This week I'm trying out EnergyBits and will be doing a giveaway later this week, until then I"m going to be talking about nutrition and other things until the big giveaway. It's all leading somewhere.
Today let's talk... SUPERFOODS!
What are superfoods?
A superfood is "a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being" (thanks Google!). The term started being used more regularly and then took off in the late 80's as we started obsessing about dieting and "quick fixes" for weight issues.
Superfoods are NOT a way to "drop 10 pounds in a week" or "eat whatever you want and lose weight", these are nutrient rich foods not the magic pill for weightloss.
So now that we know what they are, let's talk about some different superfoods that really are super. Runners can really benefit some some of these
They are an excellent source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A is important to eye health and beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant in the body. Actually sweet potatoes are full of antioxidants like storage protein sporamin which helps repair the potato and acts as an antioxidant even within the digestive tract. Purple sweet potatoes contain cyanidins and peonidins work to reduce heavy-metals and free radicals in your system.
One other amazing benefit? They have anti-inflammatory properties. It helps block 4 main factors which cause inflammatin and in animal studies decrease in brain and nerve tissue inflammation was shown after eating sweet potatoes
Summary - Lots of Vitamin A, antioxidants and some anti-inflammatory benefits.
Don't underestimate the power of properly steamed broccoli. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits which helps to calm an over reactive nervous system. Also, among all commonly consumer cruciferous vegetables it stands out as the best for a punch of vitamin C. It also contains anti-oxidants to complete the 2 phase cycle needed which is a rare occurrence in one food. Broccoli has isothiocyanates which acts as a Phase 1 modifier and then bridge the gap to Phase 2, the detoxification.
Grapefruits are great! While the grapefruit diet is a sham we can all agree this food really is pretty super. Lots of vitamin C which helps reduce risk of getting sick, it also kicks of an anti-inflammatory chain reaction and acts as an antioxidant. Also, if you stick to pink grapefruit you'll get a dose of the antioxidant lycopene (most associated with tomatoes) and can reduce free-radicals and stop cell damage.
It also contains pectin, a soluble fiber, which is shown to reduce the risk of heart disease through counter acting cholesterol in the diet. Red grapefuit helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides, blond grapefruit will not have the triglyceride benefits.
Really the benefits go on and on and the good news, you can get some of these benefits from grapefruit juice!
Kale is a great cruciferous vegetable (a group of vegetables that some recommend gettin 5-10 cups of a week). It's high in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C which are vital to the human body. It also has antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene which help to reduce oxidative stress and keeps blood vessels healthy.
It also is high in Omega-3 (for a vegetable) which has been shown to help with inflammation and combining this with vitamin K that is also known to reduce inflammation, this is a one two punch!
Algae is the close cousin of kelp and seaweed and both of these has been touted as a great food for key nutrients. It's high in protein and B-12 (normally only found in meat protein) and contains many antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene. It also has iron, another mineral that is great for us runners!
It's even been used to help fight starvation in nations and has been touted as the food that will help avoid a food crisis because it's easy to grow and packed with so many vitamins, minerals, and protein. Amazing!
Want some more superfoods? Check out this list from Runner's World!