The white stuff is the right stuff, too.
That rainbow of green, red and orange veggies tends to take prime position for top nutrient sources, but white vegetables (e.g. potatoes, cauliflower, turnips, onions, parsnips, mushrooms and kohlrabi) are nutrient powerhouses that have a place at the table too according to the authors of the Advances in Nutrition supplement White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients. The authors review current and emerging science about some of the key health benefits we can gain from tucking into white veggies, including increasing our intake of fibre, potassium and magnesium – nutrients many of us don’t get enough of.
‘It’s recommended that the variety of fruits and vegetables consumed daily should include dark green and orange vegetables, but no such recommendation exists for white vegetables, even though they are rich in fiber, potassium and magnesium,’ says the supplement’s editor Prof. Connie Weaver from Purdue University, an expert in mineral bioavailability, calcium metabolism and bone health. ‘Western diets have led to a decrease in potassium with fewer fruits and vegetables, and at the same time, there’s been an increase in sodium consumption because people eat more processed foods. While potatoes are one of the highest sources of dietary potassium, when processed, they are often higher in salt. While potassium improves blood flow, too much salt increases blood pressure, making the vascular system work harder. The relationship between potassium and sodium is interesting because how the two work together may influence risk of cardiovascular disease. The human body needs both, but today’s problem is sodium consumption is up and potassium is down. Because potassium-to-sodium intake ratios are more strongly related to cardiovascular disease risk than either nutrient alone, more research is needed to understand this relationship.’
– The Advances in Nutrition supplement is the outcome of a June 2012 Purdue University roundtable on white vegetable nutrition which was supported by an unrestricted grant by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.
Dr Alan Barclay comments: There’s no need to say ‘no’ to potatoes just because most varieties have a high GI. They are fat free (when you don’t fry them), nutrient rich and filling. But look for the lower GI varieties, keep portions moderate or serve them in a way to reduce their glycemic impact – such as potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Because we saw the evidence mounting that it is the potato variety itself that makes the real difference to its GI (not the cooking method) we sat down with chef and potato expert Graham Liney, Australian potato growers and the Dutch potato breeding company Agrico back very early in 2007, to bring Carisma, Australia’s first low GI potato to the table. It’s a versatile, general purpose potato that’s full of flavour with a creamy taste and ‘melt in the mouth’ texture and a GI of 55.The good news is that Carisma potatoes are now been grown all over Australia, and they are just going in to the ground in North America and Europe, so they will be commercially available in those regions in the near future. As for the other white veggies mentioned in the supplement, parsnips have a low GI (52), while veggies like cauliflower, turnips, onions and mushrooms contain so little carbohydrate (they are mostly water!) we can’t actually test their GI.
Scientific review of Robert Lustig’s Fat Chance.
‘Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease is the product of one individual’s point of view – a perspective that is not supported by the vast majority of scientific research on nutrition and metabolism, writes Prof Mark Kern, from San Diego State University. Kern highlights ‘the critical need for the increased communication of weight management strategies that are science-based and realistic. As we’ve witnessed in the past several decades, blaming one particular food or ingredient for the obesity and chronic disease rates in America is unsubstantiated; restriction and avoidance of particular foods (especially those that are most enjoyed by many consumers) is not a sustainable healthy eating strategy.’ You can download the review HERE.
What’s new on the bookshelf?
Share ‘Food builds our physical resilience, brings us joy, and strengthens our bonds with friends and family. It maintains our connection to the seasons, and generates employment, wealth, and economic stability. What we choose to eat and how we choose to prepare it reflect our ancestral traditions and cultural heritage as well as our abundant creativity’ writes Meryl Streep in this uplifting, charity cookbook. There’s a wide range of wholefood and traditional recipes to try (many low GI) including Beans with cassava and Stuffed bitter gourds (melons) from Rwanda.
Edited by Alison Oakervee and with a foreword by Meryl Streep, Share is published by Kyle Books (RRP AUD$39.95). Royalties will support WfWI’s farming and food training initiatives in the countries in which WfWI operates – Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, DR Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan.