Loving the BITE: Why Broccoli is Awesome for Cyclists
It’s a lean, mean, green, cancer-, cholesterol-, allergy-, oxidative-stress- and inflammation-fighting-machine. And, you’re in luck because it’s likely sitting in your refrigerator right now.
With over 300 studies to support its whole-food, nutrition power-house goodness, broccoli is a sure-fire way to improve your health. Specifically, it fights 3 cellular problem areas that can contribute to a whole host of chronic disease and health issues: chronic cellular inflammation, oxidative stress, and poor cellular detoxification.
And, it’s no surprise. We all know broccoli is good for us. Look at it, smell it, taste it, feel it, and it screams “healthy food.” My kids, from the 18-month old on up know it’s healthy. In fact, I recommend eating it at least 5 times per week, for at least 2.5 cups per week (you can bet my kids love this). It’s that good for you. And, this week, it’ll taste good too!
Recipe of the week: Summer Pot-Luck Broccoli Salad
- 2 bunches broccoli, stalks cut off, florets separated
- 1 tablespoon coconut or avocado oil
- 6 slices bacon (nitrate-free if possible), optional
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
- 1 cup organic raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup cashews (dry roasted or raw)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup Loving the Bite All-Purpose Avocado Mayo (scroll down to bottom of post)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/8 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
First, steam broccoli on the stovetop or in a microwave for 4-6 minutes or until tender-crisp and bright green. Once cooked, transfer immediately into icy cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, remove into a colander and set aside to drain.
Meanwhile, chop bacon into small cubes and sauté on medium heat until crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Next, make dressing by mixing all dressing ingredients. Add the chopped onion, crumbled bacon and raisins to the dressing and mix well.
Place drained broccoli in a bowl and add cashews. Spoon dressing over broccoli salad and mix well. Allow to set in refrigerator for at least one hour. Enjoy!
So, what’s in it for you? Broccoli provides:
More Vitamin C than an orange, ounce for ounce. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps cyclists fight free radical build-up and oxidative stress.
Fiber to fight cholesterol. While not the most of any vegetable, broccoli’s fiber, especially when steamed or slightly cooked, is great at binding the bile that can increase “bad” cholesterol in your blood stream.
Phytonutrients-galore! Three specific phytonutrients, glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are found in combination in broccoli. They support cellular detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants) and contribute to the formation of isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are special nutrients that encourage the body to produce even more phase-two detoxification CANCER-FIGHTING enzymes. These enzymes actually disrupt potential cancer-causing substances before they have a chance to damage healthy cell DNA.
Vitamin A and Vitamin K. This vitamin one-two punch actually supports adequate levels of a third important vitamin, Vitamin D. If you’re low in vitamin D and supplementing it, like many Americans, adequate vitamin A and K will support a healthy balance of vitamin D, which in turn, contributes to overall health and wellness in many areas of the body.
Flavanoids such as kaempferol. In a world of ever-increasing occurrences of food and environmental allergies, kaempferol can decrease an allergen’s impact on the body. How? It reduces inflammation, which is a part of the body’s response to an allergen. And as athletes, we want all the anti-inflammatory nutrients we can get!
And, of course, more antioxidants. Beta-carotene and lutein are abundant in broccoli, and these antioxidants work with vitamin C to fight all those nasty cell-damaging free radicals.
To serve up enough broccoli each week, try adding it to daily salads, stir-fries, and fresh veggies packed for lunch. Each dinner, include ½-a-plate, or 2-3 cups of vegetables (measured when fresh), in the form of fresh salads, steamed vegetables, sautéed vegetables, or healthy pureed soups. And, for all you raw smoothie drinkers out there, start adding a bit of broccoli to your green smoothies – if you add a little at a time, you will likely not even taste it. Try this detox smoothie:
Bonus Recipe – Broccoli Detox Smoothie:
1 cup berries
½-1 cup spinach
1 small orange
2 small broccoli florets (add 1 add’l small floret each time you make this smoothie to find your threshold)
2 Tbsp walnuts
Protein: Your choice. I recommend 10-20 grams protein from undenatured whey, Greek yogurt, soy protein, hemp seeds, or a mix.
1 tsp honey or small amount of Stevia, if desired
Ice/water for desired consistency
Blend well and enjoy!
It’s time to step it up a notch. More broccoli. Less disease. More wellness. Less sick days. More opportunities to get out and love the bike.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.