In a new study from Northumbria University, researchers found a recently discovered edible berry has the potential to improve the performance of endurance runners by a potentially game-changing 2%.
The Haskap berry (botanical name Lonicera caerulea) is edible blue honeysuckle native to the boreal forests and low-lying wet regions of northern hemisphere countries including Canada, Japan, and Russia.
The berries are very high in vitamin C, and like many purple fruits, contain high levels of antioxidants.
In the study, the team examined the potential benefits of consuming Haskap berries, and their capacity to improve endurance running performance.
Like some other fruits, Haskap berries are rich in dietary anthocyanins and polyphenols—naturally occurring compounds that have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vascular benefits.
According to the team, Haskap berries contain very high concentrations of anthocyanins that have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
After conducting a series of endurance tests on 30 male recreational runners, the team discovered that it took longer for athletes who had consumed Haskap berries to fatigue (or reach the point of exhaustion) compared with those who hadn’t.
In a subsequent test of their speed over a 5-kilometer distance (the same distance as the globally popular ParkRun), runners who had consumed the berries also saw their overall time improve by around 20 seconds.
The team says these powerful little berries appear to help runners perform better during fatiguing tasks, and increase running speed over a commonly run distance of five km.
They saw around a 2% improvement in running time performance, which is not trivial. In other words, you run about 0.25 km/h quicker over the same distance.
The study also showed that Haskap berries can improve performance.
Researchers believe the Haskap berries might be affecting the ability to combat exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress or improve vascular function and oxygen utilization or indeed a combination of the three.
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The study is published in Nutrients and was conducted by Glyn Howatson et al.
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