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Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are in the Solanaceae family, related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant along with deadly nightshade.
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are in the Convolvulaceae family with flowering morning glory vines.
There are about 4,000 known varieties of potatoes (with about 3,000 in the Andes alone) and about 5,000 varieties of sweet potatoes grown worldwide. For instance, fast-food restaurants demand a potato type (such as Russets) that has a particular size and shape, cuts well into French fries and holds together when deep-fried, but has a mealy, floury texture on the inside.
In fact, partially due to their carbohydrate content, potatoes and sweet potatoes are highly satiating foods.
In fact, in 2010, Chris Voigt, the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, tried a crazy experiment: 2 months of eating only potatoes.
In part, this is because of the type of carbohydrate that occurs in potatoes and sweet potatoes.
As you can see above, sweet potatoes are indeed sweeter: They have 7 times the sugar content of regular potatoes.
Potatoes also have a type of resistant starch known as retrograde starch: When you cook and then cool potatoes, the starch molecules shuffle themselves around into a different structure. To digest both potatoes and sweet potatoes, we have to break down and release the starch stored inside their cells. Because some of that starch is resistant starch, this breakdown takes time and effort, so although both potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in carbs, they don’t act the same way in our body as high-carb processed foods. Interestingly, an extract (known as caiapo) from white sweet potatoes is a promising type 2 diabetes treatment, and has been shown to improve many markers of metabolic disease. In fact, locals in Japan commonly ate white sweet potatoes raw as a treatment for anemia, hypertension, and diabetes. And it also means that most healthy and active people can eat potatoes and sweet potatoes just fine.
Because of the type and nature of the carbohydrates they contain, both potatoes and sweet potatoes fill us up, give us energy, and leave us satiated for a long time. In general, potatoes and sweet potatoes are roughly similar in their vitamin and mineral content. But when it comes to vitamins and minerals, orange sweet potatoes are vitamin A superstars. Vitamin A occurs in retinol form in animal foods such as eggs, and in rich industrialized countries, many people can afford to eat these foods. Along with other colorful fruits and vegetables (such as leafy greens and squash), orange sweet potatoes contain high levels of the carotenoid form of vitamin A.
Improving access to sweet potatoes and breeding vitamin-A-rich sweet potatoes are thus important nutritional strategies for preventing vitamin A deficiency.


Both potatoes and sweet potatoes contain antioxidants, substances that help control oxidative damage in the body.
The phytochemicals (plant chemicals) in potatoes and sweet potatoes may also keep us healthy by regulating the immune system, fighting viruses and other pathogens, controlling inflammation, and inhibiting tumour growth. In fact, red-fleshed or purple-fleshed potatoes are comparable to Brussels sprouts, blueberries or spinach! Potatoes contain proteins such as patatins and lectins which can be allergenic, particularly if potatoes are eaten raw. People who have other allergies (particularly latex allergies) are more susceptible to potato allergies, as are children.
Potatoes also contain protease inhibitors, which may prompt an allergic reaction or interfere with the digestion of proteins. Potatoes contain salicylates, which can cause problems for those with a salicylate intolerance. Baking, boiling, or roasting potatoes and sweet potatoes is generally healthier than frying them. A little bit of healthy fat with sweet potatoes in particular will help you absorb their vitamin A. When eaten as whole, minimally processed foods, both potatoes and sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense. Both potatoes and sweet potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are relatively hardy crops that are easy to grow in most climates, although sweet potatoes prefer things a little warmer. Comparatively, potatoes and sweet potatoes are low-impact crops, requiring minimal water or additional processing. You might have guessed that while we rely a lot on clinical research, we also try to keep a sense of perspective. Moreover, people can easily adapt this general recommendation to meet their individual goals. We recommend that people experiment with various types of potatoes and sweet potatoes as well as cooking methods and cuisines. As little as a cupped handful of sweet potato a day can provide all the vitamin A that a small child needs.
And, as mentioned, green potatoes are poisonous (so cut off the green bits or toss green potatoes altogether). This can be potatoes or sweet potatoes, but also a host of other delicious and nutritious choices: beans and lentils, fruit, whole minimally processed grains, etc. White potatoes may be a problem, if you have an underlying susceptibility (such as an autoimmune disease or other allergies, particularly a latex allergy).


Andean potato cultivars (Solanum tuberosum L.) as a source of antioxidant and mineral micronutrients.
Relationship between processing method and the glycemic indices of ten sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivars commonly consumed in Jamaica. Study on chemical constituents and antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from purple sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.). Distribution of phenolic compounds and antioxidative activities in parts of sweet potato (Ipomoea batata L.) plants and in home processed roots.
Cloning and characterization of an Orange gene that increases carotenoid accumulation and salt stress tolerance in transgenic sweetpotato cultures. Red and purple coloured potatoes as a significant antioxidant source in human nutrition – a review. The introduction of orange-fleshed sweet potato in Mozambican diets: A marginal change to make a major difference. A food-based approach introducing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes increased vitamin A intake and serum retinol concentrations in young children in rural Mozambique. Some Canadian-grown potato cultivars contribute to a substantial content of essential dietary minerals. Comparison of the nutrient composition of four sweet potato varieties cultivated in Rwanda. Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceania obscured by modern plant movements and recombination.
Multiple biological functions of sporamin related to stress tolerance in sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas Lam).
Relationship among the carotenoid content, dry matter content and sensory attributes of sweet potato.
Sweet potato and cassava can modify cholesterol profile in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol levels. Microstructure and in vitro beta carotene bioaccessibility of heat processed orange fleshed sweet potato. Cutting up potatoes and sweet potatoes helps preserve their starchiness, while cooking them whole results in more sugariness.



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