In recent years, there has been a revolution in the sports world on how important nutrition is in an athlete’s life. Proper nutrition allows for better performance during competition as well as a quick recovery afterward. Athletes now know that a well-balanced diet is important in allowing your body to rebuild muscle tissue and get ready for the next competition.
A study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which analyzed 74,000 adults over 24 years, found improving the quality of your diet to include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish and less red and processed meats and sugary beverages, may significantly reduce risk of premature death.
The study, which looked at diet over a 12-year period (1986-1998) and the subject’s risk of dying over the next 12 years (1998-2010), found that increasing healthy foods in your diet is associated with lower risk of total and cardiovascular death. The Mediterranean Diet or DASH Diet were considered to be best examples.
The researchers found that swapping one serving of red or processed meat daily for a better option was linked to an 8% to 17% decrease in risk of death. Among those who had relatively unhealthy diets at the beginning of the study but whose diet scores improved the most, the risk of death in subsequent years was also significantly reduced.
Lead author Mercedes Sotos-Priet says that, “Our study indicates that even modest improvements in diet quality could meaningfully influence mortality risk and conversely, worsening diet quality may increase the risk.”
The study was published in the July 13, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
All-Star’s Personal Chef Talks About Eating to Fuel Performance
Prior to scoring 39 points, leading his team to the national championship and being named MVP, Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant had a nice lunch of pan-seared salmon topped with homemade tzatziki sauce, served with wild rice and a medley of zucchini and squash. He eats fish – a lean protein that sustains his energy levels without weighing him down – before nearly every game.
In fact, Durant eats seafood at least six times a week – 8-ounce servings of some of his favorites, including salmon, sea bass, scallops and shrimp, says the man who cooks these all-star dishes for him, chef Ryan Lopez.
“In order for me to perform the way I want to perform,” the two-time Olympian says, “I need some good energy in my body and [Lopez] provides that for me.”
Lopez says, “I need to make sure he’s fueled for the game,” and seafood is light, easy to digest, offers energy and helps with muscle recovery. Adding, “as a trained chef, it needs to be healthy but I make sure it tastes good, too.” He takes classic comfort food dishes and puts a healthy spin on them.
Lopez has cooked for Durant for nearly six years, moving to Oklahoma City and then to the Bay Area when he transferred from the Thunder to the Warriors this season. And, this season while Durant was out with a knee injury, he needed to focus even more on nutrition to get him toward his goals of recovery.
Lopez works with six other athletes, as well, including professional boxers and Oakland Raiders players, and personalizes meal plans for each of them based on blood work to get to peak performance through measures of inflammation, cholesterol, glucose, omega-3s, and gluten.
To decrease inflammation and to aid in muscle recovery for his athletes, Lopez encourages them to get a significant amount of omega-3s a day, with a goal of an omega-3 blood level of 10% to 15%. He acknowledges this can sometimes mean they need to supplement with fish oil.
For Durant, Lopez prepares balanced meals that rely on lean protein, minimally processed carbs (plus he’s been gluten free for three months) and a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
A typical day includes:
One of Durant’s favorites is the miso-glazed sea bass. “I fell in love with sea bass when [Lopez] started cooking for me,” he says. “That’s like the one thing I have to have all the time.”
Lopez tries to cook seasonally, so currently halibut and soft shell crab are favorites right now.
Find Lopez on Facebook or Instagram to follow along with his kitchen creations.
Pro Cooking Tip:
When cooking a fish filet without the skin, Chef Ryan Lopez prefers pan searing in a little avocado oil. On high heat, sear for 3 to 4 minutes until it starts to release off the pan and has a brown crust, then pop into the oven for a few minutes to cook to medium. Then let it rest for a couple minutes before serving for a nice crust.
If the filet has skin, start with skin side down in the pan and, while searing, push it down for 30 seconds so it doesn’t curl. Then the last step is to flip it over, flesh side down, for the last step of cooling. You’ll get crispy skin.
Seafood Nutrition Partnership created a new one-page resource highlighting best choices when it comes to omega-3 in various species.
Health organizations suggest an intake of at least 250 to 500 milligrams of omega-3 EPA+DHA per day. Find out which seafood has the most omega-3s:
The staff, Board of Directors, and chef ambassadors of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership invite the public to join us in sharing the health impacts they have achieved through the Healthy Heart Pledge. We invite you to share your story!
Seafood Nutrition Partnership is a 501(c)3 with a mission to inspire a healthier America through partnerships and outreach to raise awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood.
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