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Eve Lees

Health Columnist for INSPIRED 55+ Lifestyle Magazine and the White Rock Sun

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November 03,2021

Don't hate potatoes


If potatoes are a vegetable and vegetables are supposed to be healthy, why are many sources saying potatoes aren't good for us?

Potatoes ARE good for us. They are a rich source of potassium as well as vitamin C and B vitamins. They are also a good source of fibre. And if you are physically active, they provide vital food energy.

However, because this vegetable offers a high amount of 'calories,' mainly as carbohydrate, we are wise to consider potatoes more a complex carb or a starchy carb choice, rather than a 'vegetable' choice. So, think of potatoes as an alternative to other starchy root vegetables or in place of rice and other whole grains. Keep your 'vegetable' choices as the lower-calorie and lower-carb veggies – choosing more often those that are brightly coloured (fruits and vegetables richer in colour usually offer more antioxidants like carotenoids).

Much of the potatoes' lousy reputation stems from the current belief that 'carbs' are bad for us. Non-refined or unchanged complex carbs offer lots of nutrients and provide a slowly released energy source, keeping our blood sugar levels stable. The highly changed or refined complex carbs that lack nutrients cause a blood sugar surge because they are so quickly absorbed. Therefore, whole, unchanged carbs aren't the problem. It's the refined carbs we need to minimize.

Some avoid potatoes because of their high glycemic index (a rating of how quickly a food is absorbed compared to table sugar). However, the glycemic index is much lower when potatoes are eaten with a full meal or with the skin left on. In any case, recent research finds the glycemic index rating of foods is inaccurate. In addition, we each absorb foods differently: potatoes – when eaten by themselves without other foods to buffer its glycemic effect – may raise blood sugar levels in some individuals but not in others.

Potatoes also have a bad rap simply because we tend to overeat them. Overeating any single food will risk limiting the wide variety of nutrients we need to be healthy – especially when you fill up on the higher calorie vegetables like potatoes. And face it, we are a "potato" eating population: Baked, fried, or boiled, potatoes are the most commonly served complex carbohydrate (or starchy root vegetable) on any restaurant menu.

Vary your choices if you think you eat too many potatoes. Enjoy other healthy complex carbohydrate choices: try sweet potato, jicama or turnip, cassava, taro, or the many varieties of winter squash. And there are also many varieties of potato: purple, yellow, russet, etc. Change them up often. Wash the skin well and eat that too for more fibre (and other nutrients we haven't identified yet). Bake, broil but avoid deep frying (oven roast your "fries" instead).

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.





October 06, 2021

Stair Stepping

Stepping on a single stair step is a convenient workout done anywhere, even at the office. It can be the “cardio” part of your regular workout for heart/lung benefits. Or do shorter sessions throughout the day (even at the office) to strengthen leg muscles and burn calories. For example, a 135 lb person can burn about 150 calories in 20 minutes of stair-stepping.

Begin with a seven-inch height or less. A higher platform quickly exhausts those who are unfit and may cause injury. Use a sturdy box or the bottom step of a staircase (the standard stair step height is about seven inches). Gradually increase the height as fitness improves, but never higher than a height that causes the knees to bend more than 90 degrees.

Use the proper technique to avoid injury: Place the entire foot on the step to distribute body weight evenly over the whole foot. When stepping off the platform, step down, not back (always land with toes close to the step’s base) — reaching too far back with the leading leg when stepping down results in sore calves. It also makes the body lean forward, putting more stress on the low back and ball of the foot.

Step up with your left foot and then up with the right. Next, step down with the left and follow with the right (change the leading foot periodically). Repeat this stepping pattern at a steady, controlled pace. A general recommendation is approximately 118 - 120 steps per minute. To make the workout harder (and still keep it safe), add more arm movement instead of increasing speed.

For quick calorie-burn breaks at home or at the office, step for several two-minute sessions throughout the day. But slip into supportive shoes first to absorb the repetitive shock on your feet, calves and knees: Cross-training or aerobic shoes offer adequate shock absorbency and stability due to the wider heel. And don’t forget to do a few leg stretches afterward.

If you have chronic pain under or around the kneecap, stepping may not be a suitable exercise for you.


Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.








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