Antioxidants and sports

Antioxidants in the world of sports are especially important since it is necessary to consume a diet richer in these compounds to combat the increase in the production of free radicals.

An excess of free radicals has a negative impact on health and athletic performance, since it can accentuate muscle overload, accelerate fatigue and delay recovery. The way to buffer the damaging effect of free radicals on muscle is to increase the presence of antioxidants in the diet.

Among all antioxidants, vitamins C and E are par excellence, but minerals also play an important role, especially selenium and zinc, and polyphenols, among which the group of flavonoids stands out.

Most of the antioxidants are found in plant foods, which explains part of the healthy actions of fruits, legumes, greens, vegetables and whole grains.

Most antioxidants are found in plant foods

Vitamin C

is the classic antioxidant. It helps the development of bone structures, improves the absorption of iron, promotes the growth and repair of muscle tissue, intervenes in the production of collagen, in the metabolism of fats and in the healing of wounds. In short, it stimulates the repair and formation of the most important tissues, necessary during physical activity. This vitamin does not increase sports performance, however, it has the fundamental function of facilitating the absorption of other vitamins and many minerals. At the same time it helps control excess free radicals caused by intense activities.

Kiwi, citrus fruits, tomato, broccoli, papaya, melon, parsley, bean sprouts

Vitamin E

This vitamin is capable of preventing arteriosclerosis because it prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and its disposition on the walls of the arteries. In this way, it prevents the appearance of thrombi that hinder circulation by narrowing the walls of the blood vessels. Its antioxidant action favors the elimination of free radicals generated by the body itself, as well as those that come from outside. The foods that have this vitamin are fats of vegetable origin.

Vegetable oils (olive, soy, corn and sunflower), dried fruits (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts), seeds (flax, sesame, hemp seeds), whole grains, wheat germ and legumes.


It is a mineral that delays cell aging and helps prevent cell degeneration. Similarly, selenium acts favorably on the muscles, preventing injuries and promoting their recovery, as well as preventing the development of respiratory tract infections. Its action is closely linked to the activity of vitamin E.

Sunflower seeds, fish, garlic and onion, broccoli, brewer’s yeast.


Zinc is an essential element for growth and development. It is found in relatively large quantities in muscle, where it constitutes 50-60% of all body zinc. This mineral is a necessary element in the structure or activity of more than 100 enzymes. There are few metabolic pathways in which, at one time or another, zinc does not act as an essential element. In addition to its antioxidant function, it participates in the regeneration and recovery of small muscle injuries in athletes, intervenes in the proper functioning of the immune system, in wound healing, in the secretion of hormones and in energy metabolism.

Cocoa, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame, mushrooms, spinach, whole grains

They are antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables. It is important to include them in the diet because they reduce oxidative stress and the balance of antioxidant status in athletes during the competition period, and improve performance.

Fruits, vegetables, green tea

The best thing you can do to avoid oxidative stress is to eat a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Food contains small doses of vitamins, which gives you its benefits avoiding the risk of toxicity or damage to health that can occur with supplements .

by Abdullah Sam
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