Super snacks for rowers

Nutritionist Jacqueline Birtwisle suggests five nuts and seeds to boost your health


Feeling peckish? Put down the chocolate bar and reach for nuts and seeds, says nutritionist Jacqueline Birtwisle.

1 – Walnuts

Eating a portion of three to four whole nuts (15g) a day could be an important step to health improvement – in particular heart health and cancer prevention. Walnuts are richer than most other nuts in polyunsaturated fats – relatively high Omega-3, but particularly high Omega-6 (linoleic acid). Also great for manganese, copper, vitamin B6, vitamin E and phosphorus and the bioactive plant compounds ellagic acid, catechin and melatonin. Add to some Greek style yoghurt with honey or simply nibble with an apple as a snack!

2 – Pumpkin seeds

Bone health is important for all rowers, so regular inclusion of pumpkin seeds is a fantastic way of getting the oft-forgotten bone important nutrients – zinc, magnesium and phosphorus – into your diet.

Sprinkle on the tops of salads, or add to a trail mix of other seeds, nuts and dried fruit.

Bone health is important for all rowers, so regular inclusion of pumpkin seeds is a fantastic way of getting important nutrients

3 – Flaxseeds

A valuable Omega-3 source for rowers not keen on – or who can’t eat oily fish – as this seeds really punches above its weight. Look for the milled or pre-ground varieties (or grind whole seeds at home) for maximum nutritional benefit. A 10g tablespoon provides 50kcal, 2.2g protein, 4.6g fat – containing a huge 2.4g in Omega-3 fatty acids and a whopping 2.9g in fibre. The high amounts of lignans and fibre (soluble and insoluble) may help gut function (constipation) and cardiac health plus there is research looking at the menopause, certain cancers and diabetes. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons daily – stir into yoghurt or soups.

4 – Brazil nuts

Particularly good for selenium (an antioxidant), magnesium and copper. Whilst selenium is found widely in foods, good sources are harder to come by. Brazil nuts are an excellent source. Whilst concentrations of selenium can vary, just four Brazils could provide 50 micrograms (the daily amount needed is 60-75micrograms). Enjoy with cheese, dates and oatcakes or covered in dark chocolate! Not too many though, and watch any supplements, as the upper safe limit for selenium is around 400 micrograms.

Cacao and nut butter porridge

Adding cacao powder will make your porridge oats really tasty! Watch our video here.

5 – Fennel seeds

Okay, strictly not a seed but the whole fruit of a fennel plant may be useful for rowers to eat. Why? They are a cheap and portable lightweight source of nitrates (beetroot, celery and spinach are other good sources). When chewed after eating, they boost nitrite content in saliva. Remember how beetroot can boost nitric oxide production with the effect of opening up blood vessels and lowering blood pressure? It seems scientists have found fennel seeds can too. The research is early days, but the worst it can do is give you fresh breath after a meal!


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