Health & Fitness, Fitness & diet, Fitness & Training

Anthocyanins: The antioxidants to put in your drinks for better endurance

What if we told you that there is a natural method that is as tasty as it is creative for improving your stamina? The secret? Antioxidants called anthocyanins, which could offer a significant advantage to athletes according to recent scientific studies. Adding red fruit to your drinks is probably the most refreshing idea of the season to improve your physical performance. Find out more about anthocyanins and discover some easy recipes!

Anthocyanins: Highly potent antioxidants

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Anthocyanins are red, purple or blue-coloured pigments from the flavonoid family. They are present in many fruits and vegetables, especially berries: they give red fruits their distinctive colours.

A British study associates the consumption of haskap, a red fruit rich in anthocyanins, with a 2% improvement in the running performance of athletes over a distance of 5 km, i.e., a speed increase of about 0.25 km/h. These benefits are thought to be linked to better oxygen management by athletes, reflected in a significant increase in their VO2 max, the maximum oxygen consumption per minute of the body for exertion.

These beneficial effects are explained by the antioxidant activity of anthocyanins, considered to be the best natural flavonoid.

Why is consuming antioxidants important for endurance athletes?

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Foods rich in antioxidants are important for endurance athletes because they help them recover from workouts and improve performance. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals, unstable molecules that play a role in the ageing of the body. During endurance exercise, the body consumes a lot of oxygen to generate energy for the effort, which results in the high production of free radicals.

Although the body has mechanisms to protect itself from free radical damage, these are not always sufficient during prolonged or intense exercise. This is where antioxidants can be valuable. Of course, this is not a quick fix and many other parameters come into play to boost your athletic performance.

Incorporating antioxidant-rich ingredients into your diet is a winning nutritional approach in the long run. In addition to their benefits in combating oxidative stress, anthocyanins play a role in improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation. By eating red fruit regularly, you give yourself every chance to perform well, but also to recover more easily and prevent injuries. Isn’t that a good reason to add strawberries, cranberries, blueberries or raspberries to your drinks?

3 drink recipes to keep you going during endurance events

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Among berries, blackberries and blackcurrants are the richest in anthocyanins. You can also find these pigments in flower petals, such as hibiscus sabdariffa or beetroot. Here are 3 recipes for anthocyanin-rich drinks that will help you go the distance during your endurance events.

Red fruit smoothie recipe


  • 300 g red fruit (strawberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, etc.)
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 2 yoghurts

Preparation: gently wash the red fruit and remove the stems. Add the lime juice and yoghurt, then blend.

Fruity recovery drink


  • 500 ml unsweetened cranberry or pomegranate juice
  • 200 ml sparkling water

Preparation: simply mix the cranberry or pomegranate juice with sparkling water. You can add a little honey or agave syrup if you want to sweeten this refreshing drink.

Cherry and beetroot juice


  • 500 g pitted cherries
  • 300 g beets, peeled and cubed

Preparation: place the cherries and beets in a blender and blend until smooth. You can add a little water if necessary. Enjoy immediately! This antioxidant and vitamin-rich juice is perfect for post-workout recovery.

Discover other fruit juice recipes specially designed for athletes.

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Yarahmadi M, Askari G, Kargarfard M, et al. The effect of anthocyanin supplementation on body composition, exercise performance and muscle damage indices in athletes. Int J Prev Med. 2014;5(12):1594-1600.

Howatson, G.; Snaith, G.C.; Kimble, R.; Cowper, G.; Keane, K.M. Improved Endurance Running Performance Following Haskap Berry (Lonicera caerulea L.) Ingestion. Nutrients 2022, 14, 780.

Fang J. Classification of fruits based on anthocyanin types and relevance to their health effects. Nutrition. 2015 Nov-Dec;31(11-12) :1301-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.04.015. Epub 2015 May 15. PMID: 26250485.