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The Best Vegetables for Youth Sports Athletes

In the fast-paced world of youth sports, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for fueling performance, supporting growth, and promoting overall health and well-being. While carbohydrates, proteins, and fats often take center stage, vegetables play a crucial role in providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that contribute to optimal athletic performance. Let’s explore the best vegetables for youth sports athletes to include in their diet to fuel their bodies and enhance their performance on the field or court.

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are nutritional powerhouses packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These vegetables are rich in iron, which is essential for delivering oxygen to muscles and supporting energy metabolism. Leafy greens also provide magnesium, which helps regulate muscle and nerve function, as well as vitamin K, which plays a role in bone health and blood clotting. Incorporating leafy greens into meals and snacks can help youth athletes stay energized and perform at their best.

2. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are colorful vegetables that provide a wide range of nutrients beneficial for youth athletes. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports immune function and helps repair and regenerate tissues damaged during exercise. Bell peppers also contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein, which help reduce inflammation and protect cells from oxidative stress. Adding bell peppers to salads, sandwiches, or stir-fries can add a burst of flavor and nutrition to meals.

3. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a nutrient-dense root vegetable that serves as an excellent source of carbohydrates for energy. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady source of fuel for sustained performance during training and competition. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber, which support immune function, muscle recovery, and digestive health. Whether roasted, mashed, or baked, sweet potatoes are a versatile and delicious addition to any youth athlete’s diet.

4. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable known for its high nutritional value and health benefits. It is rich in vitamin K, which plays a role in bone health and blood clotting, as well as vitamin C, which supports immune function and collagen production. Broccoli also contains antioxidants such as sulforaphane and glucosinolates, which help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases. Adding broccoli to pasta dishes, omelets, or stir-fries can help youth athletes meet their daily vegetable intake and support their overall health and performance.

5. Carrots

Carrots are crunchy vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which plays a role in vision health and immune function. They also provide fiber, potassium, and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Carrots make a convenient and portable snack for youth athletes, whether enjoyed raw with hummus or sliced into salads and wraps.


Incorporating a variety of vegetables into the diet is essential for youth sports athletes to support their growth, performance, and overall health. Leafy greens, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots are just a few examples of nutrient-dense vegetables that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By including these vegetables in meals and snacks, youth athletes can fuel their bodies, enhance their performance, and lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

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About the author: 

Amy Masters is a sports mom, coach, and club administrator. She has been coaching youth sports for more than 10 years. She started Jr Lions Field Hockey, the youth recreation program for the Hunterdon County community growing it from 40 players in year 1 to 150 players by year 3. A few years later, she saw the love and competitiveness grow then started Omega Field Hockey Club serving NJ and PA players. Before coaching, she was a collegiate field hockey player for Lock Haven University. In her spare time (lol), she is head of marketing for iSport360 and the co-editor of the Youth Sports Survival Guide. The Youth Sports Survival Guide is the largest youth sports newsletter in the world. 

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March 21, 2024

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