Make this Holiday Season Your Healthiest Yet by Adding These Superfoods

 

The holidays to us means lots of tasty food, glasses of wine and delightful deserts and we all totally over-indulged this Thanksgiving! However, Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of pH Labs’ believes that the holiday season can be the perfect time of the year to take advantage of two delicious super foods, sweet potato and pumpkin, so you can eat as much as your heart desires just without the guilt!

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pH Labs’ is a national nonprofit health information organization, that includes a diverse team of health care professionals who are experts in making complex health and health-related topics easy to understand for us and how we can apply them to our everyday lives and families. They told us some interesting facts about these two superfoods and how we can substitute them easily into our lives.

Joy Stephenson-Laws, Founder of pH Labs’

Sweet potatoes contain adiponectin, a protein made by fat cells that circulates in our bloodstreams. Low levels of this protein have been found in people who have trouble metabolizing insulin. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber, which can help pace digestion which is good for regulating blood sugar level.

 

Sweet Potatoes May Help Fight Inflammation

Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into

 

 vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation by diminishing free radical damage. If we reduce our amount of free radical damage, we may also be able to lower our risk of life-threatening diseases, like cancer and sweet potatoes have more than 400 per cent of your daily vitamin A needs. Joy recommends eating them with a little bit of good fat, such as olive oil. This fat helps our body to better absorb the vitamin A.

Sweet Potatoes May Help Protect You from Dangerous Heavy Metals

Purple sweet potatoes have been known to help lower the potential health risks posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. They are rich in compounds called anthocyanins, which provide a lot of antioxidant activity and may bind to heavy metals, like mercury, and therefore help remove them from our bodies.

Sweet Potatoes May Help with Liver Damage from Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Anthocyanins, what we previously mentioned in purple sweet potatoes are also associated with improving liver damage from alcohol abuse, according to a study conducted by the NIH.

Sweet Potatoes May Help Regulate Your Blood Sugar Levels

 

In One Cup of Orange Sweet Potatoes

  • Calcium, 40mg – Calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth and this mineral is also important for maintaining hair and nail health. Adequate calcium intake may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Magnesium, 33mg – Magnesium helps with blood pressure regulation and has antioxidant properties.
  • Phosphorus, 63mg – This mineral works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.
  • Potassium, 448mg – This mineral works with sodium to balance the fluid and electrolytes in the body. Potassium also helps keep blood pressure under control and may help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age. Most adults need about 4,700mg of potassium per day.
  • Sodium, 73mg – Reducing your sodium intake can help lower high blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are a great source of natural sodium.

Sweet Potato Ideas

 

  • Oven-baked sweet potato fries – This is a great, healthy snack or side to go along with your dinner. If you are looking to be a bit more innovative with these root vegetables, check out this recipe for sweet potato brownies.

Pumpkin Spice & Flavoring

Pumpkin spice is a mix of some of our favorite spices, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sometimes allspice. Spices do have various health benefits, for example ginger helps with digestions and cloves are said to inhibit tumor growth.

However, Suzy Weems, Ph.D professor at Baylor University’s College of Health and Human Science said: “Pumpkin-laced candy is still candy, and things like pumpkin donuts still have sugar. Most of these products only use a small amount of pumpkin for its flavor, which means it’s nearly impossible to reap any health benefits from the pumpkin itself.”

Pumpkin snacks such as Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts are just one of the many season inspired treats that can play tricks on us. A single pastry has 200 calories, 5g fat and 1.5g of saturated fat.

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

A whole pumpkin has a wide range of health benefits. Just like carrots, pumpkins have carotenoids. Carotenoids are a class of naturally occurring red, orange and yellow plant pigments called phytochemicals. Carotenoids may assist with lowered incidence of cardiovascular disease, eye diseases and cancer. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of beta-carotene, which can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, increase protection against asthma and heart disease and delay aging and body degeneration.

Healthy Tips for Pumpkin Consumption

Cooking a pumpkin follows a similar guide to baking a squash. Here is an easy step-by-step guide on how to prepare and bake a pumpkin.

In One Cup of Pumpkin

  • More than 200% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A
  • 19% of the RDA of vitamin C
  • 10% + of the RDA of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese
  • 5% of thiamin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium and phosphorus

We can’t wait to try some of these tasty tricks and tips at our homes during this holiday season and impress our family by accompanying our Christmas dinners. Let us know if you have any superfood tricks you use to boost your family’s nutritional intake!

 

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