Heart Health Matters

Today, for tomorrow

The other side of starches

side dishes

Lifestyle diseases, like obesity, heart disease and diabetes are on the rise in South Africa at an alarming rate and one of the biggest culprits is the foods that we eat. Following a healthier lifestyle is therefore something we should all focus on. Even if you are not overweight or diagnosed with a lifestyle related disease, prevention is always better than cure. And teaching our children good eating habits remains important.

As South Africans, we love and are very proud of our rainbow cuisine, but unfortunately this same cuisine includes a huge amount of starches as some of our favourite dishes and staples. Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and mealie pap for example, are also referred to as white starches. In moderate portions, there’s nothing wrong with it, but we should make sure that our meals remain balanced. How do we do that? By not having more than one of those on our plate at a meal and making sure that the rest of the plate includes other veggies, fruit or salad and a healthy protein.

The so-called white starches are often more refined or mainly consist of carbohydrates and could be low in other important nutrients. Having too many carbohydrates in a meal could result in eating far more energy in one sitting, than what one burns in a day. This could be a leading cause of becoming overweight.

What is the alternative? Make sure that no more than one quarter of your plate consists of a starch and choose a healthier starch option. Replace white rice with brown rice and choose whole wheat instead of white bread. Oven-roast sweet potatoes as a delicious alternative to potatoes and enjoy potatoes in the skin, to include more fibre. Opt for other veggies as the side dish, like roasted butternut, mushrooms, tomatoes and baby marrows or enjoy steamed veggies with a meal, instead of another potato.

We have all been to a typical South African braai with a table laden with delicious food and the side dishes comprising of potato salad, pasta salad, pap and braaibroodjies or another form of bread. Starch, starch and more starch, so next time you are the host or get invited, offer to bring a large green salad or platter of veggies to make sure the plate you dish up, is well-balanced and nutritious.

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