Top Ten Foods That Will Boost Recovery

By Athlete's Care on May 28, 2021

It’s no secret that nutrition and sports performance are inextricably linked, and our Toronto sports medicine specialists often give their clients advice on how to optimize their nutritional gains.

That goes doubly for a period of recovery from injury. As your body heals, it is rebuilding internal structures and elements, and it needs those building blocks. In addition, there are many nutrients and compounds that help the body to activate and make the most of its power to heal.

Here’s a look at ten foods and food groups that will help you boost your recovery from injury.

Lean chicken and beef

Lean sources of protein are extremely important to your overall recovery. Protein is a key component of muscle tissue. When your muscles are torn or injured, they lose mass. Protein helps to rebuild, and can also help you minimize muscle loss during the period that you are convalescent and unable to workout at your regular intensity, or even at all.

  • Protein aids in muscle development.
  • Your Toronto sports medicine specialist can help you determine how much protein you need based on your lifestyle and individual needs.


Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are rich in many nutrients, but are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is key to recovery. Of course, there are many other fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C such as bell peppers, strawberries, and kiwi fruit.

  • Vitamin C reduces inflammation.
  • As an antioxidant, it can help minimize free radical damage.
  • It aids in the production of collagen, and promotes healing of skin, muscle and other tissues.
  • It is very important to the generation and health of blood vessels.


Fatty fish

The Omega-3 Fatty Acids in fatty fish such as mackerel, trout and salmon help to control inflammation, which naturally occurs where there has been injury.

  • Walnuts and chia seeds are also good sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
  • Whole foods rather than supplements are the best way to ingest this important nutrient.
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids, present in sunflower or corn oil, are also known to decrease inflammation.


Baked beans & chickpeas

Baked beans and some legumes are good sources of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that can aid in the recovery process. It plays a key role in helping wounded tissues to rebuild. Research shows that not getting enough zinc can slow down your recovery.

  • Meats, shellfish and whole grains also contain zinc.
  • Whole foods are the best way to maintain a balance between zinc and other nutrients.
  • It can also be found in some nuts, such as cashews and almonds.


Cheese & yogourt

Dairy products contain calcium, which – as Mom used to say – is good for your bones. In fact, it’s crucial to their repair. It also helps your muscles to contract properly by aiding the transmission of nerve signals.

  • Broccoli and okra are also good sources of calcium.
  • Almonds contain a significant amount of calcium.


Sunshine & fortified cereals

Vitamin D is a kind of symbiote with calcium, in that it helps the body to absorb the crucial mineral. It is also a natural pain management agent. One recent study showed that boosting Vitamin D intake sped up the healing process.

  • Sunlight is an excellent source.
  • Egg yolks are a good source of Vitamin D.
  • Fatty fish such as sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel are also good sources.
  • Red meat and liver contain Vitamin D.
  • Many breakfast cereals are fortified with Vitamin D.
  • Hard cheeses such as cheddar contain Vitamin D.


Spinach & kale

Vitamin A is an antioxidant, and as such helps protect the body’s cells against damage. It also plays a crucial role in the creation of white blood cells, which fight infection.

  • Carrots are also an excellent source of Vitamin A.
  • Leafy greens contain significant amounts of Vitamin A.
  • Broccoli also contains Vitamin A.


Almonds & avocado

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to control what is called oxidative stress, or the damage to your body by free radicals. It can be exacerbated by injury – even by exercising too much.

  • Spinach is another good source of Vitamin E.
  • It is found it nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils.
  • Asparagus, mango, pumpkin and red bell peppers are also good vegetable sources of Vitamin E.


Blueberries & red cabbage

Anthocyanins are the compounds in fruits and vegetables that gives them a purple, dark red, or blue shade. It reduces inflammation, which reduces aches and pains.

  • Blackberries, raspberries, dark cherries, and blood oranges are other fruits that contain anthocynanins.
  • They are also found in red cabbage, purple potatoes and carrots.
  • They can be found in purple or darkly tinted plants such as purple or black rice, or black soy.


Beets & leafy greens

Nitrates become nitric oxide in the body, a compound that helps to increase the blood flow that is needed to promote healing in the body.

  • Other vegetable sources include celery, lettuce, radishes, spinach and bok choy.
  • Animal sources of nitrates such as ham should be avoided – those nitrates are added to meats through processing, and do not occur naturally.


Diet is always important to good health. When your body is injured, it needs extra nutritional help to heal faster and more fully. If you have any questions about diet or other issues related to recovery from injury, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics for a consultation.