Thursday, February 16, 2012

Foods That Heal: #2: SWEET POTATOES!!!! (and RECIPES!)! Does Your Body Hurt? Do You Feel Sick? Want To Prevent Disease? Start Eating These Foods!!

Well folks its time for spotlighting another awesome anti-inflammatory, antioxidant food!  This time I thought I'd pick a starch that may surprise you!  SWEET POTATOES!!  

Yes, thats right folks, I'm talking about potatoes!  But sweet potatoes aren't really "potatoes" as we think of them!  While doing research for this post, I was surprised to discover that sweet potatoes themselves are actually not part of the "potato family"--they are a root vegetable in their own family completely separate from white potatoes & even yams!  So bring on these "potatoes!"   As I shared last week with KALE, in each post I'll share why each food rocks nutritionally and give you some recipe options to try to prepare it!  Once again, I'd love to hear any recipe ideas that you have to cook/prepare yummy meals with the featured "Food That Heals!"  Please share your ideas in the comments below!

And now:  back to the sweet potatoes!

You'll note that sweet potatoes showed up on all three of the anti-inflammatory/antioxidant lists I've shared on the blog.  Thats because they are full of powerful micronutrients that pack a major punch to fight & prevent pain, cancer & even stabilize blood glucose in diabetics!  Extra bonus--they taste delicious & have a relatively low glycemic index which makes them a perfect food to satisfy a sweet tooth!

I really love sweet potatoes--I have since I was young but when I became vegan and sugar-free I got a bit stumped on how to cook them!  I was so used to having them baked with butter and brown sugar or in a casserole with marshmellows!!  Luckily, the vegan blogger world stood ready to provide me with many tasty recipes to enjoy this nutritious & delicious treat!  I'll share some yummy recipes later in the post but first, why do sweet potatoes rock?  Remember, I'm a doctor but still engaged in my own nutrition education so I'll do the best I can explaining these nutrients!

Antioxidant Value

  • Vitamin A (1 cup provides 438% of the RDA!)--as I shared in Kale last week, Vitamin A is one impressive vitamin.  
  • Vitamin C--like Kale, according to "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" this vitamin is an "antioxidant that is required for at least three hundred metabolic functions in the body including tissue growth and repair..."
    • In one study, the antioxidant activity in purple sweet potatoes was 3.2 times higher than that of a type of blueberry! This is due to the anthocyanin (discussed in anti-inflammatory value below) which was  found in one study to have the strongest antioxidizing power out of 150 flavonoids
    • I haven't been able to find any purple sweet potatoes at my local Whole Foods but I'm going to see if my little organic shop up the street will order me some from these folks that I found via Google!:-)
Anti-Inflammatory Value (some overlap with antioxidant)
  • Anthocyanin:  the pigment that makes sweet potatoes orange and sometimes, even purple!
    • a class of flavonoids.  As I mentioned last week, flavonoids are extremely beneficial, check out this paper by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
    • Shown in studies to reduce the inflammatory agent  cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) {small informational note: COX-2 inhibitors--things that reduce COX-2--include the drug Celebrex!}
Other fantastic nutritional benefits include:
  • Potassium; manganese; Vitamins B6, B3 & B5; copper; tryptophan
  • FIBER:  nearly 4 grams per cup!
  • and MORE! 
What diseases are Sweet Potatoes thought to influence, prevent, reduce or improve:
***Caveat:  If you have kidney or gallbladder problems, check with your doctor before you eat a lot of sweet potatoes--they have oxalates in them which can crystallize.***

Recipes:  SO many great recipes!!  What are YOUR favs?

Ok thats all folks!  Enjoy!
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  1. i usually have oatmeal for breakfast, but this morning, I switched it up a bit with some Japanese sweet potato. I'm oftened fixated on my meals, so sometimes I've to 'force' myself to break the momentum. It's strange, but it does take a lot of courage for me to try something new.

    1. Good for you trying something different! How was the Japanese sweet potato? Did you eat anything on it or did you just have it plain? Yum!

      By the way I also have oatmeal for breakfast! I just eat it raw though in oat milk with fruit. It's delicious:-)

  2. Our favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is simple. We roast a couple sweet potatoes, 1/2 an onion, a few cloves of garlic, and 1/2 a head of cauliflower tossed with paprika, powdered ancho chile, thyme, and a few red pepper flakes. We usually eat this along side a portabello steak (just a roasted plain portabello) and a pile of lightly steamed cabbage. For dessert we eat a roasted apple filled with chopped dates and cinnamon. It is so elegant but sooooooo easy, plant-perfect, low-fat, and low-cal. The only time it takes it chopping and timing how long everything goes in the oven: 45 apples, 30 veggies, 20 mushroom, cabbage steam 5 min.

    1. Oh my gosh Ginger that sounds amazing!!! Delicious!! I'm definitely going to try it--yum!:-)).

      Thanks so much for sharing that recipe!! :-)). The stuffed apples sound particularly good!

      I don't know if you saw my reply to your earlier post but could you email me your email address? I wanted to ask you about those recipes (soy and gluten free!). Thanks!!:/)

  3. I have been trying to incorporate more greens and sweet potatoes in my family's diet lately. Baked sweet potato fries are an easy way to get everyone to eat sweet potatoes. I also found a recipe from Isa at Post Punk Kitchen for Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples. I don't mash the sweet potatoes and apples, I just leave them cubed and it's like eating dessert for a side dish at supper. So delicious and simple. The black eyed peas are also delicious.

    I need to try the Healthy Librarian's recipe. It's sounds so good!

    1. Wow that recipe from Post Punk Kitchen looks SO good! I love that you are trying to incorporate more greens and sweet potatoes--obviously I'm a fan of both!:-)))

      You HAVE to try that soup. It's seriously amazing!!!!

      Thanks for commenting!:-))


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