Bugs Bunny’s favorite food hardly needs a introduction as carrots are well known and loved by young and old. While we usually associate carrots as being orange in color, fact is, carrots grow in a variety of colors including white, yellow, red, or purple, the latter being the original variety. Each color variety responds to the different nutrients each variety has to offer. Although carrots are shipped around the country from California throughout the year, locally grown carrots are in season during the summer and fall when they are the freshest and most flavorful. Some of the health benefits carrots carry include compounds that help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer while also promoting good vision (thanks to beta-carotene). Mom was definitely on track when she made sure we all ate our carrots. Carrots are extremely high (more than 686% of the daily recommended intake) of vitamin A. Other nutrients found on carrots include vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, vitamin b6, manganese, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, molybdenum, phosphorus, magnesium and folate.
One nutrient that carrots are highly associated with are carotenoids. Carotenoids are chemicals that act as antioxidants and exist in the pigment that colors plants and animals. The carotenoids in carrots are the primary nutrient in carrots that helps protect against heart disease. In studies conducted to examine the association of diets high in carotenoids and heart disease researchers found that high-carotenoid diets were associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. High-carotenoid diets are also associated with a reduction in the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer as well as cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. Research has also suggested that diets high in carotenoids may be inversely associated with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.
Carrots have an astronomically high amounts of vitamin A. If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you’re frequently exposed to second hand smoke then making a vitamin A rich foods part of your healthy eating habits may save your life according to researchers at Kansas State University. Researchers found that a carcinogen found in cigarettes can cause Vitamin A deficiency. Data showed that when vitamin A levels were low in their subjects the score (occurrences) of emphysema, a lung disease primarily found in smokers, was higher. Once a diet rich in vitamin a was introduced the occurrences of emphysema dropped drastically. This research helped to further prove that vitamin A is a strong promoter of lung health. The vitamin A found in carrots is also a great promoter of a healthy scalp. Since a healthy scalp is essential for shiny, well conditioned hair, adding carrots to your meal or snack rotations would be a excellent choice.
Carrots can be enjoyed in variety of ways. The most common ways are raw and steamed. Shredded raw carrots or chopped carrots make great toppings to salads. A quick nutritious soup can be made by puréeing boiled carrots and potatoes in a blender or food processor and adding herbs and spices to tastes. Freshly squeezed carrot juice combined with soy milk and bananas make a nutrient-dense breakfast shake.
You’ve started a walking program, and after a few weeks of consistent improvement you’ve moved up to jogging. Now spring is coming and you feel you’re ready to pick up the pace and run your first 5k race. A 5k- a 3.1 mile race- is the perfect length for beginners to start with. To start preparing your mind and body for the race you must first start by setting a realistic training schedule to keep yourself motivated and give yourself ample time to progress to the next level. Starting a running program may improve many facets of your life by building your cardiovascular system, boosting your self-esteem, and may even help strengthen social ties all while enjoying the great outdoors. From newbies to expert runners, a local 5k race is a great way to get in shape and improve your sense of health and well being.
So let’s start with setting attainable goals. While the length of a 5k may be a relatively easy goal to achieve as someone new to running, designing the training program can present a bit of a challenge. Start out with a simple program that allows you to succeed and move forward only when you feel comfortable during your current stage. Do not push your limits as this will help prevent burn out as well as injuries. Keep in mind that your main goal is to reach the finish line. With your first race you should enjoy the run and feel good for having reached your goal rather than trying to achieve a certain time.
Depending on your training base, a five-week program is usually recommended as it should be just enough time to have you running for the full 3.1 miles. Your first step, or stop rather, should be a visit with your physician or primary care provider for a complete medical exam to ensure that it is safe for you to begin a running program. Start with a walk/run program four times per week for about 20 to 25 minutes. Plan to add a little variety in your training by alternating every other day with 20 to 30 minutes of some type of aerobic cross-training activity to help build your cardiovascular fitness. Pick a starting distance that you are comfortable with, be it half a mile or a mile and a half. Once you pick your starting distance and you begin to feel more comfortable with it, try increasing your distance and duration 10 to 15% each week. An example would be to increase the duration of your walk/run from 25 minutes to 28 minutes in your second week.
Varying your runs during the week helps to break the monotony. Choose one or two days a week to run your distance and mix it up by using the remaining days to focus on shorter, harder runs or interval type sessions. Be sure to take one to two days off per week so that your body can recover. Remember gradual training is the key to long-term success and rest time is just as key to your success as the time you spend running.
Remember to put your safety above everything else. This starts with wearing proper running shoes that suit your individual needs. No two running shoes are created a like. Also be mindful of the surface on which you are running. The best surface is a rubber track. If you don’t have access to a track then asphalt would be the next best choice followed by dirt or silt along side the road. All of which help to lessen the amount of shock and stress on the joints.
Other helpful tips include:
- Never run on an empty take. Consume a light carbohydrate snack about one and a half hours before your runs and be sure do drink plenty of fluids ( at least 16 ounces two to three hours before your run). Plan to drink fluids during your run (7 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes) and eat a light carbohydrate and protein snack soon after the run.
- If you’re not familiar with the race course check it out on one of your training runs or do a drive by. Believe it or not it is easier to get mentally and physically fatigued when you don’t know where your run ends or how much farther you have to go.
On the day of the actual race make sure you avoid running at a pace that is faster than your training pace. Also there is some running etiquette that you should be aware of. Don’t cut someone off unless you’re at least two paces in front of them. Make sure there is no one behind you if you’re going to throw away a cup or decide to spit after a water session. Keep moving when you cross the finish line to prevent traffic jams. Also, if you’re running with a team, cheer in your teammates that finish behind you. And lastly, enjoy the race and the wonderful success you have earned!!
For more information on running visit www.americanrunning.org.
Until next week…