Phytochemicals are simply plant chemicals. Some phytochemicals contain antioxidant properties, which have been touted as a possible preventive measure against heart disease, cancer, and other age-related diseases. This is all well and good, but runners who are more concerned with the shorter-term effects and running-specific vices are probably wondering, "what's in it for me?" Runners are in luck-the reason these antioxidants are heart-healthy is because they increase our resistance to disease and boost our immunity. In this way, us runners can benefit immediately by helping to prevent and overcome illness and injury during high-intensity training.
The phytochemicals with the most antioxidant properties are vitamins C, E, and beta carotene. Vitamin C and beta carotene can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables including onions, cabbage, hot peppers, kale, lemons, strawberries and tomatoes. Vitamin E is a bit harder to find, but you can get a fairly good dose from eggs, wheat germ, and fortified cereals.