We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!White potatoes don't make you fat, carrots aren't made of sugar — and other myths about the produce you grew up on, dispelled
By Karen Ansel, RD
If the low-carb diet craze of the early 2000s left you believing that potatoes equal pounds and corn is no better than candy, it's time to wake up and taste the produce. Truth is, even vegetables you may think of as nutritional duds are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, not to mention varied colors, flavors, and textures. If you've been avoiding these "produce outcasts," your diet — and health — are missing out. Here, we debunk the biggest myths about a few unfairly maligned vegetables — and provide easy and healthful ways to eat more of them.
White Potatoes Make You Fat
One medium baked potato has only 161 calories, plus 4 g of filling fiber
Added bonus: Chilled, cooked potato is packed with resistant starch, a fibrous substance that could help you lose weight. (For more information on resistant starch, visit prevention.com/resistantstarch.) "If you keep portion sizes in check — no more than one medium potato in a given meal — and eat the fiber-rich skin, potatoes make a satisfying, low-cal, nutrient-rich side dish," says Michelle Dudash, RD, a Gilbert, AZ-based nutritionist. They also:
When scientists from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service tested more than 100 potato varieties, they discovered 60 different vitamins and phytochemicals. For starters, they found flavonoids (which are credited with improving heart health and protecting against lung and prostate cancers) including quercetin, which may boost immunity.
Help maintain healthy blood pressure
Potatoes are loaded with kukoa-mines, plant chemicals that help lower blood pressure, found the USDA researchers. In addition, one medium baked potato (including the skin) provides 20 percent of your daily potassium, a known hyper-tension fighter.
Try this: To make a fat-burning potato salad, boil new potatoes in water until cooked through. Cut into one 2-inch slices and then quarter. Toss with olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and chopped fresh parsley, and chill. Or for a hearty meal, skip the sour cream, butter, and cheese, and top a baked russet potato with vegetarian chili.
Learn why you should be eating carrot and celery after the break.
Carrots Are Loaded With Sugar
One cup of chopped raw carrots contains just 52 calories and a mere 12 g of carbohydrates
Only half of the carbs are from natural sugar (the rest are from heart-healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates). That's fewer than you'd get in a cup of milk or a medium-size piece of fruit. Plus, the sugar in carrots comes packaged with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, unlike the excessive empty calories you'd get from foods with added sugar, such as a candy bar or cookies. They also:
Benefit blood sugar
Fiber and beta-carotene, which are both linked to improved blood sugar control, are abundant in carrots. Improve your eyes A half-cup has more than four times the amount of vision-boosting vitamin A that you need in one day.
Promote colon health
Carrots are packed with falcarinol, a phytochemical that may help protect you against colon cancer.
Try this: Toss grated carrots into marinara sauce and simmer for added depth and a meaty texture (minus the fat found in beef), shred into tuna salad, or roast slices and add them to pizzas or sandwiches.
Celery Is Just Water
Before the 1500s, celery was used as a medicine to treat a laundry list of ailments
Its devotees were on to something — the crunchy veggie has a unique combination of disease-preventing vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. It also:
Keeps your blood pressure down
Celery contains pthalides, rare compounds that lower your blood pressure by relaxing artery walls.
Lowers cancer risk
This veggie packs a dose of apigenin, a potent phytochemical that protects against cancer by inhibiting gene mutations.
Helps you stay slim
Celery sticks can satisfy an urge to munch with virtually no calories — one large rib has just 10 calories and one g of filling fiber.
Try this: Make a mirepoix — a flavorful base for soups, stews, and sauces often used in French cooking. Combine equal amounts of finely chopped celery, onions, and carrots. Sauté in olive oil until just softened, and proceed with your recipe.
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