Nutrition & Weight Loss: Essential Foods

Runners Need More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are vital for good health. Here's how to eat more!

By Liz Applegate Ph.D.

The produce aisle at your local grocery store stocks almost every food you need to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other health ailments. Yet few runners eat as many fruits and vegetables as they should.

Many produce-skimpers fall into one of two categories: those who avoid fruits and vegetables because they don't like them or don't know how to store or cook them, and those who want to eat more of them but aren't sure of the best types to buy. This second group often wonders if conventionally grown produce contains cancer-causing pesticides and if organic vegetables harbor harmful E. coli or other germs.

Whichever category you fall into, I'll tell you what you need to know to enjoy more fresh produce. Then be prepared to pile your plate with five to nine daily servings.

Clean Cuisine

Should you choose organic fruits and vegetables because they're cleaner and safer than those sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals? Probably. Organic produce and grains do have lower levels of pesticide residues compared with conventionally grown food.

Of course, you're better off eating conventionally grown produce than eating no produce at all. And the cleanest vegetable is the one that you wash well. Use these tips when choosing produce and ridding it of pesticides and bacteria such as harmful E. coli:

Opt for organic for certain produce.
A handful of fruits and vegetables-including spinach, apples, peaches, and strawberries-tend to have particularly high levels of pesticide residues. These levels may be risky, particularly for children. So for these, organic may be your safest bet. And take extra care when washing them.

Wash uncut produce.
Use cool running water while scrubbing lightly with a vegetable brush.

Don't soak your fruits or vegetables in a detergent or bleach solution.
Your produce may absorb these substances.

Remove the outer leaves. Peel off the outside layer of leafy vegetables such as lettuce, bok choy, and cabbage.

The Great Nutrition Debate

For years, consumers and researchers have been trying to pinpoint the most nutritious fruit or vegetable. The problem is, no single fruit or vegetable contains high amounts of every nutrient you need. For example, tomatoes and watermelons are high in the phytochemical lycopene, but garlic contains more allicin, and potatoes contain more potassium. Instead of focusing on a handful of power vegetables, try to eat a variety.

Some people also wonder whether particular farming techniques can influence a food's nutritional content. A handful of studies has found a slightly higher vitamin-and-mineral content in some organically grown foods. This is because some organic farming techniques such as crop rotation and the use of animal manure replenish the soil with nutrients. (Organic foods grown without these techniques are usually not higher in vitamins, which is why studies often conflict.)

In the end, any brightly colored fruit or vegetable, whether organic or conventionally grown, is a good source of nutrients. Instead of focusing on which fruit or vegetable you buy, pay more attention to how you store and cook your produce. Follow these tips:

Consider buying frozen.
Fruits and vegetables that are frozen at their peak retain most of their nutrients.

Eat them quickly.
The longer fruits and vegetables sit on your counter or in your fridge, the more nutrients they lose.

Keep them fresh.
Store produce in a plastic bag, free of water, in the produce bin of your refrigerator. You may want to purchase a produce "life extender" such as Extra Life or Fridge Friend, which neutralizes the ethylene gas given off by some produce and slows the decaying process.

Are You Eating Enough?
Here are some quick-and-easy ways to add extra produce to your diet:

Stock up.
If you keep your freezer loaded with frozen fruits, you'll always have the ingredients on hand for a fruit smoothie. Stock up with frozen or canned vegetables so you'll always have them to add to soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.

Add vegetables to every dish.
For example, slip cucumbers, tomatoes, and dark leafy lettuce into your sandwich. Add chopped greens, such as kale or spinach, to a can of soup. Grate carrots, jicama, or radishes into your salad.

Take them on the side.
Serve yourself two cooked or raw servings of vegetables at dinner. For example, if you're steaming broccoli, simply add cauliflower for an extra serving.

Snack on dried fruits.
Dried fruits contain almost as many vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts. Carry dried papaya, apricots, cranberries, or other dried fruit in a sealed plastic bag for easy snacking.

Substitute fruits and vegetables in your recipes.
Take your favorite chili, stew, or meat loaf recipe, cut back on the meat, and add diced onions, peppers, carrots, leeks, or corn. Or take any bread, muffin, or cake recipe and add cranberries, raisins, crushed pineapple, grated carrots, pureed prunes, or chopped dates or figs.

Runners need far more than the 9-13 servings that the rest of the population needs to eat every day. Juice Plus+ is the way to bridge that gap.

Juice Plus+ has been studied in serious athletes, with, so far, three studies published been published:

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2006 (full article) - Study findings: Juice Plus+ supplementation for 2 weeks attenuated the rise in protein carbonlys after 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, even after a 1 week washout.

Journal of Nutrition 2007 (full article) - Study findings: Several indicators of oxidative stress, immunity, and illness improved in 41 highly trained men (special forces) consuming Juice Plus+ for 28 weeks.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2009 (full article) - Study findings: Exercising at 80% VO2max intensity, the Juice Plus+ group (compared to placebo) had lower baseline protein carbonyl levels after 16 and 28 weeks and no exercise-induced protein carbonyl increase. Human mercaptalbumin, another marker of exercise-induced oxidative stress, was also significantly lowered.

The video below provides more information on the 'Juice Plus+ Fitness Effect'.


The Juice Plus+ Fitness Effect

In this video Dr. David Phillips, MD (Sports Medicine and Ironman Triathlete) advocates a Rx for Health & Fitness:

~ exercise

~ stress reduction

~ hydration

~ nutrition

~ supplementation