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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


How to Cook Sweet Potatoes Without Losing Nutrients

Few foods are as versatile as they are nutritious, but the humble sweet potato is one exception. Whether you bake, roast, grill, saute, steam or microwave it, the orange-fleshed root vegetable delivers substantial amounts of vitamins A, C and B-6, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. Boiling sweet potatoes is not the most nutritious option because some of the vitamins are lost into the cooking water. You’ll get the most nutritional value from a sweet potato if you eat the whole thing, as its skin is a highly concentrated source of minerals and fiber. You’ll also absorb more of the vegetable’s beta-carotene – which your body converts to vitamin A – by consuming it with a small amount of fat.

In the Oven

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Rinse the sweet potato under cool running water. Use your fingers to brush off any dirt, as a scrubber may strip away some of the vegetable’s thin skin. Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Step 3

Pierce the sweet potato with a fork several times. Not only will this help the flesh cook evenly, but it will also keep the potato from bursting by allowing steam to escape.

Step 4

Place the vegetable in a roasting pan or other shallow baking dish. Because sweet potatoes tend to ooze some of their sticky sugars as they cook, you may want to line the dish with a piece of aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

Step 5

Cook the sweet potato for 35 to 45 minutes, turning it once about halfway through. Baked sweet potatoes are done when their skin becomes papery and their escaping sugars look as though they’re caramelized.

Step 6

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Use an oven mitt to transfer the hot sweet potato to a plate.

Step 7

Serve it with a drizzle of olive oil, a dollop of plain yogurt or a sprinkling of freshly ground flaxseed.

In the Microwave

Step 1

Prepare the sweet potato as you would for baking — gently rinse it, pat it dry and pierce it with a fork several times.

Step 2

Set it in a microwave-safe dish. While a plate is sufficient, a rimmed dish will help keep your microwave clean. You can also place a paper towel between the dish and the sweet potato to help minimize hard-to-clean residue.

Step 3

Microwave the vegetable on high for about three minutes.

Step 4

Flip it over using an oven mitt. Continue to microwave it for another two to four minutes, depending on its size. As with the baked variety, microwaved sweet potatoes are done when their skin is papery and the sugars they exude begin to brown.

Step 5

Transfer the sweet potato to a plate using an oven mitt. Allow it to cool slightly before you cut into it, as microwaved potatoes tend to release a lot of steam.

Things You’ll Need

Paper towels
Roasting pan
Aluminum foil (optional)
Oven mitts
Microwave-safe dish
Olive oil, plain yogurt or ground flaxseed, if desired

by MEG CAMPBELL        Oct 13, 2015

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Potatoes Are Healthy

By: Becky Striepe   April 8, 2016 

Potatoes sometimes get disregarded because we associate them with greasy fries and chips, but whole potatoes cooked with healthy techniques give you a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.

My family eats a LOT of potatoes. Mashed, baked, roasted or steamed, sometimes we eat potatoes every single night of the week. No, really. My first cookbook was inspired by my husband’s enthusiasm for my dairy-free mashed potatoes.

Potato Nutrition
The problem with potatoes isn’t the potato itself, it’s how we tend to prepare them. Mashed potatoes full of butter and cream are not doing you any favors. French fries are certainly not good for you, and potato chips are arguably even worse. But you don’t have to deep fry a potato or drown it in butter to make it taste good, and when you look at the nutritional value of the vegetable itself, it’s pretty decent.

One large baked potato with the skin contains:

  • no fat or cholesterol
  • 7 grams of fiber
  • 7 grams of protein
  • 48 percent of your daily vitamin C
  • 18 percent of your daily iron
  • 4 percent of your daily calcium
  • 46 percent of your daily potassium
  • 46 percent of your vitamin B6

Not too shabby, right? We ruin this poor root vegetable’s health value when we deep fry it or slather it in fatty dairy products.

In fact, potatoes contain a compound called kukoamines that lower blood pressure. Its high B6 content means it can contribute to brain and heart health. Of course, if you slather that potato with cheese, sour cream and bacon, you’re likely undoing any heart-healthy benefits. Let’s look at some healthier ways to cook potatoes instead.

Potatoes sometimes get short shrift, because we associate them with greasy fries and chips, but whole potatoes cooked with healthy techniques give you a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.
Only joking…you don’t have to eat your potatoes raw. In fact, you shouldn’t!


Healthy Ways to Cook a Potato
Potatoes are one of the foods you should never eat raw. Luckily, there are lots of healthy ways to cook a potato. For healthy cooking, you know that deep frying is out, but there are so many other ways to cook a potato.

1. Healthier baked potatoes: Kitchen Treaty has a step by step for baking the perfect potato. Instead of bacon and sour cream, though, reach for healthier toppings. Try steamed broccoli and a tahini drizzle on your next baked potato! You can also use salsa, cashew cream or a healthy gravy, like my no-cook miso gravy, to top your baked potato. Load up with veggies and green onions, and you’ve got a healthy, one-plate meal.

2. Healthier mashed potatoes: Instead of mashing with butter and cream, use olive oil, a little salt and your favorite non-dairy milk. Potatoes are healthier with the skin on, so instead of thick-skinned russets, choose red or white potatoes. No peeling required!

3. Roasted potatoes: Dice your potatoes, toss with olive oil, rosemary and a little salt, and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Your potatoes are done when they’re browned on the outside and fork-tender all the way through.

4. Healthier fries: Oven fries are the healthier answer to your next French fry craving. Cadry’s Kitchen has a great recipe for making the perfect oven fries, including how to select the right potato for the best results.

5. Steamed potatoes: Cubed potatoes actually make a great base for a meal, sort of like baked potatoes, but even more cozy somehow. Pile on veggies, your protein of choice and your favorite healthy sauce, and you’re in business. You can steam potatoes on the stovetop, but my new favorite way to steam them is in the pressure cooker. It’s fast and very hands-off. Cut your potatoes of choice into 2″ pieces, stick them into a steamer basket with 1 cup of water underneath it in your pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally. They’re perfect every single time!

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Vitamin B May Lower Stroke Risk

September 19th, 2013

New evidence suggests taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke.

A study, published this week in the online issue of Neurology, analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials of vitamin B that included a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies compared the supplement use with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin. The patients were then followed for a minimum of six months.

The purpose of this meta-analysis was to see if vitamin B lowered homocysteine levels in the blood, which are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

“Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack,” said study author Dr. Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China. “Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events.”

The data showed vitamin B lowered homocysteine levels and, therefore, the risk of stroke overall by 7%. But, researchers noted, taking vitamin B supplements did not appear to affect the severity of those strokes or the risk of death from stroke.

Vitamin B is an important nutrient for the body. It can be found naturally in a variety of foods such as beef liver, certain beans, bananas, light turkey meat, halibut and potato skins.

“B vitamins are essential for living,” notes Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietician and the author of “Diet Simple.” “They produce energy in your cells. They are water-soluble vitamins, which means if you take in too much, they are usually excreted by the kidneys. The exception is B12.”

The study authors also found that folic acid, a supplemental form of folate (vitamin B9), which is often found in fortified cereals, appeared to reduce the effect of vitamin B. Researchers did not find a reduction in stroke risk for vitamin B12.

“Based on our results, the ability of vitamin B to reduce stroke risk may be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the body’s absorption rate, the amount of folic acid or vitamin B12 concentration in the blood, and whether a person has kidney disease or high blood pressure,” said Yuming.

Although the scientists admit more research needs to be done, many stroke specialists feel this is a positive step forward.

“I think this is an exciting study, because we need more treatments for stroke,” says Dr. Teshamae Monteith, an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“I believe safe options are necessary,” Monteith continued, “and this indeed could be that. But I don’t think people should start ingesting large amounts of vitamin B to avoid strokes. We just aren’t there yet.”

Yuming agrees. “Before you begin taking any supplements,” he warns, “you should always talk to your doctor.”

source: CNN

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Potatoes much healthier than you might think

LESLIE BECK     Special to The Globe and Mail     Monday, Jun. 03 2013, 12:00 AM EDT

White potatoes are often regarded as the “white bread” of vegetables, a starchy food with little nutritional value. The truth is, potatoes are good for you provided, of course, they’re not laden with butter and cream or deep-fried in oil.

One medium sized baked Russet potato – with the skin – has 168 calories, no fat, 37 grams of carbohydrate and four grams of fibre. If you’re worried that a potato contains more carbohydrate than other starchy foods, it doesn’t. You’ll find roughly 37 grams of carbs in one cup of cooked quinoa, three-quarters of a cup of cooked brown rice and one cup of cooked pasta. And unlike white bread, the starch in potatoes hasn’t been refined to deplete nutrients.

Potatoes also deliver niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C and magnesium. They’re a great source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. One medium white or red-skinned potato, with the skin, has more than double the potassium of a medium-sized banana, 950 milligrams versus 422 mg. (Adults need 4,700 mg of potassium a day.)

Some types of potatoes offer even more nutrition. Sweet potatoes, which are related to the morning glory, are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant thought to guard against certain cancers. A half cup of mashed sweet potato has 15 mg of beta-carotene. There’s no official recommended intake for beta-carotene, but three to six milligrams daily is thought to help lower the risk of chronic disease. Yams, which belong to the lily family, have little beta-carotene, but are a good source of fibre and potassium.

Purple potatoes – increasingly available in grocery stores and farmer’s markets – have a purple-coloured skin and flesh. They’re loaded with anthocyanins, the same phytochemicals found in berries, red and purple grapes and red wine. Studies suggest that higher intakes of anthocyanins may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Potatoes vary when it comes to glycemic index (GI), a measure of how a food affects your blood glucose. Foods with a high GI value (e.g. white bread, table sugar) cause your blood sugar to spike quickly. The carbohydrate in foods with a low GI (e.g. steel-cut oats, brown rice) is released more slowly into the bloodstream. A high glycemic diet has been linked to a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

White potatoes – boiled, baked or mashed – score high on the GI scale. Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index; new potatoes have a medium to low glycemic index. According to University of Toronto researchers, however, the GIs of Russet and red-skinned potatoes are reduced to the low to moderate range if you eat them cold (pre-cooked) or reheated. Cooling potatoes alters their starch structure, causing carbohydrate to be absorbed more slowly into the blood. Adding vinegar to potatoes (think potato salad) also lowers their glycemic index.

One tip: leave the skin on when cooking potatoes. The skin contains fibre and nutrients, and helps retain the vitamin C.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is the national director of nutrition at BodyScience Medical. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel’sDirect (www.lesliebeck.com).