Over the past couple decades; the salad has evolved into the ultimate representation of a healthy diet, something only the most nutritious conscious people choose for a meal in order to get the recommended 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make salads more appetizing though, the nutritious value has dropped dramatically. For example, salads now usually contain iceberg lettuce to provide more crunch, conveying to the consumer that what they’re eating is so fresh that the food crunches in their mouth. Yet this “vegetable” is devoid of the nutrients found in darker leaves such as spinach. Furthermore, salad dressings have evolved into an ingredient list that looks like a chemistry experiment, generally containing higher amounts of sugar in some form rather than the more healthy fats such as olive oil (see SpartaPoint 11/20/09). One of the driving factors behind the recommendation for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables is the antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients that help fight chronic disease such as cancer. Perhaps the most effective vegetable in this regard is the cruciferous family, plants whose four petals resemble a cross. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, arugula, and kale are just some of the examples of cruciferous vegetables. A research study out of Arizona State in 2000 found iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, french fried potatoes, bananas and orange juice were the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Besides the fact that orange juice is only useful to cure a diabetic coma (see SpartaPoint 9/24/09), vegetables were not even in among the top 5 (remember iceberg lettuce doesn’t count!). In fact, dark green vegetable consumption averaged 0.2 servings a day, and the study specifically cited the extremely low intake of cruciferous vegetable intake. At Sparta, most of our athletes do not arrive in our care with a solid regimen of cruciferous vegetables because they don’t taste very good. Convincing them is simple – cruciferous vegetables provide unique nutrients and fiber to protect against disease and help recovery, therefore subsequent workouts and sport performance can be maintained and performed at a higher level. In fact, these plants even reduce the effects that estrogen has in your body, increasing the benefits of testosterone such as greater strength. So you don’t have to eat cruciferous, in fact if you’re competing against our athletes, just stick to that iceberg lettuce with processed salad dressing, as it’s much easier.
July 7, 2010
Are you eating cruciferous?