Total Nutrition Technology
Friday, August 14, 2015

Sweet Potatoes and White Beans: 

A Knock Out Combination for Intestinal Health

A (admittedly strange, but) common question I get when counseling is "how do I come up with non-animal-based "meat" exchanges that aren't packed full of sodium." It's important to know that some people simply don't care for animal meat (be it texture or animal rights), others are trying to limit their saturated fat intake and still others are looking to limit stress on their irritated bowels. Unfortunately, many of the substitutes, such as light cottage cheese, light string cheese, and soy-based substitutes are high in sodium.

Many people think that lowering sodium intake is only important for those who are at risk for hypertension, but because sodium is a crucial electrolyte designed to help the flow of water across all cell membranes, an imbalance (either too much or too little) will throw off any part of your system. Your intestines are no exception. Sometimes, we just cannot avoid the high sodium content of our society and we need some good potassium-rich foods to help bring us back in balance so that all this water we're told to drink can actually do its job! Bonus points if it contains low-saturated fat and an extra dose of protein!

Some potassium rich foods:

  • Winter squash, cubed, 1 cup, cooked: 896 mg
  • Sweet potato, medium, baked with skin: 694 mg
  • Potato, medium, baked with skin: 610 mg
  • White beans, canned, drained, half cup: 595 mg
  • Yogurt, fat-free, 1 cup: 579 mg
  • Halibut, 3 ounces, cooked: 490 mg
  • 100% orange juice, 8 ounces: 496 mg
  • Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup: 431 mg
  • Banana, 1 medium: 422 mg

Some alternative protein choices:

  • Seafood (monitor mercury)
  • White meat poultry (remove the skin)
  • Cow's milk (be cautious if you are lactose intolerant)
  • Cheese (be cautious if you are casein sensitive)
  • Yogurt (monitor added sugars)
  • Eggs, Egg Whites, or Dried Egg Whites
  • Beans
  • Pork Tenderloin (other cuts can be very high in fat and sodium)
  • Edamame or Soy (many soy-based foods can be highly processed)
  • Lean beef

So what's on both lists? Beans! It makes sense to combine high protein, low-sodium and potassium-rich ingredients to make a super-powered, mainly meat-free meal. It doesn't hurt that it has long been touted that sweet potatoes and beans are foods high in both soluble and insoluble fiber making them a killer combo for combating IBS (all three kinds!). Of course you can always use these sweet potato pucks to help you get started!

Our notes to really elevate these meals: 
  1. Choose no salt-added and rinse canned beans
  2. Choose low-sodium turkey sausage
  3. Choose low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  4. Rather than adding salt, add garlic, pepper, or chili powder

Here are some ideas (they are not necessarily vegetarian):

White Bean Soup with Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, and Turkey Sausage
Photo Credit: AlaskaFromScratch

Sweet Potato Quinoa Stew with White Beans and Spinach
Photo Credit: DishinguptheDirt

White Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers
Photo Credit: OneGreenPlanet

Savory Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with White Beans and Kale
Photo Credit: TheKitchn

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