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The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow

A.A. Milne

Ohhhh potatoes. I love potatoes, in all forms, shapes and sizes. Jacket, mashed, boiled, sautéed, roasted, chipped….. So good! White potatoes and sweet potatoes, I love them all.  It’s often thought that sweet potato is better for you than other white potatoes. It seems to be the go to potato for those trying to improve their health, lose weight, reduce cards. For many reasons the sweet potato is seen to be the better of the two. Is that really the case though?

Both are highly nutritious. They have similar calories at around 90 calories per 100g and (maybe surprisingly) they also have very similar carbohydrate, fat and protein content. So where are the differences?

With skins on the sweet potato wins the fibre competition hands down, with around 50% more fibre than the white potato. Fibre is really important for digestive health, keeping things moving, feeding our good gut bacteria, and helping to protect us against nasty diseases. In the UK we should be aiming for 30g per day so the skin on sweet potato is a good place to start.

In the vitamin stakes, the sweet potato completely mashes the white potato with its really high vitamin A content. Vitamin A is essential for good immunity, maintaining good eyesight, and contributes to healthy skin and hair. 100g of sweet potato provides 107% of your daily recommended intake, while the white potato provides just 0.1%. Quite the difference hey!

It also provides more of vitamins C and B6, which are great for healthy skin, bones, blood and overall cell health.

White potato marginally wins the minerals contest though, It has better potassium levels, which we need for muscle contraction, nerve function, heart health and the regulating of blood pressure.

Roast potatoes
Sweet potato slices

There can be some differences in how the potatoes affect your blood sugar levels, with sweet potatoes on the whole causing less of a spike.

This is good because it means it is being digested more slowly, providing you with energy over a longer period. However, this isn’t gospel truth across the board. It varies widely dependant on the type of potato and how it is cooked.

If you leave the skin on there is less of an impact on blood sugar, whereas in comparison if you peeled, boiled and mashed the potatoes the impact is much higher because it is more quickly digested.

 

So which one wins? I don’t know that there is a clear winner here but if I HAD to choose one over the other here my preference would probably be the sweet potato. I think instead of saying one is better than the other we should say that both have benefits and have a place in a well-balanced diet. More to the point, which one do you like the most? That one is the winner, surely?

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Although the post makes reference to meeting the levels of vitamin A in the diet, there are safe upper limits for the intake and it is not advisable to take supplements and also eat foods high in vitamin A. Please take a look at the page from the NHS which gives guidance on this: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a.

 

There’s no such thing as bad food

There’s no such thing as bad food

There’s no such thing as bad food

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.

Erma Bombeck

How many times have you heard someone say they can’t eat something because they’re on a diet and it’s ‘bad for them’? It’s so sad. This way of thinking has been around for a long time but I think it’s getting more pronounced, especially with the appearance of ‘clean’ eating. What a nasty term that is – but more about that in another blog post! The reality is that there really is no bad food, unless you have an allergy or intolerance. Even then the food isn’t ‘bad’, it’s just not something your body could tolerate so you can’t really eat it. Other than that everything can be enjoyed. Every food has a place in your diet.  

Let’s talk about cake. Why shouldn’t you have a slice of birthday cake if everyone else is celebrating? Does it make you happy to avoid it when everyone else is having a slice? No, probably not. Will that slice of cake do a whole heap of damage to your body, your weight, or your mental health? No, it will not. ⁠The ingredients of a cake are usually based around flour, eggs, butter, sugar, some flavourings, and then the glorious filling. Oh my life, how I love cake!! Are those ingredients bad? No. Are they each full of nutrients and energy that the body can use? Yes. Do they suddenly become ‘bad’ when combined and baked? No!

Not convinced yet? Ok, let’s break some of the ingredients down to explain it. Flour is a source of protein, vitamins, fibre, and carbohydrates, all necessary for your body to function well. Eggs are a wonderful source of protein, fats, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Butter is a great source of vitamins A along with vitamins E, B12 and K. Also, calcium, phosphorus, and other B vitamins, and some fatty acids that have been shown to benefit health.

‘But sugar is soooooo bad for you!’ Nope, wrong. Table sugar is actually a great source of energy. Our body’s primary energy source is glucose. Sugar is a disaccharide made up of only fructose and glucose, so it doesn’t take an awful lot for the body to break it down into its constituent parts and get that quick energy burst it might be looking for. 

Canva - Delicious Slice of Red Velvet Cake

Sugar really is about as close as you can get to providing fuel for your body. Do I need to go on? Probably not. I’ve made my point. It’s been long engrained in us that cake is ‘bad’, but actually you can now see that there are some great things to come out of that lovely slice of victoria sponge. (Here’s a recipe by the way, just in case you’re now motivated to make one!)

Just in case I haven’t sold you on this yet, let’s do another. How about ice cream? If you have a craving for ice cream on a hot day will it make you happy to not have one? No of course it won’t. Will having an ice cream create lasting problems for your body, cause massive weight gains, or negatively affect your mental health? No, of course not. ⁠What will actually happen is you will deprive yourself and trigger a fixation on ice cream. It will be all you think about for a while. Nothing will quite hit the spot. Maybe you’ll eat a stack of other foods to try to curb that craving, or maybe later you’ll eat several ice creams, or a big tub of it. That’s because that’s what restriction does. This is the binge-restrict cycle. If you actually let yourself go and have that ice cream what will happen? You’ll eat ice cream, you’ll feel refreshed from the heat, you’ll have some pleasure in your day, you won’t spend the rest of the day wishing you’d had one, and guess what – you won’t have suddenly expanded your waist line (not that that would be a problem anyway). 

What if you released your restriction and have a slice of cake, or a second if you fancy it? Having an ice cream, and maybe another one later if you want it. That’s all ok.

The problems only arise when our diet is made up largely of these items and you have too few nutrient dense foods in your diet. Then there is likely to be a negative impact on health and wellbeing, and not because the one food is ‘bad’ but because our bodies need the things you’re not giving it enough of. ⁠

In actual fact, the restriction you are putting on yourself will have a more negative impact than good. Saying no and being so strict makes you feel bad, makes you sad, and ultimately leads to later binges of the restricted items.⁠

Ice Cream on Cone With Gray Metallic Holder Photo

So here is the message for a healthy, happy relationship with food – eat it. If you stop restricting and start allowing yourself to eat anything you want you will almost certainly find that after a while those foods actually don’t hold that much power over you. The drive to eat them won’t be so loud because you’ve given yourself permission to eat it. You’ll have them when you want them, and other times you’ll have other, more nutritious foods. If you feel like you’re needing some more of the nutritious stuff then have it, but you don’t need to remove the other stuff in order to do that. You can have both! Your body knows what it’s doing, and once this becomes a way of life you will instinctively know what you need from your food, and you’ll realise that your overall balance of nutrients over time is perfectly fine.

Be kind to yourself, enjoy eating. There is no need for guilt. Know that every food has a value, and if you shake off those food rules you can love food so much more.

 

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠. 

Do carrots really help you see in the dark?

Do carrots really help you see in the dark?

Do carrots really help you see in the dark?

I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat, and that is all. I must be part rabbit; I never get bored of raw carrots.

Marilyn Monroe

The old adage says to eat plenty of carrots and you will see better in the dark. But why is that?⁠

Vitamins often have other names, and this one is also known as retinal. Your body needs retinal in order to synthesis rhodopsin, the pigment needed by the eyes to be able to see in dim light. Not enough vitamin A in your diet and you risk developing a condition called nyctalopia, aka night blindness!⁠

That’s not all that vitamin A is good for though. It is also very important for good development, a healthy immune system and healthy skin.⁠

The average adult female requires 0.6mg and adult male requires 0.7mg per day, and this is easily found in a well-balanced diet. Good sources include oily fish, milk and cheese, liver, and foods containing beta-carotene. These are yellow, red and green vegetables (for example, those carrots we were talking about, red peppers, and spinach) and yellow fruits (such as mango and apricots)⁠.

So if carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body, and vitamin A is needed for good vision in dim light, that old wives’ tale certainly does have some truth to it⁠.

This week the #triviatuesday question on Instagram asked which vitamin supposedly helps you to see in the dark. The correct answer was vitamin A.⁠

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

There are safe upper limits for the intake of vitamin A. It is not advisable to take supplements and also eat foods high in vitamin A. Please take a look at the page from the NHS in the links below which gives guidance on this.