We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational, badass stories and studies from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories and studies that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing, why it's important, and why Spartans need to pay attention.
You've heard it all before: "Eating only these five foods changed my life," "This is the magic bullet," and even, "This diet will solve all your problems." At this point, most of us are conditioned to take those grandiose claims at face value, to write them off as blanket, baseless statements that have been repeated a hundred times. But here's one you might have not heard before — and one that might even save your life.
According to MarketWatch's report on data gathered from a study — published in the European Journal of Epidemiology — of over 50,000 people over the course of 23 years in Denmark, those who ate just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables every day not only showed lower blood pressure levels, but were also 12 to 26 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
As the leading cause of death in the world, cardiovascular disease kills nearly 18 million people each year — including one in four Americans — and also exceeds U.S. deaths attributed to cancer and COVID-19. The study's researchers suggested consuming leafy greens (such as kale, arugula, chard, and spinach), beetroot, parsley, Chinese cabbage, celery, radishes, and turnips to combat the common killer.
Related: Five Ways to Eat More Vegetables
“Our results have shown that by simply eating one cup of raw (or half a cup of cooked) nitrate-rich vegetables each day, people may be able to significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease,” said researcher Catherine Bondonno, according to MarketWatch.
Applying a Spartan Diet for Lifelong Health
Spartans know that trendy fad diets and tantalizing catch-alls that tout the cure to all of life's ailments are seldom the answer to building a healthy, permanent lifestyle. Intense restriction of foods that fuel your training and help your body rebuild and recover properly might help you shed a few pounds, but the reality is that you won't just be losing fat — you'll be losing hard-earned muscle, motivation, and the relentless energy you need to continue crushing every race.
A whole-food, unprocessed, and consistent diet is the Spartan way of life. Eating more raw fruits and vegetables and whole grains, cutting back on alcohol consumption (if not completely eradicating it), getting more lean protein, and drinking plenty of water helps you build a strong foundation for all of the obstacles that life (and races) will throw at you, and optimizes your overall health and longevity.
“Our bodies are self-regulating, self-healing, self-regenerating," clinical nutritionist Fred Bisci, Ph.D., said. "If the air was clean, our lifestyle was devoid of processed food, and we had less stress, living to 150 would not be out of reach. Maybe longer.”
There's no way around it — you need to eat more vegetables to sustain the epic activity levels of a Spartan. And if you want to live a long, healthy life that allows you to continue training hard and toeing the start line for as long as possible, a fad diet isn't the answer. There's a reason why trendy diets that don't tell you what you need to hear — "eat your vegetables" — don't work, and there's scientific proof as to why "eating your vegetables" does. It can save your life, plain and simple.