Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This Spud is for You

Currently, potatoes rank as the number one vegetable consumed in America. Usually we enjoy them deep fried or loaded for a heart attack. Most health enthusiastic dismisses the potato as a fattening carbohydrate source or bans it from diets because it is stereotyped as a white no, no.

Remove the deadly toppings and deep frying and a potato is a low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, which exhibit activity against free radicals. Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, and manganese all vital nutrients for the endurance athlete.

The power of Vitamin B6- A cup of baked potato contains 21.0% of the daily value of vitamin B6 which is involved I more than 100 enzymatic reactions.  Enzymes are proteins that help chemical reactions take place, so vitamin B6 is active virtually everywhere in the body. Many of the building blocks of protein, amino acids, require B6 for their synthesis.  Runners rely on this resynthesize for proper recovery.
Vitamin B6 is also necessary for the breakdown of glycogen, the form in which sugar is stored in our muscle cells and liver, so this vitamin is a key player in athletic performance and endurance.

Perfect Potato
It is better to buy potatoes individually from a display versus a plastic bag. This allow you to inspect for signs of decay or damage, also the plastic bags are not perforated and cause a buildup of moisture that can negatively affect the potatoes.  Potatoes should be firm, well-shaped and relatively smooth, and should not be sprouting or have green coloration.
Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Store in a paper bag for best results and potatoes do not freeze well.

Enjoy the Potato
·         Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious mashed potatoes.
·         Toss steamed diced potato with olive oil and fresh herbs of choice pair with any lean meat.
·         Bake homemade French fries at 450 for 30-45 minutes.
·         A baked potato with spray butter and light sour cream or Greek Yogurt can complement any lean meat after an intense workout to replenish glycogen stores.

 Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and certified sports specialist in dietetics and founder of Runner’s FUEL. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @RunnersFuel. For more information visit or email at a  Text runnersfuel to 601.863.8370 for FUEL Tips!