Superfoods are called “super” for a reason, and we should be eating more of all of them! Things like nuts and fish and dark leafy greens. Essentially, they are the foods that give your body the most bang for their buck. But some superfoods are particularly great for improving the performance and health of gamers, which warrants some special attention.
Here are the top five superfoods for gamers everywhere.
Popular for centuries in Japanese culture, matcha is a powdered green tea that comes from the Camellia sinensis tea plant, the source of all green teas. The powder is itself crushed up tea leaves from the plant, which for matcha is specifically grown in the shade because it increases the amount of chlorophyll and other beneficial compounds, like polyphenols, catechins, and the amino acid L-theanine.
Experts have touted the benefits of traditional green teas for decades, and they’ve found matcha to be no exception. In fact, because matcha is a more concentrated (and more caffeinated) form of green tea, it’s thought to potentially provide even greater benefits. The polyphenols and catechins, for instance, are plant-based micronutrients packed with cell-preserving antioxidants. Another of those such benefits comes from the L-theanine amino acid mentioned above. Studies have found L-theanine to improve cognition and attention as well as mood and performance—especially when combined with caffeine, which is naturally present in all green teas, including matcha. The L-theanine helps calm the effects of caffeine, so you get the alertness without any jitters. Additional research on green tea generally has shown it to have anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects and suggested its potential to prevent cancer growth and development, lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and prevent Type 2 diabetes.
All of those benefits are great reasons to make a morning matcha latté, but for gamers, the boosts to cognition, attention, mood, and performance make matcha a must.
There’s a character in the ballet The Nutcracker called Mother Ginger, and that moniker seems to fit the flowering plant root quite well. Ginger has long been used in foods as well as on its own as a medicinal agent, it’s taken care of and nurtured multiple populations of people to better health. Ginger’s widely known to be one of the healthiest spices on the planet, which science has backed up repeatedly, finding it to be highly effective in helping regulate digestion and gastrointestinal inflammation, treating nausea, treating cold and flu symptoms, relieving muscle pain and chronic inflammation, supporting heart health, and reducing the risk of cancer and cell damage.
How does it do all this? Through some very helpful enzymes and a whole lot of something called gingerol, a bioactive compound with numerous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Gamers should take note and incorporate ginger to help with inflammation and pain that can arise from repetitive use of the same muscles (not to mention the muscle tension that comes with the stress of some games) along with indigestion, which can plague some gamers due to the long hours seated.
Beautiful blueberries—who doesn’t want to eat more of them? Thankfully, we can and we should. Basically all berries rank in the superfood realm, but blueberries hit the jackpot. First, they have the most vitamins and nutrients of all the berries. Second—and maybe more importantly—they are jam-packed with phytochemicals and incredible amounts of antioxidants, namely their rich anthocyanin pigments, which have been linked to lowering inflammation as well as reducing the risk of all the biggies: heart disease, diabetes, and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Gamers need healthy, strong minds and memories, and we certainly need to keep inflammation at bay. Blueberries are a delicious and delightful way to ensure both.
We know you’ve heard it plenty of times before, but we’d remiss to not to say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” You know why? Because it’s pretty true. To start, apples are a low-calorie, high-fiber fruit full of good vitamins, nutrients, and polyphenols. The fiber makes them a particularly filling snack, without being too high on calories and with a low glycemic index. The polyphenols in apples, like in matcha, have antioxidant properties, which lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. On top of all that, the pectin fiber in apples is prebiotic, meaning it helps promote the growth of good gut bacteria, which aids digestion and reduces the risk of obesity. One of the antioxidants in apples, quercetin, has also been found to have neuroprotective properties.
All of that may pretty well explain itself as to why it’s important to keep apples in heavy rotation in your gamer diet, but we’ll give a shout out to its high-fiber, prebiotic, and neuroprotective props to start you off.
5. Tart Cherries
Last but not least, we bring you cherries. The refrain might sound familiar at this point, but yet again, cherries come in hot with fiber, vitamins, and minerals galore—including the all-important antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. The fiber content keeps your gut healthy, while the high potassium levels do their work on muscle health and recovery, optimizing nerve function, and lowering blood pressure. Adding another boon for gamers, cherries contain melatonin, a natural phytochemical which helps regulate our bodies’ sleep-wake cycles.
Cherries are an important one for gamers struggling with sleep issues in particular, but they’re just as important for other gamers who want to keep their muscles healthy, their neurons firing well, and their blood pressure low in the high-stress gaming moments.
There are numerous ways to add these foods into your diet, whether that’s in teas or as snacks on their own. However you choose to have them, we promise they’ll improve your gaming performance and make you healthier on the whole, gaming or not.
Eat well, win well, and try SNACK!