Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD, RD, LD

Licensed Nutritionist & Environmental Health Specialist

Archive for the ‘sweet potato’ tag


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blueberry-cocoanut-date-slicesBlueberries are one of the most potent foods in terms of protecting the brain according to Martha Clare Morris, PhD, nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Berries are the only fruit specifically identified in the MIND diet (Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay).

The diet emphasizes vegetables, berries, fish and healthy fats. The study focused on 923 volunteers from Chicago retirement communities who earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. The March 2015 Journal of the American Alzheimer’s Association reported the diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) when the diet was adhered to rigorously.

Since no one wants the devastating toll AD causes on cognitive function, blueberries have become brain food ever since a preliminary study of daily consumption of wild blueberry juice in 9 older adults with cognitive issues was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2010. Subsequent studies using rats fed a blueberry rich diet for 2 months added more excitement to the blueberry health message.

Ronald Prior, PhD at the USDA found one cup of wild blueberries had more total antioxidant capacity than 20 other fruits (including cranberries, strawberries, plums, raspberries and cultivated blueberries). Wild blueberries had the highest total phenolic content among the 25 fruits and vegetables reported by Rui Hi Lui in the Journal of Food Science 2013. Phenolics are phytochemical compounds in plants that protect them from climate insults and pests so they can grow and reproduce.

The USDA Database for Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods 2014 shows the difference between choosing wild vs cultivated blueberries. Wild blueberries (lowbush variety) are smaller and have more antioxidant power with intense flavor. Cultivated (highbush variety) blueberries are bigger with less antioxidants like anthocyanin.

Anthocyanins help protect the body against age related disorders like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. When the diet does not include enough antioxidants like anthocyanins, free radicals build up in the body and cause oxidative stress which is associated with disease.

High anthocyanin containing foods like blueberries are consumed on faith since there are no immediate short-term benefits that can be felt or tested.

My favorite way of enjoying blueberries- wild or cultivated- is a healthy breakfast of Sweet Potato Pancakes with Blueberry Banana Fruit Sauce. Both of these recipes are low glycemic and are tasty additions to a healthy paleo diet.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and baked
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 egg
2 tablespoons coconut or whole grain flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Beat together all ingredients until smooth. Heat lightly oiled large skillet or griddle. Spoon batter onto griddle. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown (do not turn too soon or pancake will fall apart). Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 6- 3 inch pancakes. Serve warm with fruit sauce.

Calories per pancake 84
Protein 3g
Carbohydrates 12g
Fat 2g
Sodium 129 mcg

Note: Raw sweet potatoes can be used by grinding in food processor before combining with rest of the ingredients and adding 1 additional egg to the batter.

Blueberry Banana Fruit Sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana
1 orange, peeled
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Serve over waffles or pancakes. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Calories per 1/4 cup 48
Protein 1g
Carbohydrates 12g
Fat 0
Sodium 39mcg

Written by bwsl

April 24th, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

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Spicy Sweet Potato FriesMore than 11 million Americans suffer from some form of macular degeneration, a serious eye condition that can lead to significant vision loss and even blindness. The recent Journal of Clinical Investigation indicated that it is the most common source of central vision loss in North America.

While good nutrition is no guarantee of avoiding macular degeneration, who wouldn’t want to try? Especially if preserving eye health is as delicious as eating more sweet potatoes, a tuber that originated in South and Central America. The carotenoids in sweet potatoes — lutein and zeaxanthin — absorb damaging blue and ultraviolet light, which can damage the macula of the eye. Sweet potatoes and other deep-orange foods also have oxygen-carrying carotenoids, which also are key to eye health.

The cause of macular degeneration is unknown but aging is definitely a factor. Lifestyle factors also matter: Smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke are at greater risk. Those consuming a high sugar or high glycemic diet (doughnuts, cookies, cakes, high fructose corn sweeteners) were shown to have increased incidence of the disease, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Nutritionists have known for years that simple sugars damage proteins in cells and affect their function. Combine that with damaging sun rays and vision loss too often is the result.

An eye exam can identify if yellow spots on the retina called drusen, an early sign of the condition, are beginning to form. But why wait for trouble to begin? Get your health in order, and you may avoid this and other serious conditions entirely.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

1 pound sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds or 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons honey

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into long sticks about 1/4 inch thick. Toss potatoes in oil to coat. Bake on sheet pan until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine paprika, salt, cumin and coriander in blender or mortar and pestle. Grind fine. Remove fries from oven. Sprinkle seasoning over fries and bake 5 more minutes. Drizzle on honey just before serving. Makes 2 servings.

Calories per serving: 178; Protein 3g; Carbohydrates 22g; Fat 9g; Sodium 389mg.

Written by bwsl

December 24th, 2014 at 8:06 pm