Posts Tagged ‘Potassium’


Fall is the perfect season to remind everyone to consume more sweet potatoes. Like pumpkin, they are usually enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day and then promptly forgotten about until the following year. But this vegetable should be eaten as frequently as possible, because it’s a winner. If your only experience eating sweet potatoes has been the canned variety, you need to try fresh.  The flavor and texture is far superior to canned, and easy to prepare.


Sweet potatoes are actually edible roots. Technically, they aren’t even a potato.  Some people call them yams instead of sweet potato, but they’re not really yams, either.  This is one confused vegetable with an identity crisis.  But one thing you don’t need to be confused about is how good they are for you.

A half cup of sweet potato provides over 200% of your DRI of vitamin A for the day. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that provides the tools your body needs for the development and maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes. It also supports the immune system, reproduction, and oh yeah, vision. Want good eyesight?  Sweet potatoes are a better source of vitamin A than carrots.  They are also a good source of vitamin C, iron, thiamine, potassium (think about your blood pressure), vitamin E, and fiber.

Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, fried (like French fries) or steamed. Some restaurants offer a baked version as a side dish, usually with a brown sugar/butter spread. Those are incredibly good. But I also like to boil mine and make mashed sweet potatoes.

Are you a diabetic? Most diabetics steer clear of starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, but sweet potatoes contain compounds that can actually improve blood sugar regulation.  Depending on how you fix them, the glycemic index (GI) varies. The average GI value for a baked sweet potato is 94, but when boiled is only 46.

If you decide to mash, don’t try and peel the potatoes; they don’t peel as easily as white potatoes. Just cut the potatoes into chunks, cover with water and a lid, and bring to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until fork tender (about 40-45 minutes).

When the potatoes are tender, pour everything into a colander in the sink and let the steam and heat escape. Then nick the softened skin with a knife and just peel off.  Mash with a fork or potato masher and serve. For a little extra sweetness, try dribbling some maple syrup over the top. It will be like eating your vegetable and dessert at the same time!

Written by: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County











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sweet corna


One of summer’s greatest pleasures is enjoying a fresh ear of sweet corn at a backyard barbecue.   We eagerly await the corn harvest, and now it’s here!  Fresh sweet corn is available in most communities throughout the month of August.

Corn is a nutrient-rich vegetable.  One ear of corn is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and potassium.  Corn is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin; phyto-nutrients that are linked to a reduced risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.  Corn has about the same amount of calories as an apple, but with one-fourth less sugar.

To reap the full nutritional benefits of corn, cook no longer than 10 minutes in boiling water to minimize nutrient loss. While boiling is the primary way most of us prepare corn, grilling is a popular and tasty alternative. Other ways to enjoy this nutritious vegetable include mixing it into pasta dishes, corn bread, soups and/or salads.

For a different taste, try seasoning corn with lime juice instead of butter.  Or combine cooked corn kernels with chopped scallions, red pepper, hot pepper sauce and lime juice as a quick salsa for meat, poultry or fish.

So what are you waiting for?  In a few weeks corn season will be over. Make plans to visit your local farmer’s market to pick up some sweet corn this weekend!

Written by:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu
Resources:  Summer Corn – More Than Delicious, Web MD

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Are you getting enough potassium?  With emphasis on limiting sodium, potassium gets forgotten.   Yet, potassium can help in your effort to lower blood pressure.

In the U.S. one in three adults has high blood pressure and 56% do not have it under control.  So what does potassium have to do with it?  Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure.  Studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes have lower blood pressures.  High levels of potassium have also been associated with a reduced risk of bone loss, kidney stones and type 2 diabetes.  Low potassium levels are a predictor for stroke.    That’s why the new USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend you choose foods that provide more potassium.

Can’t potassium supplements work?  They can but they also can be hazardous, especially if you have kidney disease and don’t know it.   Having too much potassium in your blood can be life-threatening.    However, getting your potassium from foods usually does not cause any problems.  If you have a disorder that causes potassium retention, such as diabetes, kidney disease or heart failure, check with your doctor before increasing your potassium intake. 

Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products is the BEST way to increase your potassium.   Bananas may come to mind when you hear the word potassium.  Bananas are a good source and so are potatoes, oranges or orange juice, beans, yogurt, milk, tomato products, spinach, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and prunes.  Follow “Choose My Plate” (http://www.choosemyplate.gov ) and fill up half your plate with fruits and vegetables.   You will be getting the potassium you need as well as other nutrients and fiber.  With summer here, now is the time to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables and get your potassium, too.

References:  USDA, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010; Nutrition Action Healthletter, Getting Enough? September 2010.

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