By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
The foods you eat daily can and will influence your health. This is a simple concept to understand, but it is difficult to know which foods are best and to what extent can they improve your health.
Most of the foods we eat as Americans consist of many ingredients (even bad ones) and for starters, the best food is natural and unprocessed. Natural foods grow in nature such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal proteins (e.g., milk and dairy products and more). Yes, even proteins such as red meat and poultry!
Antioxidants reduce inflammation
Recent research has aimed to identify ingredients that can help improve your health by reducing muscle damage and inflammation (negative swelling) after exercise.
For example, it is well understood that foods high in antioxidants reduce systemic inflammation throughout your body and your blood vessels.
Bright colored berries and green leafy vegetables are foods high in antioxidants. Many people believe that these are the only foods that can help reduce inflammation in swelling.
Tomato-based foods reduce muscle damage
New research suggests that tomato-based foods, oat-based protein, and other multi-ingredient supplements can also reduce muscle damage after exercise and may, over time, reduce systemic inflammation due to stress from exercise.
More specifically, it is possible that ingesting tomato- and oat-based foods can reduce vascular inflammation.
Intriguingly, the beneficial nutrients included in wholesome tomato-based nutrients are lycopene, phytoene, and phytofluene which are carotenoids.
Carotenoids are plant pigments, that provide plants with color and improve the health of the plant. These pigments are also healthy for humans and can serve as a protective nutrient when consistently consumed.
In summary, if you like wholesome tomato-based foods, you are in luck! The caveat is that processed tomato-based sauces, pizza sauces, and others contain sugar and other ingredients that may negate the positive effect of the carotenoids found in such sauces.
Therefore, it is best to make your own sauce from scratch and avoid adding sugar. Remember a zesty sauce is better than a sweet sauce because sweet sauces contain sugar, usually lots of sugar.
But remember you can simply eat a tomato like an apple!
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Nieman, David C., et al. “Effect of 4-Week Ingestion of Tomato-Based Carotenoids on Exercise-Induced Inflammation, Muscle Damage, and Oxidative Stress in Endurance Runners.” International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 28.3 (2018): 266-273.
Köhne, Jessica L., Michael J. Ormsbee, and Andrew J. McKune. “The effects of a multi-ingredient supplement on markers of muscle damage and inflammation following downhill running in females.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 13.1 (2016): 44.
Zhi, X. I. A., et al. “Effects of oats protein supplementation on skeletal muscle damage, inflammation and performance recovery following downhill running in untrained collegiate men.” Food & Function (2018).