Greens shouldn't get all the hype
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Potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips, and other (literally) light bites get overshadowed by more vibrant fruits and veggies (after all, colorful recipes are more Insta-worthy), but they have serious performance-boosting properties. Here's why, plus some creative recipes that prove neutrals are anything but boring.
Photo: Ted Cavanaugh
Your Muscles Will Get Stronger
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Parsnips and potatoes are rich in potassium, which helps prevent weakness, muscle fatigue, and cramps, experts say. Only about 3 percent of us get enough of this crucial mineral (it's one of the nutrition goals most Americans fail to meet). Potatoes have almost 50 percent more of it than bananas do.
You'll Improve Your Endurance
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Easily digestible carbs—the kinds that are plentiful in pears and potatoes—quickly convert to fuel in your body, giving you the steady energy you need to power through a tough workout, experts say. (So get your carbs in pre-workout.) Other white foods, such as turnips and leeks, are high in nitrate, which can make your cardiovascular system more efficient and decrease the amount of oxygen you need during exercise so you're extra-speedy, according to a review published in Sports Medicine. These veggies also boost blood flow to your muscles, helping you work harder and longer.
You'll Recover Faster
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Cyclists who ate pears before, during, and after their workouts biked faster and recovered more quickly than those who had only water, according to a study at the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. The combination of healthy carbs and a blend of polyphenols in the fruit speeds up the muscle-healing process, study author David C. Neiman explains. The vitamin C in pears and other fruit can also boost your immunity, which can dip postworkout. (Here: other ways to naturally boost your immune system.)