the seasonings, all those little things that add flavor and variety to your dishes — can also have a profound effect on your health and your performance as an athlete. In some cases, what you add to your food can have a more powerful effect than the food itself.
There are many great herbs, in particular, that can help you to improve health and, therefore, performance. Here are just a few herbs that you should consider adding to your diet:
Oregano is as nutritious as it is delicious. One teaspoon is said to have as many antioxidants as three cups of broccoli. Antioxidants not only slow the signs of aging, but they also promote healing and reduce inflammation — important benefits for endurance athletes.
You can add oregano to just about any dish to give it a flavorful punch. Try it on pastas and pizzas, of course, but also experiment with it on grilled meats, fresh veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers, or even on sandwiches.
Rosemary is another great herb that is often used in Italian cuisine. It is very fragrant and has a unique flavor that will add a kick to any dish. Like oregano, the compounds in rosemary help to fight inflammation in the body. By reducing inflammation, you can reduce your risk of injury and enhance your muscle performance for greater athletic performance.
Rosemary is a great addition to pastas and rice dishes, but it will also taste great on a roast chicken or roast lamb. Try it out on salads, as well!
Like many other herbs, thyme is loaded with antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation from the stress you put on your body during exercise, as well as the response caused by eating some foods. In addition, the compounds in thyme has been shown to have an effect on respiratory function. That means that you’ll be able to use oxygen more efficiently in endurance sports, one of the most important factors in your performance.
Add thyme to your diet in salad dressings, sauces and creamy dips. You can also use it as a rub for meats like beef and fish, or sprinkle it on pasta.
Cumin has been used as a holistic treatment for many illnesses throughout time. It is a natural antiseptic and has been shown to strengthen the stomach. That means that it can improve digestion, which is essential to helping you achieve peak performance. Cumin is also a natural stimulant, so you can use it to fuel your workouts as a healthier alternative than caffeine or sugar-laced drinks.
Many Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes employ cumin, particularly the seeds. The herb has a slightly sweet flavor, which is great for stir fries or curries. It’s also great on rice.
Though it doesn’t have green leaves, cinnamon is a herb — and a herb with powerful health benefits. Cinnamon naturally helps regulate blood-sugar levels, which can help you to fight insulin spikes and blood-sugar crashes. That means you’ll get a more steady supply of energy for your endurance workouts, and you’ll pack on fewer pounds, keeping you lean and at top performance capability.
Cinnamon is a great addition to any sweet treats, including ice cream and cakes. You can also sprinkle it on your toast or oatmeal in the morning, or you can use it as a topping for your sweet potatoes. Experiment with the combination of sweet and salty by adding cinnamon to dishes you might not think of, like grilled meats or white potatoes.
Herbs are a powerful, but often overlooked, addition to your diet. Many herbs can help you to fight inflammation, improve your respiratory function, improve your digestion, and regulate your energy. These are just a few that can help you achieve top performance as an endurance athlete, but there are many more that will be able to help you, as well. Experiment with what you like to make your dishes more flavorful and more nutritious.
What Herbs Are Your Favorites?
Do You Prefer Fresh Or Dried Herbs?
About the Author:
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching the extensive world of culinary degree options. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.
Images courtesy of James Barker, Suat Eman, artur84, and Grant Cochrane (respectively) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net