It may seem as though you hear about a new “superfood” every week. Whether the buzz is about kale, quinoa or kefir, there are always people claiming they’ve found the next best thing since sliced bread. While some foods are heralded for the wrong reasons, there are a number of nutritious superfoods that can be beneficial to dancers. Performers are notoriously busy and expend a lot of energy each day, so it’s essential that they get optimal nutrients from the foods they’re eating. Whether you’re a dance student or instructor, try these choices – each a super food for dancers that will keep you fueled throughout your craziest days.
1. Almond butter
Peanut butter is a go-to for many athletes in need of an energy boost, but this related product is an even better option. Dance Spirit magazine explained that almond butter contains a lot of protein, monounsaturated fat and minerals. It trumps peanut butter with it’s 9 milligrams of iron and almost 700 mg of calcium per serving.
You can eat almond butter in the same ways you would any other nut butter. Spread it on a sandwich with fresh fruit preserves for a nutritious and energizing lunch, or dip slices of apples into it for a snack after rehearsal.
2. Sweet potatoes
Carbohydrates are one of the best sources of energy for athletes, but it’s important to choose complex foods that contain other vitamins and minerals as well as carbs. The Women’s Sports Foundation explained that sweet potatoes are a great option for dancers, as these orange spuds contain tons of vitamins A, C and B-6, as well as significant amounts of potassium and manganese.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy sweet potatoes is as a baked side dish. Scrub down your spuds, pierce them with a fork a few times, then bake them for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This should leave you with tender, delicious potatoes that taste great alongside chicken, steak or another protein-packed entree.
Many athletes know that they lose electrolytes when they sweat, and if these nutrients aren’t replaced, it can lead to muscle spasms and cramps. You may be tempted to down an energy drink to get your fill of electrolytes, but celery is an all-natural option that provides the same benefits. These stalks contain plenty of potassium and sodium, as well as other important nutrients.
“Celery can help during long practices and rehearsals,” Ally Wagner, a nutritionist who works with the Cincinnati Ballet, explained to Dance magazine. “It’s also high in fiber and vitamin K and low in calories.”
Throw back to your childhood and create “ants on a log” with celery sticks, almond butter and raisins! It’s a fun, tasty and healthy snack that will help you power through practice.
4. Goji berries
You probably don’t have this ingredient in your pantry, but it’s worth picking up a package the next time you’re at the store. Goji berries are rich in vitamin A, C and iron. Dance Spirit magazine also noted that the tart berries contain betaine, which may help calm nerves and promote muscle growth. These properties are what make the ingredient popular for athletes.
Incorporate this superfood into your diet by eating goji berries mixed with Greek yogurt as a mid-afternoon snack. This makes for a well-balanced mini meal with plenty of calcium and protein. You can also find goji berries covered in chocolate, but opt for dark chocolate varieties, as this sweet covering contains beneficial antioxidants. Don’t overindulge in chocolaty berries, however, as too much sugar can lead to a mid-rehearsal slump.