Can you name the most popular vegetable in the United States? OK, the title of this blog gives away the answer. Americans LOVE potatoes – French fries, mashed (with or without gravy), slivered into chips, baked and served with gobs of butter or sour cream or both, au gratin . The potato people are very proud of the fact that every day (yes, every day) some 56 million people in the United States eat French fries in fast food restaurants. Carrots rank a distant second on the most popular veggie list, with broccoli in the number 3 slot. I’ve read that we’re now eating 900 percent more broccoli than we did 20 years ago. That’s definitely good news, but the last time the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at nationwide fruit and vegetable consumption, it found that only 26 percent of adults eat vegetables three or more times a day (not including those fast food French fries). Let’s get one thing clear French fries, potato chips and other processed pseudo foods, do NOT count as vegetables!
Even when they are not processed, or drowned in butter or gravy, white potatoes are not the best choice as a vegetable. I ask you to forego white potatoes on the Omni Diet and as part of The Brain Warrior’s Way. The reason is that they are simple carbohydrates that are quickly converted to sugar in the bloodstream where they can cause all sorts of trouble. They can damage blood vessels and contribute to insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and potentially, heart attacks.
Why Are Sweet Potatoes Different?
Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable, like white potatoes, but that’s where the similarity ends. They are only distantly related, and sweet potatoes are not a nightshade (a family of vegetables known to wreak havoc on the intestinal lining for many people). In fact, sweet potatoes are actually related to the morning glory flower! Another important difference– apart from taste – is that sweet potatoes convert to blood sugar more slowly than white potatoes. Also, the skin on a medium sweet potato has more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal, and they are loaded with vitamin A! A serving of sweet potatoes also provides one-third of the vitamin C you need daily. These root veggies are also somewhat lower in calories than white potatoes – averaging 90 compared to 130. (By the way, sweet potatoes and yams are two different vegetables even though they’re not always easy to tell apart in the market. Of the two, sweet potatoes are more nutritious.)
Surprising Health Benefits
Sweet potatoes are now considered a more appropriate option for the diabetic diet because they’ve been found to cause lower fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels compared to foods such as instant mashed potatoes and whole wheat bread. We’re most familiar with sweet potatoes that have orange flesh, but some are purple and others are white. The purple ones have such high levels of anthocyanin pigments (powerful antioxidants) that they’re said to rival blueberries. As with other fruits and vegetables, the more colorful the sweet potato, the greater its health benefits.
Sweet potatoes are delicious with just a little cinnamon. (hold the marshmallows). Try my recipes for Smooth Sweet Potato Soup and Succulent Roasted Sweet Potatoes, which are so easy and delicious they will make the reputation of a novice cook. Enjoy!!
For more recipes grab a copy of The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook – available through this link or in your local library.