Our president's dad may hate this
cruciferous all-star, but one cup of broccoli contains a hearty dose of calcium,
as well as manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. And that's in
addition to its high concentration of vitamins including A, C, and K and the
phytonutrient sulforaphane, which studies at Johns Hopkins University suggest
has powerful anticancer properties.
"One cup a day will do the trick,"
says Bowerman. Try cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, or cabbage for
variation, as all possess many of the same nutritional qualities. "Broccoli may
also help reduce excess estrogen levels in the body, thanks to its indole
3-carbinol content," says celebrity trainer Gunnar Petersen.
A renowned muscle builder, spinach is also
rich in vitamin K, which has been shown to bolster bone-mineral density (thus
protecting against osteoporosis) and reduce fracture rates. Spinach is also high
in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and even selenium, which may help
protect the liver and ward off Alzheimer's.
One more reason to add it to
your diet: A study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that the carotenoid
neoxanthin in spinach can kill prostate cancer cells, while the beta-carotene
fights colon cancer. "Popeye was on to something," says Bowerman. "Eat one cup
of cooked spinach, or two cups raw, four times a week.
Like bananas, this fuzzy fruit is high in
bone-protecting potassium. "They're also rich in vitamin C and lutein, a
carotenoid that can help reduce the risk of heart disease," says Bowerman. "I
try to eat at least one or two a week after exercising." Freeze them for a
refreshing energy kick, but don't peel the skin: It's edible and packed with
Athletes and performers are familiar with the
calming effect of bananas a result of the fruit's high concentration of
tryptophan, a building block of serotonin. But their real benefit comes from
potassium, an electrolyte that helps prevent the loss of calcium from the
"Bananas also bolster the nervous system, boost immune function,
and help the body metabolize protein," says Bass. "One banana packs a day's
worth of potassium, and its carbohydrate content speeds recovery after strenuous
This crunchy cruciferous vegetable is more
than the filler that goes with shrimp in brown sauce. "Bok choy is rich in
bone-building calcium, as well as vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron,
beta-carotene, and potassium," says celebrity trainer Teddy Bass. Potassium
keeps your muscles and nerves in check while lowering your blood pressure, and
research suggests that beta-carotene can reduce the risk of both lung and
bladder cancers, as well as macular degeneration. Shoot for a cup a day.
Also known as prunes, these
dark shrivelers are rich in copper and boron, both of which can help prevent
osteoporosis. "They also contain a fiber called inulin, which, when broken down
by intestinal bacteria, makes for a more acidic environment in the digestive
tract," says Bowerman. "That, in turn, facilitates calcium absorption." Enjoy
four or five a day to strengthen your bones and boost your energy.