When it comes to fulfilling your daily veggie intake, you can’t really go wrong. As long as you’re not overcooking, or deep frying, you’re on to a winner when you load your plate with vegetables. But there are a select and certain few that punch well above their weight in terms of vitamins, iron and other key components. These top five are the cream of the crop for runners…
Tell me more… it’s a field vegetable with a lot of history. After being used during the harder times of post-war Britain, the neglected beetroot is making a comeback across the UK as a bona fide superfood.
Works best with… salads. Choose either the cooked or pickled variety, and your prep work will be minimal. Alternatively, the pricier raw root can be grated like a carrot, or chopped and thrown in with Sunday spuds for roasting in the oven.
Benefits me because… it’s packed with iron, folic acids, nitrates and betaine. By all accounts, the beetroot is a champion of cardiovascular health. Don’t believe us? A study in 2009 found that consuming beetroot prior to exercise increased stamina by 16% and improved tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
Tell me more… it’s a green plant in the cabbage family. Either eaten raw or cooked, the stalk and small ‘leaves’ are all edible. Little-known fact: broccoli is the result of a careful breeding process that took place during the 6th Century BC in Northern Mediterranean.
Works best with… high-protein meats. Steaming broccoli will give you the best chance of maintaining the vegetable’s key nutrients and vitamins. It’s not uncommon to have this as an afternoon snack too. Sprinkle a small amount of salt and black pepper, toss to coat and your bowl of healthy goodness awaits.
Benefits me because… it’s a body detoxifier with plenty of complex carbohydrates. There’s good reason why this vegetable is prevalent in so many fitness freaks’ diets. The enzyme myronaise has both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory qualities, but this will be destroyed if overcooked.
Tell me more… a relative to the everyday potato, sweet potato belongs to a family of more than 1,000 species (many of which are poisonous).
Works best with… pretty much anything. Much like it’s yellow cousin, the different varieties allow for lots of flexibility. Boiled, mashed, roasted, fried and chipped are just a few to name.
Benefits me because… it’s got a great amount of vitamin C and fiber. As you would expect with any potato, it contains a large amount of carbohydrates, making it perfect for fueling your run.
Tell me more… member of the cabbage family thought to be cultivated in 16th century Belgium. Ever wondered why they pop up during the Christmas months? They come in to season in October, and only last until March.
Works best with: roast dinners. What other answer were we going to give? Sprouts cook rather quickly; so whether you’re boiling, steaming or frying, make sure it’s for no longer than 10 minutes!
Benefits me because: they boost whole health and can help lower cholesterol. If you’re trying to calorie count or indeed, lose a bit of weight, than half a cup of sprouts is only 26.9 calories with a minimal trace of fat.
Tell me more… flowering plant which can grow up to 30cm tall, believed to be of Persian origin. It was only by the 12th century that this leafy green vegetable spread across Europe.
Works best with… eggs for breakfast. Ah, the good old Eggs Florentine, the perfect breakfast. Not a fan? Frying for dinner alongside a chicken breast is quite positively delicious too.
Benefits me because… it contains high levels of chlorohphyll. This powerful pigment can help control hunger, encourage healing, reduce swelling and promote healthy iron levels.