As mentioned in my previous post, My experience with carb refeeds, I believe that starchy vegetables can be included in a ketogenic diet from time to time. Sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and pumpkin are a few highly nutritious starches that pack in a whole range of health benefits whilst delivering that taste and feeling of comfort food.
Why should I include them in my diet?
Beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, is responsible for the vibrant colours of sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and other starchy vegetables. As well as making for a great-looking dish, these starches are an excellent source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, immune-boosting properties1 (Healing Foods, 2013) and anti-inflammatory compounds2 (www.whfoods.com). They also improve eye health3 (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) and contribute to healthy skin by supporting skin structures, such as collagen, and consequently reduce the formation of wrinkles4.
A few more orange vegetables or an expensive, chemically loaded, celebrity-endorsed anti-wrinkle cream? I know which I will be relying on as my skin begins its natural aging process.
There are two basic forms of Vitamin A: retinoids found in animal products, and carotenoids found in plant sources; both are essential for good health. In certain circumstances, some carotenoids can be converted to retinoids in the body but the efficiency of this conversion depends on numerous factors such as a person’s genetics and their digestive health5. It is important to note that many nutrients contained in starchy vegetables are fat-soluble6. By eating a sweet potato with a stick of grass fed butter/ghee you can ensure that, not only will your body be primed for optimal absorption, but you will be benefitting from both forms of Vitamin A more efficiently.
How can I get them in my diet?
Following a cyclic ketogenic diet, I limit consumption of starchy vegetables to suppertime, once or twice every ten days. As mentioned, I pair them with a source of fat, MCT oil, ghee or coconut oil, not just for the nutritional benefits but because it tastes amazing! Sweet potato chips baked in butter with some thyme, butternut squash mash with the caramelised flavour of ghee, or carrot and coriander soup with the sweet taste of coconut oil. These highly beneficial foods have replaced the nutritionally devoid pasta, chocolate and bread I used to turn to as “comfort food” and, in my opinion, taste far superior.