Tuesday 2 April 2013

Week 14 Nutrition Habit: Best Carb Option?

Since we have already looked a bit a protein and fat, in week 14 of the 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series, it is time to look at why and how you should be adding one of the best carb sources on the planet - sweet potatoes. 

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
In the late 90's and early 2000's, carbohydrates were often thought of as public enemy #1 (slight exaggeration of course). This lead us to the same problem we had during the the 80's and early 90's when fat was the ultimate evil - we failed to distinquish between good and bad. Just like their are good fats (e.g. fish oil) and bad fats (e.g. transfat), there are good and bad carbs.
Not how you want to get your
sweet potatoes

Top Carb Choice
While controversy abounds in the field of nutrition and there are many "expert opinions" as to what is good and not good, one of the carbs that almost always gets the universal stamp of approval is the sweet potato. The sad thing is that most North Americans rarely eat sweet potatoes (this is of course outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when they are baked in brown sugar with a layer of marshmallows on top). If you are not regularly consuming sweet potatoes, you are missing out on some great benefits which include:
  • One of the oldest vegetables known to man
  • High fiber
  • High in antioxidants (especially beta carotene) 
  • High in vitamin A, potassium and calcium
  • Has cancer-fighting properties
  • Has quercetin - a powerful anti-inflammatory 
  • Lower glycemic load than regular potatoes
  • Great food for recovery from intense training
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and WhyBy Dr. Jonny Bowden. 

This Week's Habit
Go to your local grocery store or farm market and by some sweet potatoes.  Note: depending on where you live, they may be called "yams" which technically are large root vegetables grown in Africa. They should look like the picture above. Then, look at having sweet potatoes at least 1 meal this week in place of another less-healthy carbs (e.g. french fries, pasta, bread, etc).

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes
Obviously the marshmallow version is one what you want. Sweet potatoes can be boiled which is fine but they turn to mush. They can also be cubed and roasted (which taste great, but takes a lot of time). My favorite go-to-fast-and-easy sweet potato recipe is this:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375-400deg F
  • Wash and cut off any bad parts
  • Poke a few holes in them with a fork
  • Bake for 40-50 min (check doneness with a fork - you want soft but not mush)
  • Cut open or mash slightly with a fork
  • Topping option 1: olive oil and sea salt
  • Topping option 2: small amount of organic butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon (my girls love this one!) 


Here are the links to the previous 2013 weekly habits in case you missed them:

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