by Harmony Heffron

Blueberries recently made the news when companies were discovered putting fake ‘blueberries’ in their products.  Though you now have to be careful to avoid purchasing counterfeit blueberry products, there are plenty of reasons to add this wonder food to your diet.

Rich in antioxidants, blueberries may even prevent some types of diseases, including cancer. A study by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center reports that blueberries may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and reduce fat in the stomach area. High in vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, these berries can keep your body healthy and help your immune system to function well.

Since fresh berries are only available a few months a year, frozen blueberries are a great alternative. They make a fabulous, nutrient-rich addition to health shakes. Just throw them in the blender with everything else!

If you buy fresh berries, check the color. The more blue they are, the more antioxidants they have in them.

Check out our Food Of The Day for more help with eating.

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There is a reason why you see bananas at the end of marathons, triathlons, and obstacle races.  Simply put, you can’t go wrong with eating bananas.  Bananas are concentrated nutrition delivered direct from one raw food, fueling you up with approximate 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 422 mg of potassium.   Muscle cramping has long been documented as being related to low potassium levels.  Anyone who has had their legs lock up at the end of a long race can appreciate this, and should consider grabbing one whenever they are around.

Bananas are easy to eat and digest for the most part. They are easily chewed up and swallowed, even if one is running at 90% intensity.  While everyone manages solid food while exercising differently, the banana seems pretty universally accepted as easy to digest while exercising.

In fact, they are easy on your stomach.

Bananas have long been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. In one study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly reduced acid secretion. In addition, bananas also help activate the cells that compose your stomach lining, producing a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids.

So, when reaching for your coffee in the morning, reach for a banana, too.  When you are heading to workout, grab a banana to go with you for either before, during, or after your workout.  Simply put, you never know when you might need an extra dose of quality raw food calories and potassium.

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Asparagus: Spartan Food of the Day

Heavy in –  Vitamin K, fiber, vitamin B6

Light on – Calories, saturated fat

If weight management is your goal, think about scripting several pounds of asparagus into your plans.  This veggie is a low calorie source of folate, potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. The stalks are heavy in antioxidants, so don’t just cook and eat the tips – just trim off the brown bottom pieces off. (I find these to be great dog treats.)

One cup of asparagus has almost 5 grams of dietary fiber, something important for your digestion.  Long story short, if you are training at peak performance, you will want your digestion system to keep up.  Fiber is your go-to for this.

This is one of those vegetables that seems to defy all the odds in terms of holding up in the fridge, the one item still edible when coming home after a long weekend of racing.

How to Cook Asparagus:

Asparagus can be eaten raw, but is most often steamed to make tenderer.  You can blanch, boil, bake, or grill – being such a hearty vegetable it’s hard to mess up.

Can’t go wrong with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Just add fire.

Sources:

Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2002. Print.

“U.S. Department of Agriculture.” U.S. Department of Agriculture. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.

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