Back To Basics – The Sweet Potato

By: Nick Thomas

I want to go back to basics to kick off the year. There seems to be no better time than the present for a fresh start in life. Nutrition in general determines SO much about how we feel and perform in daily life, from big tasks to small. Therefore, I can think of no better way to positively change life than to incorporate the right combination of all-natural, whole food daily.

Let’s start with potatoes. As a rule they do not usually come to mind when thinking of eating a highly nutritional diet, however the sweet potato defies this. The sweet potato is a complex carbohydrate which, unlike the white potato, has a great deal of nutritional value and deserves to be part of our regular diet. A complex carbohydrate is slow acting with minimal sugar, while a simple carbohydrate is fast acting with a higher sugar content. This means that for most adults, including this daily will work well, but as in all things, everyone is different and has different goals; so these things need to be considered. For example, a weight-loss or maintenance nutrition plan for someone doing basic regular exercise would need a high amount of complex carbohydrates early in the day and taper off in the evening. On the flip side, a highly active athlete would need an increased amount of simple carbohydrates because of the fast-acting rush of sugar to the muscle, which will aide in the athlete’s performance.
Just one sweet potato contains 400% of the vitamin A recommended to keep our eyes, skin, and organ function healthy, not to mention it helps keep illness away, which is especially important at this time in our world. The sweet potato also contains almost half of our daily vitamin C intake. Both of these vitamins hold the antioxidants which also protect against aging and disease.

Research has proven that a unique protein called protease inhibitor, which slows cancer growth, can be gained by eating the sweet potato. One serving of sweet potato also holds a third of our needed daily manganese intake, a mineral that helps our bodies produce collagen and promotes skin and bone health. Finally, several energy-supporting B vitamins and minerals can be found in the sweet potato, including potassium which is responsible for releasing excess sodium from the body and lowering blood pressure, causing the heart to have a more regular rhythm.

For those who struggle with blood sugar issues and are worried about the starchy side of this super food, rest easy knowing that the high fiber content makes the sweet potato a slow-burning starch which means it will not cause a spike in blood sugar or insulin levels. One serving of sweet potato is about 6 grams of fiber, which is more than a quarter of the recommended daily amount our bodies need.

Here are a couple of simple ways to make the sweet potato taste great. Keep in mind, cooking it in the skin does provide another element of nutrients. Take a washed sweet potato still in the skin, place it on a baking sheet, and put it in a 400-degree oven for roughly 45 minutes or until fork tender. Boiling or grilling the potatoes will also work. When it is cool to the touch, cut it open, and add a small amount of olive oil-based butter, pinch of sea salt, and cinnamon. Another option when the craving for fries hits is to peel a few sweet potatoes, cut them in 1-inch cubes or slices, place them on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and give them a generous sprinkle of sea salt. Bake them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until crisp and tender.
For more information regarding a personalized general or sports nutrition plan, contact me at Prime Performance. My personal contact is 423-805-0870.
By: Nick Thomas
owner of Prime Performance Training, and Certified Sports Nutritionist