Launching a new series of blogs for 2016 on the importance of introducing certain foods in your diet, coming up is: SWEET POTATOES.
DEFINITION AND TYPES:
Sweet potato skin colors come in various shades of creamy white, yellow-orange, tan, reddish-purple and red. Sweet potato flesh colors come in shades of orange, yellow-orange, white, purple and red. These are the most common:
The most common sweet potato in Vietnam, is the Japanese type, but it is very easy to find the purple sweet potato in local markets. To know the flesh colour, just scratch the tip of the potato so you can ‘look inside’, do not break them as they will not be purchased and therefore go to waste. You might be able to find the garnet sweet potato at fancier shops like Annam.
Sweet potatoes are a low-calorie, high fiber and nutrient –packed ingredient that can be used in many ways. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, especially good for athletes that train many hours a week. They have been the staple of the native Americans, and for a good reason!
Sweet potatoes also are rich in vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene); they are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and phosphorus.
In addition sweet potatoes:
1. are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.
2. are a good source of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that this crucial vitamin plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity, and is essential to helping us cope with stress. It even appears to help protect our body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.
3. contain Vitamin D which is critical for immune system and overall health at this time of year. Both a vitamin and a hormone, vitamin D is primarily made in our bodies as a result of getting adequate sunlight. You may have heard about seasonal affective disorder (or SAD, as it is also called), which is linked to inadequate sunlight and therefore a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin Dplays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the thyroid gland.
4. contain iron. Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.
5. are a good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the population in North America may be deficient in this important mineral.
6. are a source of potassium, one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.
7. are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.
8. their rich orange color indicates that they are high in carotenoids like beta carotene and other carotenoids, which is the precursor to vitamin A in your body. Carotenoids help strengthen our eyesight and boost our immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that help ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging. Studies at Harvard University of more than 124,000 people showed a 32 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer in people who consumed a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet. Another study of women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer conducted by researchers at Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest blood concentrations of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence.
9. are extremely versatile. Try them roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients. Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods.
Don’t like reading? Check out this great infographics from our friends at www.positivehealthwellness.com.
HOW TO CONSUME:
As mentioned, sweet potatoes are so versatile; you can have them
– boiled and mashed with a bit of olive oil
– boiled and baked as sweet potatoes fries
– jacket potatoes
– boiled and blended with some beans and oats for high protein vegan burgers
– shredded and baked into hash brown
– as a base to your cookies or sweet cakes like the Koreans love
– sweet potato and lentils soup
– sweet potato and coconut creamy soup
– sweet potato shepherd’s pies
– sweet potatoes and zucchini green thai curry
– sweet potatoes and peas curry balls
– sweet potatoes and chickpeas falafel
La Holista uses sweet potatoes almost everyday at dinner in the shape of baked french fries. Do you use them? Let us know below why do you love them too…