Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes & Yams

Health Benefits of Sweet Potato & Yams

Sweet potatoes / yams are found in a variety of colours. The most common are ones with white, yellow, or orange cream. The purple ones are very rich in antioxidants so better for our health.

They have all the vital vitamins & minerals that are needed for enzyme production to digest protein & carbohydrates & eliminate excess fats that we consume. Perfect for & our metabolism !!!

The 10 health benefits:

  1. Excellent choice for diabetics. Like beets & carrots, sweet potatoes & yams contain natural sugars that decrease and stabilize the insulin resistance in diabetics. All these also help regulate the sugar levels in the body. They are complex carbohydrates & digest slowly & gradually increase energy levels.
  2. Sweet Potatoes are rich in soluble dietary fibre that clings on to the fats consumed & flushes it out of the digestive system. Thus it helps reduce body fat & cholesterol. They also prevent colon cancer & constipation because they are fibre rich.
  3. Like carrots, sweet potato & yams are rich in beta carotene they get converted to Vitamin A in our body that is good for eye sight. Beta carotene act as an antioxidant so it helps with arthritis. It helps asthma patients & smokers alike as it regenerates the respiratory system. Overall it regulates the heart beats, nerve signals & relaxes the muscles. It protects against lung cancer & breast cancer.
  4. They contain Vitamin D that is good for teeth, bones, skin & most importantly for the normal function of the Thyroid gland.
  5. It is abundant in Vitamin C that is critical for the entire body function.
  6. Rich in Vitamin B6 It supports the body immune system. It promotes good healthy tissues & muscles thus prevents heart attacks, strokes, & all degenerative diseases including arthritis, lupus & rheumatism.
  7. Sweet potatoes & yams are a good source of iron so they help against anemia.
  8. They are rich in potassium so they lower the impact of sodium consumed. They help regulate blood pressure & the flow of oxygen thus overall heart function.
  9. The Vitamin E content improves skin complexion, prevents wrinkles & improves hair health.
  10. The combination of iron & manganese & folic acid in sweet potatoes & yams is ideal for pregnant women & those with menstrual problems. Manganese is also an anti stress agent.

The secret to loosing weight & staying off it !!!

An average sensible diet for weight control would include home prepared meals with items that are not processed in any way. The goal is to include as few chemicals as possible. Fresh meats, eggs, poultry, sea foods all chemical free. It would include almost all fresh farm produce, dried beans, legumes, cereals, nuts, seeds, & the like. Selected dairy products that are not processed are suitable.

Most commercial bakery products do not support weight loss because of the commercial yeast, like candida, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), refined, bleached, or enriched wheat flour, (that are stripped of all nutrients) & several chemicals that are used in the process. Home made bread, roti & other similar bread substitutes, prepared with whole wheat, are excellent.

As an antidote to some chemicals & occasionally bad gut bacteria creeping in I have included home made curds in this diet. This is an excellent probiotic consisting of active strains of good gut bacteria that is beneficial to the digestive system. (curd  preparation & value are in a previous post.)

Commercial deserts, candy, beverages, etc are loaded with HFCS. This artificial sweetener is cheap, 20 times sweeter than sugar & very addictive. HFCS does not get recognized by our brain as “food” as it is artificial. Hence it is automatically converted to FAT. Home made deserts prepared with regular sugar, jaggery, maple syrup & other natural, less refined options are healthier.

With bad gut bacteria, HFCS, & chemicals out of the way chances are that weight loss is guaranteed.

Yes it is.

However, research shows that loosing the first 15 to 20 lbs is sure & steady. Then you reach a “plateau”. The scale seems to stop moving. No progress can be recorded. The new neurological brain cells take time to change & strengthen. You must make a deliberate effort to consciously accept this phenomena. Get ready to shatter past conditioning & the “blue print” in your brain that subconsciously takes you back to your previous habits & weight.

Reformation requires discipline aided by creativity, innovation, & adjustment. These in turn requires investment in time & effort in yourself. Continue to look at your “vision board” often, read aloud your “Daily Affirmations” with passion & force. Place your hand on your heart & state your Declarations –what you WANT. Example : “I will allow only those thoughts that support me to get thin.” Look for the good, find it, celebrate it & believe it !!! Take joy & pleasure in embracing this new lifestyle. You will be cheerful, joyous & fulfilled.

Once the plateau phase is passed you will continue to  loose more weight like a breeze ! The breakthrough has arrived & with it certainty, confidence & success that grows every day, never to look back !

Fresh look at Fats

Most of us are very careful about the amount of fat we consume. We limit it to the bare minimum. It is important to know that fat is essential for our health —to nourish hair, skin & nails, to create hormones, enzymes, & for all body functions. Many essential vitamins are fat soluble like vitamin A,D,E & K. Milk fat, eggs, & fat found in all nuts & seeds fruits & some fish are very good for us. We trim off most of the fat from our meats before cooking. We should not fear naturally occurring fats. However margarine & trans fats can be avoided.

Here I would like to point out that it is not the fat but the High Fructose Corn Syrup & other chemicals added to food, that poses the real threat to our survival. This artificial sweetener, gets converted to fat instead of energy because our body does not recognize it as a sugar, it is a chemical. HFCS is cheap, 20 times sweeter than sugar and addictive. It is added to all items served in fast food outlets, included in all processed foods, sauces, jams, jellies, commercial deserts & candy. HFCS is added to every bakery product to raise the yeast. We tend to overeat these “food” items. When preservatives & other chemicals for improving taste, flavor, & color   are added to the product, most of our organs & glands are affected. Our body is deprived of the ability to create enzymes, to digest food & derive the nutrients from food. The body converts all that we have eaten into fat, (or expels it in the case of very thin people). This fat cannot be controlled by diet or exercise. We must be willing to gradually change our eating habits & revert to home made meals, breads, cakes, cookies & deserts all cooked with fresh ingredients, herbs, spices &, yes, with no fear of fats, sugar, carbs & protein in moderation.

We now know that the fat forming ingredients are HFCS, & all the many chemicals that the food conglomerates are adding to “processed food” every day!!!

We can guarantee improved digestion, weight control, youthful vigor, strong immune system, & over all zest for life if we can gradually learn to avoid these.

Our body has self healing powers !!!

The underlying miracle of the human body is that it is in a continual state of ceaseless regeneration .There is this continual cell turnover within the body which allows for self healing. Old cells die & are replaced with new ones.

Today more than ever before it is imperative that we are aware & alert about what we eat. Take advantage of the fact  that our body tissues can be improved thru nutrition. Switch to fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, all types of dried beans, peas.  Fresh meats, chicken, fish, eggs, milk butter, cheese, & curds. Fresh or powdered herbs, spices, condiments; oils like coconut, mustard, olive oils to name a few healthy choices.

Healthy food options will stimulate our body to peak performance, vibrant vigor, & mental sharpness, that leads to a high quality of life at every age.

The good news is that however badly we have treated our body in the past, if we are willing to switch to a healthy change in “life style” today, there is a strong chance that we can effectively reverse it back into balance.

Life style change would include four fundamental areas

  1. Consume only home cooked meals. In my blog I have included many easy tips & suggestions that take the drudgery & discomfort out.  So it is not a chore. I have helped eliminate wastage of time energy & resources too.
  2. Reduce the items that are loaded with chemicals. All the fake foods & beverages. Unfortunately most items in stores contain preservatives. It is the most commonly used chemical & perhaps the most harmful to our digestive system. Items that have long shelf life like canned, bottled, packaged, ready made ones, also everything sold in fast food outlets.These deprive you of energy & create digestive disorders. Instead puree your own tomatoes & bell peppers. Use natural herbs & spices to add flavor & taste to home prepared meals. Make “roti” & home made breads, cakes & cookies at home.
  3. Artificial sweeteners like HFCS are also chemicals that are included in all commercial bakery products. This High Fructose Corn Syrup is needed to raise yeast, it is 20 times sweeter than sugar & very addictive. It has become indispensable to the food industry. It is the number one cause of obesity. Since it is empty calories it is simply converted to fat that is hard to get rid of with diet or exercise. It is found in all commercial deserts, jams, jellies, sauces, breakfast foods, snacks & candy. Research shows that fat tissues in our body allow free radicals to abide there—Causing cancer!! HFCS also blocks our body from absorbing the fat soluble nutrients from our food namely Vitamin A,D,E & K. Yeast fungi feed on HFCS. This bad bacteria increases in our gut & demands more HFCS to feed on. Thus creates a vicious cycle. Our digestive system gets clogged up, less enzymes are produced, the body is blocked from absorbing nutrients. Result- slow metabolism.
  4. Prepare home made curds to ensure excellent health. It is a probiotic substance. Curds are an excellent antidote for the bad gut bacteria. It can be sweet or savory, eaten or made into a refreshing drink to have with a meal instead of tea or coffee. Caffeine must be avoided during meal time as it prevents our body from absorbing iron. The full procedure for curd preparation is in this blog. A cup of home made curds consumed daily will help increase the good gut bacteria in the digestive tract and aid all the enzymes to break down the food efficiently to absorb all the nutrients.

I recommend that we take vitamin & mineral supplements from natural sources because the quality of our food is not the best. Cod liver oil to supply us with vitamin A & D. Take vitamin B, & C, calcium, magnesium, iron & or multivitamin regularly.

Fiber the forgotten essential !

Fibers are more than just roughage found in foods of plant origin. (Foods derived from animals do not contain any fiber.)

They are of two types, soluble & insoluble. Each has its value & purpose in our diet.

Good sources of soluble fibers include apples, bananas, citrus fruits, rice bran, oat bran, pulses, dried beans like kidney beans, lentils (daals) & agar agar. Also herbs like chia seeds, sweet basil, & psysillium husk. These dissolve & swell when put into water. Pectin is a soluble fiber that causes jams, jellies & marmalade to gel.

Soluble fiber encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut & strengthens the muscles of the intestine. It binds the cancer forming substances (carcinogens), cholesterol, & some fats in our digestive tract, prevents its absorption, then expels it through the stools. It prevents heart disease by lowering the blood cholesterol level.

Oats, gums, legumes & mucilage, rich in soluble fiber, have proved successful in controlling diabetes by gradually releasing glucose into the blood.

Foods rich in insoluble fiber are wheat bran, potatoes, carrots, leafy vegetables, cabbages & some in nearly all foods of vegetable origin. This is not digested but has the ability to attract & hold water as it passes through the intestine binding & removing with it many toxic substances that could trigger diseases like colon cancer, appendicitis, hernia (diverticulitis), piles (hemorrhoids), varicose veins, bile stones & constipation. Insoluble fiber rich foods contain several vitamins & minerals too.

An average person carries at least 20 lbs of crap in his gut. Two or more servings of fruits & vegetables per day is recommended. Meals containing high fiber foods creates a feeling of fullness & satisfaction. Obesity & conditions related to it are reduced.

Foods containing less or no fiber are all meats, egg, cheese, all dairy products, all bakery products & polished rice.

Recommended daily allowance is 25 to 40 grams /day.



Jaggery (Goor) the best sugar substitute !

Finding a sugar substitute  has been a decade long search !

This versatile sweetner, jaggery, has all the health benefits, healing power, & much more !

Unlike sugar, jaggery releases energy  slower as it is a complex carbohydrate. This makes it efficient to regulate the sugar in our blood- a definite plus for the diabetic person. By adding jaggery in our diet we improve the overall metabolic rate & strengthen the digestive tract, the gut.

Both Jaggery & sugar are ‘sucrose’ hence they must be taken within limits.  The most important difference is that sugar becomes acidic when it enters the digestive tract but jaggery stays alkaline, this is why it is good for the gut & the digestive system.

Jaggery helps in the metabolism of calcium, which it is rich in, thus it restores bone health. Sadly sugar interferes with the absorption of calcium & magnesium.

Jaggery is rich in iron thus makes it valuable in improving hemoglobin count & improves anemic conditions. It is an immunity  & memory booster.

As it is loaded with trace vitamins & minerals it helps improve the skin & prevents wrinkles. Dissolved in warm water & applied to the scalp, for 15 minutes before rinsing helps improve hair quality & quantity. It is known to reconstruct damaged skin cells.

Jaggery regulates blood pressure & is also a good blood purifier.

Jaggery enhances the nutritive value of the food along with  taste, color & flavor.

Cooking is a Creative Art

Healthy meals are unfairly associated with hard work, boring, tasteless stuff !

Fruits : These should be eaten raw. At any age our body is able to absorb the nutrients from these natural power packed foods. They can be added to salads, in a wide variety of combinations, thereby enhance the nutritional value of the dish. Citrus fruits loose their sourness when a pinch of salt & pepper is sprinkled on them. Apples & guava become interesting when salt, chili powder & lemon juice is mixed into them.Raw avocado becomes a delicious spread with a little imagination !

Vegetables: Seniors can derive the nutrients only from cooked vegetables.                       There is a standard way of cooking vegetables in Indian cuisine.                                                Ingredients: 1 cup of clean, finely chopped vegetable, 1 tbsp oil,  1/4 tsp cumin seeds, few grains of black mustard seeds, few grains of fenugreek seeds, 1/4  onion chopped, 1 green chili chopped, 2 pods of garlic chopped, 5 curry leaves, some coriander & mint leaves chopped, mixture made with 1/2 tomato chopped, 1/8 tsp turmeric, pinch of pepper, 1/2 tsp coriander powder & 2 tbsp  water. Salt to taste.

Method: In hot oil add cumin, mustard, & fenugreek seeds, when these crackle, add onion, chili, garlic, & curry leaves. Fry for a minute then add the mixture made with tomato & all the last few ingredients. The important point to remember is to keep a lid ready to cover the pan when you put the liquid mixture in the hot oil. This will keep the flavor of the spices in the pan & in the vegetable you put in next. Cook for 5 minutes & garnish with coriander & mint leaves. Every vegetable has a unique taste & flavor. Although the method is the same, taste will differ. Spinach must be cooked with any dairy product (curds, cheese etc) to derive maximum absorption of the iron in it. Tomato & lemon also enhances its nutritive value.

Soups: A quick & easy way to stay healthy,& satisfied. Again there is lots of room to be creative & add variety to the meal. The pressure cooker comes in handy where by you can throw in a bunch of items of your choice, like carrots, potatoes, leeks, celery , beans, peas, onion, corn, cook, with chicken/turkey stock,  add a few choice herbs/spices & it is done !   Feet of goat, chicken or cow are very rich in gelatin. It must be cut into very small pieces by the butcher & cooked in a pressure cooker with corn or barley & lots of onion, garlic, ginger & whole spices (garam masala). After cooking remove the surface fat into a cup & freeze it. Next day discard the frozen layer of fat & put the gelatin back into soup. Garnish & enjoy.   This is excellent for strengthening bones, joints & ligaments.

Meats: I strongly recommend marinating all meats before cooking, perhaps even before freezing it to cook another day !  For 1 lb meat: Wash, clean, remove all visible fat, add 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste (this reduces the acidity in the meats), 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ‘garam masala’— that is, pepper, cinnamon, big black cardamom, & cloves, all ground together, any 1 sour ingredient like curds, tomato, lemon, tamarind, soy sauce (these with turmeric act as natural preservatives) & salt. Marinade helps the salt & spices penetrate into the meat, tenderizes it, enhances the flavor, & preserves it from deteriorating if there is a delay in cooking after it is thawed & cooks faster !

Chicken Biryani:

Ingredients: 1 full chicken,  (marinated with 1/2 cup curds/yogurt, 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste, 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp salt.),  4 chopped tomatoes, 3 large potatoes, 6 finely chopped onions, 1/2 cup oil, 2 red bell peppers, 1 tsp red hot chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 cup ground almonds, handful of mint & coriander leaves, oil to deep fry potatoes, & salt to taste.                                                           Rice: 3 cups Basmati rice, 1 stick of cinnamon, 8 cloves, 8 peppercorns, 2 large black cardamon, in 1/4 cup milk add 1 pinch of saffron & a pinch of yellow food color.                       Method: Cut & marinate chicken. Keep aside. Cut & fry potatoes with a dash of salt & turmeric till cooked. Keep aside. Fry onions golden brown. Put all the dry spices, red chili, turmeric & cumin powders, almonds, with the finely chopped tomatoes & bell peppers. Now put this into the hot frying onions & oil & quickly cover with lid to retain flavor. Stir  till the “masala”seems to fry. Add in all the chicken pieces with marinade. Cook for 20 minutes till dry. Mix in the potatoes. The chicken must seem to have absorbed all the gravy. In a large pan boil water to cook rice that has been soaked for 15 minutes. Add 3 tbsp salt. When almost cooked drain all the water & put all the rice on top of the chicken. In warm milk add saffron & yellow color. Add this to the rice along with fried whole spices. Garnish with chopped coriander & mint leaves. Cover with tight fitting lid & let it be on very low heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot !