SUPERFOOD SPOTLIGHT: SWEET POTATOES
By Stefanie Cassetto
Everybody wants an edge when it comes to fitness, especially ways to endure a workout and replenish our bodies after the workout. This week’s superfood spotlight is a great way to fuel up with good carbohydrates before exercising. Traditionally known as a side dish covered with marshmallows, syrup, and served on Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes can do a whole lot more than just play the supporting role for turkey.
Sweet potatoes have been around a long time. They are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. These orange-fleshed root vegetables are native to Central America and have an extensive list of health benefits. Becoming more popular as a runner’s food, sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, iron and the antioxidant beta-carotene. Some studies have shown that sweet potatoes are actually a better source of beta-carotene than dark green leafy vegetables. A one-cup serving of sweet potatoes offers more than 700 percent of your Daily Value of vitamin A, 65 percent of vitamin C, and seven grams of fiber. These potatoes supply fuel for the body during a run or strenuous exercise, and can also replace important minerals that are lost through sweat. Additionally, the potassium and magnesium help prevent muscle cramps.
Beyond eating sweet potatoes to gain an advantage at the gym or during a race, they also are loaded with anti-inflammatory nutrients and have blood sugar benefits.
There are a variety of ways to cook sweet potatoes and still retain the beneficial nutrients that they provide. While steaming this vegetable, as with many others, is the best option, you can also prepare them by baking, boiling, and stir-frying. Sweet potatoes can often be substituted for white potatoes in recipes as well.
While most of us think of sweet potatoes as the bright orange vegetable we eat in November, these delicious potatoes have skin that can range in color from red to purple, and brown to white. The flesh also varies from white, yellow, orange and purple.
Sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving anymore. Next time you are going for a run and are thinking about “carbing up” with pasta, remember sweet potatoes as a healthy alternative to supply the energy you need to make it through a race.
SWEET POTATO MASHED
A perfect pre-race meal that’s easy to prepare and packed with loads of carbs.
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until tender. Combine milk, ginger, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. Drain the potatoes, return to the pan, add the milk mixture, and beat with a potato masher or handheld mixer until smooth. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Makes five servings.
Calories: 200 Fat: less than 1 g Protein: 2 g Carbs: 45 g vitamin c: 40% Daily Value