Sweet Potato

Nutrient Fact Sheet

Nutrient Fact File Sweet Potato Loula Natural

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are native to Central America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. It is documented that they may have been consumed since prehistoric times as  sweet potato relics have been discovered in some Peruvian caves. Christopher Columbus first brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492.

They have a creamy texture with a sweet, warm and a little spicey flavour that makes them ideal for savoury dishes. However they are also great in cakes, cookies, smoothies and even to make ice-cream. Although peak season for sweet potatoes is October to March, they are a vegetable that is readily available, inexpensive, and delicious.

Depending upon the variety, there are around 400 different ones, the skin and flesh of the sweet potato may be almost white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, or deep purple. The Japanese and Korean white/cream and American yellow-orange flesh are most common.

Although sometimes referred to as ‘yams’ in the USA, sweet potatoes belong to an entirely different food family. They are also very different from the common potato.  Sweet potatoes are far more nutrient dense and healing. Their properties and uses are diverse, and when you choose sweet potatoes as a dietary root vegetable, you are getting a truly unique and superior type of potato. Some of the benefits include

  • They are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked to degenerative diseases, including the prevention of heart attacks.
  • They 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 also 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 (sweet potatoes make us look young- bonus!), and is essential to helping us cope with stress. The anti-oxidant properties also may help to prevent cancer
  • They contain some 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. Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and may support the thyroid gland.
  • Sweet potato’s are full of beta-carotene’s good for eyesight, immune system and digestive health.
  • Sweet potatoes contain some 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 protein metabolism, among other things.
  • Sweet potatoes 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.

Another interesting thing about sweet potatoes is the antioxidant capacity of all their parts. Recent research has shown differences in consuming the flesh versus skin of the sweet potato. Both producing different concentrations of anthocyanin antioxidants. Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes (when you can find them- Asia has them fairly regularly) are a fantastic source of anthocyanins (especially peonidins and cyanidins) as the darker and more vibrant the colour of a vegetable the more antioxidants they contain. In one study, the antioxidant activity in purple sweet potatoes was seen to be up to 3 times higher than that of blueberries.

Since they are not actually a potato so therefore not a deadly nightshade, sweet potato can actually have a healing effect on your digestive system rather than an irritating one. The fibres in the sweet potato actually feed the bacteria and are classed as fermentable as a prebiotic (food for bacteria). This therefore helps to create a more balanced bacterial environment in your digestive system. Thus giving a digestive healing effect with an immune boost too.

Finally most kids love sweet potato- it is a great first food, great in the lunch boxes cold and as hot chips at dinner time. A simple way to get some amazing nutrients into kids without too many arguments. Try them in smoothies, juices and soups for a smooth creamy consistency and natural sweetness.

Sweet potatoes are traditionally been baked, roasted or mashed, but they can also be added to risotto, pasta or curry. Here are my recipes;

Here are my mouth watering recipes;

 Here are some other amazing recipes;

Sweet Potato Spaghetti- Healthy Living How To
Sweet Potato Spaghetti- Healthy Living How To 
Dark Chocolate Brownies Renew Whole Health
Dark Chocolate Brownies Renew Whole Health
Fudgey Brownies Jules Fuel
Fudgey Brownies Jules Fuel
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Cupcakes Veggie Converter
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Cupcakes Veggie Converter
Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies- The Paleo Mama
Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies- The Paleo Mama
Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake Homemade Mommy
Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake Homemade Mommy
Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies Homemade Mommy
Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies Homemade Mommy
Chicken with Sweet Potato Curry Sauce- La Healthy Living
Chicken with Sweet Potato Curry Sauce- La Healthy Living
Sweet Potato Quiche-Grok Grub
Sweet Potato Quiche-Grok Grub
Sweet Potato Pancakes-Healy Real Food Vegetarian
Sweet Potato Pancakes-Healy Real Food Vegetarian
Sweet Potato Hash- Stupid easy paleo
Sweet Potato Hash- Stupid easy paleo
Sweet Potato Chips- Healy Real Food Vegetarian
Sweet Potato Chips- Healy Real Food Vegetarian
Sweet Potato Apple Pancetta Hash- Gutsy By Nature
Sweet Potato Apple Pancetta Hash- Gutsy By Nature
Sweet Potato and Banana Pie Smoothie-Green Thickies
Sweet Potato and Banana Pie Smoothie-Green Thickies
Sweet Potato Recovery Shake Stupid Easy Paleo
Sweet Potato Recovery Shake Stupid Easy Paleo
Sweet Potato Gratin- Meatified
Sweet Potato Gratin- Meatified
Sweet Potato Crackers- The Coconut Mama
Sweet Potato Crackers- The Coconut Mama
Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes The Coconut Mama
Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes The Coconut Mama
Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna Veggie Converter
Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna Veggie Converter
Spicy Lime Sweet Potato Mash- Popular Paleo
Spicy Lime Sweet Potato Mash- Popular Paleo
Raw Carrot and Sweet Potato soup with Spinach- Green Thickies
Raw Carrot and Sweet Potato soup with Spinach- Green Thickies
Paleo Hash- The Sprouting Seed
Paleo Hash- The Sprouting Seed
Organic Sweet Potato Chips Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Organic Sweet Potato Chips Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Make Your Own Sweet Potato Chips- Healthy Living How To
Make Your Own Sweet Potato Chips- Healthy Living How To
Loaded Sweet Potato Fries- The Sprouting Seed
Loaded Sweet Potato Fries- The Sprouting Seed
Creamy Sweet Potato Mash Stupid Easy Paleo
Creamy Sweet Potato Mash Stupid Easy Paleo
Chilli Lime Sweet Potato Fries Popular Paleo
Chilli Lime Sweet Potato Fries Popular Paleo
BBQ Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes-Primally Inspired
BBQ Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes-Primally Inspired
Apple Sweet Potato Bake Stupid Easy Paleo
Apple Sweet Potato Bake Stupid Easy Paleo
Autumn Spiced Sweet Potato Bread-Soundness of Body and Mind
Autumn Spiced Sweet Potato Bread-Soundness of Body and Mind
 

 

Calcium

calcium

Many people still think Dairy is the best source of calcium, this is not so especially pasturised milk from corn/grain fed cows. Cows need grass and to be milked within their limits and left to pasture and live a natural life for their milk to contain levels of calcium (also all the other vitamins, minerals necessary for calcium absorption to be present in the right amounts- esp Vit D from them being outside in the daylight). Then you need the milk to be in its raw alive state for the body to be able to use the enzymes in milk to digest and absorb calcium. Since this is rare (and impossible to get Raw Milk in Hong Kong) you are better off relying on other natural food sources of calcium to meet child and adult needs.

Don’t believe me check out the research;

” A recent review on dairy products and bone health (Lanou et al., Pediatrics 2005) shows that there is very little evidence to support increasing the consumption of dairy products in children and young adults in order to promote bone health.” (source/review)

What is Calcium?

Calcium is a vital mineral necessary for the human body. Its primary use is to maintain bone density and strength. However blood levels are crucial to keep our heart pumping. Almost 99 per cent of our calcium in our body is found in the bones (98%) and teeth (1%), the other one per cent of its role is in conjunction with Magnesium (which relax muscles) as Calcium is involved in the regulation of muscle contraction including smooth muscle found in the heart and digestive system, blood clotting, ph of the blood (calcium is alkalising) and nervous system function.

Calcium is generally found to be depleted in those consuming western diets. Especially those relying on dairy to supply calcium intake. A high protein (esp red meat and dairy) and starchy carbohydrate (sugar- especially refined and processed foods) diet will both be acidifying to the body (depleting calcium to help maintain the bodies optimum ph) but also will not contain calcium in order to replenish depleted stocks. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Where do we find it?

While milk and dairy products do contain calcium however the body is not able to fully utilise and absorb it. However several plant-based foods provide a more bioavailable source together with the nutrients needed to absorb it successfully.

Good plant-based sources include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, bok choi, broccoli, kale, spring greens, cabbage, parsley and watercress.

Also rich in calcium are dried fruits such as figs and apricots.

Nuts; particularly almonds and brazil nuts and seeds including sesame seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste).

Pulses including peas, chick peas, beans, lentils and fermented calcium-set tofu (soya bean curd like found in Miso).

Fish; especially those where you consume the small soft bones- sardines, whitebait and soft shell crab.

Molasses also provides a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium and many other nutrients.

However, while spinach contains a lot of calcium, it is bound to a substance called oxalate which inhibits calcium absorption, so it is important to obtain calcium from low-oxalate green vegetables (eg broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, watercress) Juicing or lightly cooking (steaming) these veg will help make the calcium more available. Grains, nuts and seeds contain a substance called phytic acid may hinder calcium absorption so soaking (and sprouting if possible) is recommended

What is needed to help Calcium absorption?

Without sufficient vitamin D (in the form of D3 usually) Calcium deficiency is likely to occur even if the diet provides enough calcium. This is because Vitamin D helps to maintain normal blood calcium levels. Magnesium, potassium (another vital component of bone material), vitamin C, and vitamin K, are all required for good bone, muscle and nerve connection health.

If taking a calcium supplement make sure it contains magnesium and D3. Both are necessary and without will render the calcium useless to the body and will be excreted (most doctors may prescribe a pure calcium supplement- please check with a Nutritional Therapist). Mineral powders and egg shells can be very effective forms of supplementing the diet. The way I like to ensure lots of calcium in my diet is by making my own bone broth (including my egg shells, green vegetables) eating lots of fresh leafy greens, nut milk, sesame seeds/tahini in most things and eating soft shell crab in our favourite sushi bar! I also use a great mineral powder in our Homemade Toothpaste.

Vitamin D

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We hear a lot about Vitamin D nowadays. It has been linked to greater immunity, curing cancer, better mood, stronger bones, enhanced digestive health and the list goes on. There are more indications that skin cancer and breast cancer may occur in Vitamin D deficient people. This is seen in countries that have a population used to wearing sunscreen and also milk drinking populations (Vitamin D is reported to be found in milk and dairy products- especially butter). Lets have a look at what it does, where you can get it from and why you may need it. As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What does it do?

Vitamin D plays a big role in bone growth and development (hence why Rickets may come from a Vitamin D deficiency- interestingly more cases are being seen because our kids are not outside as much and when they are they have sunscreen on so the skin is unable to produce vitamin from the UV rays) and in the absorption of calcium (why most calcium supplements will contain vitamin D). It also lays a vital role in healthy teeth and gum repair. Taking it alongside vitamin A has shown to boost the immune system and is used in cases with asthma and allergies. It is used in many autoimmune diseases, works by helping to maintain heart muscle action, blood-clotting and is very useful for those with Diabetes. It stops the over proliferation (over production) of cells so may be used by cancer patients. It also plays a role in helping muscle spasms to relax.

sun

Where is it found?;

Vitamin D is stored in fat. This is one of the reasons that it may rise to toxic levels in your body. Unlike water soluble vitamins- fat stored vitamins do not get passed through your urine- they can be stored in the body and potentially clog up the liver. This is only really an issue if your body has a excess of fat, a insufficiency of nutrients necessary to break down and process the fat and also the mechanisms in place to utilise the fat for energy. Vitamin D also has several actions within the body which make storage necessary. It is made through the action of sunlight on your skin. It is also contained in eggs, oily fish (herring, tuna, cod, halibut), Fish liver oils (especially when fermented), butter and full fat milk (as it is stored in the fat- so skim milk doesn’t naturally contain it) and sprouted seeds.

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How do we Make it?-For the skin to produce Vitamin D from sunlight you need the following to be working together- the skin, bloodstream, liver and kidneys. The skin ‘catches the UV rays and converts then into a cholesterol which is then converted in the liver and kidneys. (5 ways to  be Safe in the Sun) The active form of Vitamin D is called D3 (which the kidneys will make) hence why we generally find this form in supplements. The darker your skin- the less Vitamin D you will produce. When Vitamin D is ingested, bile is needed to break down the fat it is stored in. A protein is then needed to carry it to the liver, where it is then stored till it is needed. The Vitamin D found in plant and meat sources is different because the fat they are in is different. Both plant and animal sources can be used – however the one contained in animal fat resembles our own more closely so requires a little less to convert it.

What should we take it with?- Vitamin D is best taken along side Magnesium and Calcium for bone and muscle health. However new studies suggest that Vitamin D must be taken with Vitamin K2 to maximise Vitamin D and Calcium’s roles and absorption.

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