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Root Vegetables; the Super Healthy Carbohydrates

Root Vegetables; the Super-Healthy Carbohydrates

Root vegetables have been a staple in many South American and Asian diets for thousands of years.  Additionally one specific root vegetable, sweet potato has been an ingredient in folk medicine for more than 5,000 years.  These vegetables have supported under-nourished populations around the world all the while.

Root vegetables contain vital nutrients – vitamins, minerals and fiber that can help fight cancer, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory disorders such as heart disease and arthritis.

Replacing grains with roots benefits health, as they are gluten free, thus avoiding digestive issues and autoimmune reactions that are associated with gluten. Although often people are not aware of their sensitivity to gluten and grain, after replacing these foods with root vegetables, their symptoms subside.

As a totally natural source of complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, and vital nutrients (e.g. vitamin. A, C potassium magnesium) they tend to be lower in calories and have a lower glycemic index, as well as cause less digestive or inflammatory issues than many grains.

Roots are a great dietary choice for balancing a diet with nutrient dense starch that is also adds a delightful sweetness to your food.

Highly beneficial for the Skin and Eyes, as beta-carotene is used to convert vitamin A by the body that triggers DA to produce new skin cells. Beta-carotene also helps to reverse free radical damage, which can lead to age relate eye disorders, sun spots or wrinkles.

Sweet Potatoes/Yams – colorful and tasty, they are rich in vitamin A, potassium, Vitamin B5 and vitamin C, and fiber.  A slow absorbing starch- although sweet, they are low on the glycemic index and help stabilize blood sugar.

Russet or Yukon Gold White Potatoes – Contrary to common belief, they do provide significant antioxidants, a good source of potassium – important for strong bones and heart health. Also a good source of magnesium – important for bone and nerve health.  Note – to preserve the potassium and other nutrients eat the skins too.

Carrots – One of the most popular vegetables world-wide. Can be eaten raw or cooked into a variety of dishes, as well as juiced.  Their orange color is the result of antioxidants called carotenoids, which are known to protect the eyes and skin. They also contain vitamins of C, D, E and K, and minerals magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Onions – offer significant health benefits. It is best to use as much of the most outer layer as possible as it is rich with valuable antibacterial properties. They support strong bones, reduced inflammation and reduced risk of some cancers.

Garlic- Known for its excellent medicinal properties such that it is recommended to be eaten daily. Boosts heart health, prevents certain cancers, improves metabolism and helps to fight stress.  Can be used as an ingredient in most anything.  Can be eaten raw or cooked into food.  To preserve garlic when it is fresh at  its time of harvest, you can heat olive oil and put peeled and cut garlic in it for a couple of minutes while on heat. Remove from heat and store in a tightly sealed glass jar in the refrigerator. This will not only keep ‘till next year’s harvest but has a delightful somewhat milder flavor.  It also is convenient to use more frequently as it is already peeled.

Parsnips – A member of the same plant family as carrots, parsley and celery, and have many of the same benefits. They are a great source of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C. Beneficial for reducing risk of diabetes and high blood cholesterol.  Good support for energy, metabolism, nervous system health, synthesis of DNA and red blood cells formation and can reduce risk of birth defects.

Beets – Beneficial for enhancing athletic endurance, performance and recovery time. Contain nitrates which improve  -alkalize and detox the body, support hormone health and provide high levels of phytonutrients.

Turnips – A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, thus they are related to cancer-fighting vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower.  They contain phytonutrients called indoles that are known to reduce risk for certain cancers e.g. prostate, lung, stomach and colon. High in calcium, magnesium and potassium, they are a heart-healthy food that supports good blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Rutabagas - Are a cross between cabbage and turnips, thus providing any of the same benefits. They are high in fiber, vitamin C and zinc.  As such they support immune health, brain function, mood regulation, metabolism, and protect from physiological stress. Their taste is similar to turnips and white potatoes.

Butternut Squash – High in beta carotene, it is a tasty immune system booster and defense against cancer. It also helps to lower toxicity.  It is tasty baked, roasted or in soups or a multi-root stew.

Winter Squash –Much like butternut squash it is rich with protective antioxidants that are essential for eye health and preserving vision through later years, as they protect the cornea, macula and retina from damage. Both Butternut and Winter squash contain polysaccharides that contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties.

Jerusalem Artichokes – Good source of fiber, vitamin A, iron and potassium. They support nerve health, red blood cell formation, a healthy metabolism and help to prevent anemia.  

How much to eat?  Varies according to your body type, metabolism, physical activity, and individual needs. The intent is to create a balanced diet of quality proteins, root vegetables and non-starchy vegetables. Maintaining weight with nutrient-rich, fiber rich foods is easy, colorful and tasty with a variety of root vegetables.

Bon appetit!  

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