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While I realize it’s summer, I still have favorite foods that I incorporate in my meals all year long. Sweet potatoes are one of them. Despite their name, sweet potatoes have a slightly lower glycemic index than white potatoes, which means they don’t raise your blood sugar as quickly after eating. Eating the skin of potatoes increases fiber consumption- just be sure to scrub the skin well to remove any dirt or pesticides.

In addition to fiber, that beautiful bright orange hue of sweet potatoes is compliments of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene gets converted to vitamin A in the body, and is found in other brightly colored fruits and vegetables including carrots, cantaloupe, acorn and butternut squash, apricots, peaches, nectarines and mangoes. Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin and immunity and is best to get in your diet VS supplements.

Long term beta-carotene intake (> 18 years) from food, has been linked with improved cognition in older adults in one study of over 4,000 men. In addition, foods high in beta-carotene are protective against lung cancer and reduce the risk of macular degeneration- a disease of the eye that impacts vision. Beta-carotene is more bio-available when cooked VS raw. So, when you eat cooked carrots, your body actually absorbs more of the antioxidant.

Fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene have also been linked with cancer reduction due to their high anti-oxidant content, which help fight free radicals that damage cells and DNA in your body. Fruit and vegetable intake (in addition to not smoking, limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise) is one of your best defenses in preventing cancer. Include more if your diet whenever you can (especially vegetables, which are lower in calories).

Sweet (and white) potatoes also provide potassium– an essential mineral that aids in blood pressure reduction. Potassium has recently been added to the food label because of its role in blood pressure. You can also find potassium in green leafy vegetables such as kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, mustard and collard greens and broccoli. I eat something green and leafy at least once a day, but typically more.

Below is the recipe for this simple side dish:

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2″ discs, then cut in half

Non-stick cooking spray

Cinnamon

Cumin

Seasoned salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a large baking pan with non stick spray.
  3. Place the cut sweet potatoes on the baking pan and spread them out.
  4. Spray the potatoes with non-stick spray.
  5. Dust the potatoes with one pass of each: cinnamon, cumin, and seasoned salt.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 15 minutes until potatoes are slightly soft.

Makes 4 servings (roughly 1/2 cup each).

 

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