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In a groundbreaking study, the nutrient-dense fruit sliced 20 seconds off trial subjects’ running times
If your blender has been sitting idle as of late, a study from scientists at Northumbria University might tempt you to wheel it out of the cupboard and blitz up a smoothie ahead of your next long run: haskap berries can improve endurance runners’ athletic performance by potentially game-changing levels, their research concluded.
Found in the cooler climes of Northern Hemisphere countries such as Canada, Japan, Russia, and Poland, haskap berries are among the most nutrient-dense fruits on the planet, packing two to three times more antioxidants than blueberries. They contain extremely high concentrations of anthocyanins and polyphenols, two naturally-occurring compounds known for their anti-inflammatory and vascular benefits.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial saw 30 male recreational runners tackle a series of endurance tests. Those who had consumed haskap berries enjoyed two-pronged performance boost. Firstly, it took them longer to tire out. And secondly, they ran faster. Over a five-kilometre (three mile) distance, those who had consumed the berries saw their overall time improve by around 20 seconds. (continued below)
“These powerful little berries appear to help runners perform better during fatiguing tasks, and increasing running speed over a commonly run distance of five km,” said Glyn Howatson, Professor in Human and Applied Physiology at Northumbria University. “We saw around a 2 per cent improvement in running time performance, which is not trivial. In other words, you run about 0.25km/h quicker over the same distance.”
The mechanics behind the performance boost are not yet fully understood, but Professor Howatson and his team believe the berries may affect runners’ ability to “combat exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress or improve vascular function and oxygen utilisation – or indeed a combination of the three.”
It’s worth noting that the research was commissioned by superfood company Haskapa, which produces and haskap berry juice, but the scientists said the funders had “no role in the study design, data collection, analyses or interpretation of data, in the preparation of the manuscript, or in the decision of where to publish the results”. Smoothies on us.

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