Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
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Juliette's Kitchen

One Potato, Two Potato, 126 pounds of Potato! Choose Your Potatoes Wisely

by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

Buyer Beware

Recent media attention has been focused on the potato, namely the French fried potato, because McDonalds has announced that it will use lower fat oil to fry French fries. French fried potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the United States. A small box of French fries contains 12 grams of fat which is 25% of the recommended daily allowance. So just imagine how much fat those Super-Sized fries contain. Somehow I don't believe that a minor change in oil is going to make a great impact upon the face of America's obesity epidemic.

The potato is a staple food in the U.S. In fact the average American consumes a whopping 126 pounds of potato each year! Un-fried potatoes can be a healthy part of our diet provided it is not the only veggie we eat. The Recommended Daily Allowance is to eat five servings of vegetables per day. But only one of those servings should be potato. Most Americans only eat potatoes with a meal and skip other important veggies like leafy greens. Or they don't eat veggies at all.

Yes, even I fall prey to the French fry. I could even say that the French fry is my nemesis because everywhere I go, there they are. Hot, steaming, salted and ready to eat. But, I have learned to resist my regular urges to consume those warm, thinly sliced, shoestring potatoes, bathed in vegetable oil which is so cruel to my heart valves. I have learned to resist daily doses of the spicy "curly fry" and the even thicker and more delicious "steak fry."

In all truth I eat French fries a few times a month. Yet, the average American eats them a few times a week. According to Oriental medicine overeating fried foods contributes toward many health problems such as obesity, digestive disorders, even emotional disorders, respiratory and sinus problems. Potatoes have no usable dietary fiber. Part of the reason they lead to digestive disorders in that people who eat mostly potatoes usually lack dietary fiber found in whole grain breads, rice and pasta. You can keep the fat intake at zero if you eat a plain baked potato but the moment you add just 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine you add 24 grams of fat and 215 calories. Yipes!

Proper storage of potatoes is important or you may experience digestive problems and inflammation, diarrhea, even nausea. Avoid potatoes that are sprouted or green because they are poisonous.

Over-consumption of potatoes may also lead to a surplus of Vitamin D which could increase levels of calcium and phosphate in your blood. Increased levels of those minerals can direct calcium deposits to inappropriate places in your body like the soft tissue and into major organs such as the kidneys. Oh and one more thing, they could slowly transfer calcium from your bones and leave it in other areas of the body where it shouldn't be, like your arteries and joints.

The thing about French fries is that they are quick and easy to buy and prepare. I have a few recommendations for those of you who fall prey to regular potato cravings...

5 Tips for Avoiding Potato Mistakes

  1. Don't buy French Fries every time you go out to eat. It is simple yet requires determination of the mind over your palate.
  2. Also avoid denatured potatoes. Denatured potatoes are dehydrated potatoes. Like the boxes of scalloped potatoes and instant mashed potatoes you find in the grocery store. Over-processed and often bleached potatoes like these lack the qi/energetic qualities and nutritional value that fresh potatoes pack.
  3. Eating potatoes from the frozen food section is not such a good idea either. Frozen potatoes usually contain additives and contain high levels of sodium. If you have to eat frozen potatoes buy organic from the health food store because they rarely have high sodium content. But read the labels to be sure. Also, don't fry frozen potatoes, warm them in the oven at a high heat they will still come out crispy.
  4. Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat. Begin to incorporate whole grains and riceinto your daily diet.
  5. Try some of the lower fat recipes below.

And Now the Good News

According to "The Healing Cuisine of China" the nutritional value in a serving of baked or boiled potatoes are:

Protein, 2.3 grams
Fat, 0.1 grams
Fiber, none
Carbohydrates, 20.1 g (Potatoes rate 81 on the glycemic index which is high, so diabetics and people suffering from obesity, beware)
Vitamin A, 0 IU
Vitamin B1, 0.1 mg
Vitamin B2, 0.04 mg
Niacin, 1.7 mg
Vitamin C, 22mg
Calcium, 8 mg
Phosphorus, 52 mg
Iron 0.85 mg

Looking at the content of Calcium, Iron, and B vitamins it is no surprise that many women crave potatoes around the menstrual cycle. The body wants to support is self while it loses blood. Potatoes also neutralize stomach acidity.

Oriental Medicine Says...

From an Oriental perspective the potato is sweet and cool has the following medicinal qualities:

  • Supplements the Spleen and Qi
  • Harmonizes the Stomach
  • Nourishes Kidney Yin
  • Lubricates Intestines
  • Relieves ulcer pain
  • Reduces Inflammations:
    • Arthritis. prepare and eat
    • Eczema and other Damp skin conditions. Put raw grated potato on the skin with gauze. Change every 3 hours.
  • Burns. Apply fresh potato juice to burn. It will promote healing, cool and soothe the burn.

Avoid frying and milk and sour cream with your potatoes if you are using them to clear dampness conditions and relieve inflammation.

Questions? Need Help?

If you have any questions or would like an Oriental Dietary consultation, Contact me: Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac. 212-894-0767

Salute!

Recipes

Skillet Baked Scalloped Potatoes

These are quick and easy to make and often quell my fry craving

  • 3 Large Baking Potatoes sliced thin with a knife or slicer (my favorite potatoes are Yukon Gold)
  • Olive oil
  • Paprika to taste
  • Salt to Taste
  • Parsley to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil cast iron skillet (or baking pan or cookie sheet).
Arrange slices of potato in the skillet. Lightly drizzle more oil over potatoes.
Sprinkle on paprika, parsley and lightly salt the potatoes. (Or get creative and use the spices you like. Try curry powder for instance. Or rosemary.)
Place skillet into oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown then serve.

Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 5-7 Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 1 Cup of fresh refrigerated soy milk
  • ½-1 Cup of soy sour cream
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • Salt to taste

Peel and boil potatoes until soft. While they are boiling roast garlic in aluminium foil or a ceramic garlic roaster in a 400 degree preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes until brown and soft. When potatoes are completely cooked they should be soft and fall apart easlity when pierced with a fork, strain the water in a colander. Place in a potatoes in a large bowl. Mash with potato masher. Add ¼ cup soy milk. Blend with a hand held blender on medium-high speed and fold in peeled soft garlic and continue to add soy milk. Blend in a pinch of salt to taste. Blend in the soy sour cream. If you want smoother potatoes add more milk or sour cream. Serve and enjoy!

Also try these recipes:

End Notes

  1. Lui, Jilin. Chinese Dietary Therapy Churchill Livingstone, 1999
  2. Ni, Maoshing, Cathy McNease. The Tao of Nutrition Santa Monica SevenStar Communications, 1996
  3. Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods Berkley North Atlantic Books, 1993
  4. Zhao, Zhuo, George Ellis The Healing Cuisine of China Rochester Healing Arts Press, 1998
  5. Colbin, Annemarie. Food and Healing Ballentine Books, 1986
  6. USDA Web site


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