Super Food of the Week: Bell Peppers
Bell peepers boast a wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture. Bell peppers, with their beautifully shaped glossy exteriors, come in a wide spectrum of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown to black. Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables usually with three or four lobes. Usually ranging from two to five inches in diameter and two to six inches in length, the inside is a cavity with edible bitter sweet seeds and a white spongy core. Bell peppers are not “hot”. They actually contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin, the compound responsible for the “hotness” found in other peppers. Bell peppers also have an excellent nutritional resume. Some of the nutrients found in bell peppers include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, vitamin K, folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin E, and tryptophan. Bell peppers are pretty low in calories with one cup of raw sliced bell pepper yielding only twenty-four calories.
One of the more notable benefits of the nutrients found in bell peppers is protection against free radicals. When it comes to “eating your colors” for optimal nutritional value this certainly holds true with bell peppers. Brightly colored bell peppers are rich of some of the best nutrients available. To start peppers are excellent sources of vitamin A and vitamin C, to very powerful antioxidant. One cup of sliced raw bell peppers will provide about 290% of the daily value of vitamin C and about 104% of the daily value of vitamin A. As we all know antioxidants help to protect our bodies from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can contribute to the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, cataracts, joint pain and damage, the wheezing and airway constriction of asthma and many other health issues. By providing antioxidants, bell peppers may help to prevent or reduce many of these symptoms by getting straight to the source of the problem. A diet rich in antioxidants help protect all cells in the body from free radicals, including your hair cells.
For over all optimal health, red peppers are one of the few foods that contain lycopene, whose consumption has been inversely correlated with prostate cancer as well as cancers of the cervix, bladder and pancreas. Recent research has suggests that individuals whose diets are lacking in lycopene-rich foods are actually at a greater risk for developing these types of cancers. Furthermore, the fiber found in peppers can help reduce risk of colon cancer by reducing the amount of contact colon cells have with cancer-causing toxins found in foods or produced in the gut by certain types of bacteria.
Bell peppers are commonly known as the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world, due to their availability in many colors. As with nutrients, different color varieties of bell peppers offer a different taste. Green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavor, while red, orange, and yellow peppers are sweeter and almost fruity in flavor. All however, have a wonderful, slightly watery crunch. Bell peppers can be finely chopped and added to tuna or chicken salad, or sautéed with celery and onions, then combined with tofu, chicken or seafood for a simple and delicious Louisiana Creole dish.
Fit Tip of The Week: Social Fitness
Maintaining a strong social network and a physically active lifestyle can be difficult to balance, especially with warmer months approaching. However, merging your social life with your fitness program you can get the best of both worlds. As a bonus, you’ll have a great time, strengthen your friendships, even making new friends and stay on track with your fitness goals. Here are few tips on how merge the two so that you may both enjoy your summer and a great workout.
1. Go for a hike. What better way to enjoy the beauty of nature and get some fresh air. Gather up your friends and family and plan a day of fun at a local state or national park. Bring your camera, plenty of water, and pack a lunch for a picnic.
2. Team sports. Recreational leagues are available for men and women of all ages, from beginners to the seasoned athlete. Your team will meet for practices and games and may even travel to tournaments. Check with your local parks and recreation department for softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, or basketball leagues.
3. Join or start a walking group. This can be ladies-only, gents-only, or a mixed group. While you are walking let the conversation flow as you rack up the miles and move towards better health. A walking group can be taken just about anywhere. Your neighborhood, malls, parks and even beaches are great places for walking. Take turns leading the walk and encourage everyone to map out a different course for variety. If time allows reward yourself with a cool beverage together after your walk. If you have a little one, you can plop them in the stroller and bring them along with you, or even start a moms’ walking group.
4. Break out your dancing shoes. This one is one of my favorites. Even if you’ve never danced a step a day in your life, it is never too late to learn how. Learning to swing, tango, rumba, or do the Electric Slide or Cupid Shuffle, is fun, energizing and a great way to sneak in some exercise. Some communities do offer dance clubs where members meet regularly and learn and practice together. Some may even have competitions to add extra motivation and an element of interest.
5. Join a group fitness class. Invite your friends to sign up for an exercise class together. There are endless varieties of group fitness classes available from: water aerobics, yoga, Pilates, spinning, Zumba Fitness classes, core conditioning classes, kettlebell classes, and so much more. You’re sure to find something to suit everyone’s ability, give you a great workout, and a few laughs.
6. Small group personal training. This trend has been growing in popularity in recent years, mostly among couples but friends can get in on this too. Working with a certified personal trainer can help break through any fitness challenges and reach new levels of health and fitness. Small group training sessions are more fun and often less costly than one-on-one sessions.
7. Get out of town. Take an active vacation together. Include walking or bike tours, kayaking or golf into your “girls’ weekend”. Take a tour of museums and historical sites, and enjoy your time with your friends and squeezing in some physical activity. You can even bring your dance shoes along and hit the local dance clubs.
There is something wonderfully unique about sharing experiences with friends and there’s nothing quite like a workout partner to keep you motivated. Combining your active life and your social life helps to enhance them both to bring about a great workout and even better memories to last a lifetime.
Until next week…