If your blender hasn’t been used as of late, a study from researchers at Northumbria University may tempt you get it out and mix up a smoothie before your next run around the block: haskap berries are able to enhance endurance runners’ athletic performance by a lot, their research found.
The berries grow in the cooler climes of the Northern Hemisphere nations such as Canada, Russia, Japan and Poland, haskap berries are some of the most nutrient-dense fruits around the world, containing two to three times more antioxidants than what blueberries have. They have extremely high concentrations of polyphenols and anthocyanins, two compounds that are naturally-occurring known for their vascular and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Released in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial observed 30 male recreational runners go through a series of high endurance tests. Those who had ate haskap berries enjoyed a two-pronged performance boost. For starters, it took them a while longer to tire out. And second, they were running faster than those who didn’t eat the berries. Over a three mile distance, participants who had ate the berries had an overall time improvement of around 20 seconds.
“These are powerful little berries that appear to help runners perform much better during tasks that can be fatiguing and increasing their running speed over a three mile distance,” says Glyn Howatson. “The runners had a 2 percent improvement in running their time performance, which is not a small amount. In other words, you could run about 0.25km/h faster over the same distance.”
The mechanics that are behind the performance increase are not yet fully known, but Professor Howatson and his team think the berries might affect runners’ ability to “fight exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammation or improve their oxygen utilisation and vascular function – or perhaps a combination of all three.”
It is worth noting that the study was commissioned by the superfood company known as Haskapa, which makes haskap berry juice, but the researchers said the funders did not “play a role in the data collection, study design, interpretation or analyses of data, in the decision of where to release the results, or in the preparation of the manuscript”.