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Antioxidant-rich leafy greens may help prevent oxidative damage caused by working out

Published on

07 May 2012

Eating green leafy vegetables, such as watercress, can prevent some of the damage caused by high intensity exercise and help maximize the benefits of a tough workout, suggests a new study from the UK.

The study compared the physical reaction of men (average age: 23 years) participating in high-level exer-cise on the treadmill who had consumed 85g of watercress everyday over a period of eight weeks to the physical reaction of men with no intake (1). The results showed that those who had not eaten watercress were found to have more DNA damage, increased lipid peroxidation – a sign of oxidative stress – and lower levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), than those who had eaten it. The effect of eating this leafy green vegetable did not rely upon an accumulative build-up in the men’s bodies: those who ate the vegetable just two hours before exercising experienced the same benefits as those who had consumed the vegetable for eight weeks.

The researchers concluded that consuming a relatively small amount of green leafy vegetables each day can help to raise blood levels of important antioxidant vitamins, which may help protect the body from DNA-da-maging free radicals build up by exhaustive aerobic exercise.


  1. Fogarty M. C. et al. Acute and chronic watercress supplementation attenuates exercise-induced peripheral mononuclear cell DNA damage and lipid peroxidation. British Journal of Nutrition. Published online April 2012.

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