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Plant Roots The Good, Bad and not so Ugly Carb

June 6, 2017

By Joan McDaniel          June 6, 2017

Plant Roots and Carbs

What is a Good Carb, a Bad Carb and not so Ugly Carb?  It centers on one word —- Fiber.  It is all about fiber.  All carbs are sugar but good carbs have something else like nutrition and fiber.  Bad carbs have been processed carbs and all that remains is mostly sugar. Good Carbs are called Complex for they are still in the whole plant.  Bad Carbs are  also called simplex and a Good Carb is called a Complex Carb. A bad carb comes in a pretty package with a complex label and a good carb has only the dirt removed. I am talking of the root of the plant not about grains.  Grains are another subject.

Good Carb Bad Carb

Don’t Be Afraid of The Carb.

Many people are now paying attention to what they eat.  As many people will know, this blog is dedicated to how I got well from being very sick.

Many people are afraid of the Carb but don’t be.  Just know the difference between a Good Carb and A bad.  Your body needs the sugar but it needs the fiber to properly digest the sugar.  Your body can’t digest if it doesn’t get fiber.

Did you know you can reduce the carbs and sugar in a food?  To calculate total carbs in a food you subtract all the insoluble fiber from the total carbs and sugar.  Fiber helps the body become less insulin resistant.  The only difficulty is many people’s digestion is so weak they can’t handle a great deal of fiber.  They need to slowly improve their digestion.

So What is the Not So Ugly Carb?

Roots aren’t very pretty so I guess you can call them ugly. But after considering their health benefits they are not so ugly after all.

Roots are high in insoluble fiber and low on sugar, and a good source of high-antioxidant foods. Roots are loaded with valuable anti-inflammatory polysaccharides, with a good source of Vitamins A and C.  They help the body become less insulin resistant. Roots have been a staple in many traditional diets all over the world for as many as 5,000 years ago.

The above Graphic talks about the common dandelion root but most roots provide the same if not more benefits.

A note: most roots contain starch which is counted as a carbs. If you eat only the starch without fiber it is converted to instant sugar. Many roots are used due to the high starch and low fiber content like Potatoes, Arrowroot, Yucca or tapioca.  These roots are very absorbent and help with digestion but you have to watch the sugar.

I Have Been Away But I’m Back

I have been missing from my blog for a while, but not from my continued research into how food helps health and how it can make me well.  I am now working on getting a better understanding of digestion.  We American’s eat soft food many of us can’t even digest food or fiber anymore.  We don’t digest food we digest sugar.   For our systems to digest (turn food to energy) we need Fiber.  Most sugar we consume is converted to fat by the body and stored.  We burn sugar not fat. I got started on this by first eating common roots.  Hopefully I’ll get my act together and in future articles discuss digestion and my returning to eating grains whole grains and seeds again but first let’s talk about the plant root.

I Got Well Eating Non-processed Food

I got well eating a Plant Based diet, which is the  same thing as saying I got well eating Good Carbs.  I increased my fiber intake, and my saturated fat using mostly Coconut OIl. I found that Fat, Salt and Cholesterol are good for you.  I had fun finding and eating Superfoods and those high in Plant based medicinal benefits.

Carbohydrates are all constructed out of sugar.  All vegetables have natural sugar. In the last post I said without plants we wouldn’t have a planet nor would we have Oxygen.  We owe our existence to the plant.

God gave us the plant

Plants know more about survival than we do.  Plants existed on this Planet way before any form of life.  Plants originated in the oceans, as the oceans receded the plant was exposed to the toxic environment.  The plants soon learned how to survive the harsh atmosphere.  Plants created what is called Photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis is the building block of life.  The oxygen produced contributed directly to the oxygenation of the Earth, which made the evolution of complex life possible.

Photosynthesis enables plants and algae to make their own food, but also provides animals and humans with food and oxygen.


Tradition Medicine used plant-based healing

All vegetables produce natural sugar as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Some vegetables have more sugar than others.

Good Carb Bad carb.  

I grew up on starches especially the potato.  Now that I’m better, I made the decision return carbs like the potato to my diet. I found to my surprise the potato wasn’t the same.  Over the years my digestive system had become weakened and my taste buds had been dulled.  I have re-awaken them both and the soft dreamy mashed potato I loved as a kid didn’t taste the same. It tasted mushy. Even a raw potato didn’t taste good.  I found the potato is devoid of fiber and nutrition.  Potatoes are sugar bombs they contain all carb and no fiber at all.  Potatoes are as bad as white process sugar.  Plus once cooked you couldn’t freeze them, they would turn to mush.

My Local Farmer

I talked to my local farmer about my dilemma and he suggested substituting another type of root one with flexibility, fiber and taste.  Roots like Celery root (Celeria), Rutabaga, a winter radish to name a few.

Now the potato isn’t a bad carb but it has more starch then nutrition.  Roots are a starch but some are really pack with additional nutrition plus fiber.

Now what could be better than the plants root?  They keep the plant alive and nourished why not us too?

We are familiar with many common roots the beet, carrot, onion, and of course the potato.

I Found A Whole New World of Food

Lets take another look at Carbs, Mother Nature’s photosynthesis, and Digestion.

We are a processed people we eat nothing put processed food and run a processed life.  We have almost forgotten about our nature.  Nature to us is the green grass of a park an occasional bird and maybe some dirt.  But the grass has been so fertilized and treated, it itself has become a prisoner and hardly represents nature anymore and the dirt is so devoid of minerals it is almost sterile.

Changing Priorities

Over almost four years since I started this blog, my health has improved so much.  I have come a long way.  I am completely amazed and extremely grateful at my progress.  As each day comes, I find myself more energized and excited with what is to come.  Life has become a wonderful gift and I look forward to its challenges. I have even made my COPD better.  I can breathe almost normal.  I never thought I’d be this healthy again.  That old rocking chair won’t get me.

That Old Rocking Chair won’t get me lyrics. A signature song by Lena Horne


Self Healing

As I have indicated, I used natural food to get well. I have explored many aspects of natural food.  One food I haven’t covered is the Root.

Over the centuries our diet has really changed tremendously. Our early ancestors relied on a diet high in beans, fruits, grains, seeds, and vegetables including the roots of vegetables.

Along with Winter Squash, Roots are another food to eat over the winter  To our American Indian eating roots were quite common.  I began to discover vegetable roots to find a whole new world of taste and nourishment.

What is a Root?

Roots grow underground. You have to dig and forage for them.  Roots are part of the Earth they are what makes Earth come alive.  Roots anchor a plant to the soil.  Without roots a plant would not grow.  Roots search for and draw out nutrients and water for the healthy growth of the plants.

In case you need to know there are Roots and Rhizomes.  A Rhizome isn’t a root but grow underground like a root. Ginger and turmeric illustrate what are called rhizomes.

Roots are loaded with nutrition and provide basic therapeutic medicines.  Roots help the human body by returning balance, cleansing, and treatment of illness.  Roots help heal and prevent disease for animals, humans and plants. They are also loaded with wrinkle reducing collagen

Another Lost Tradition Eating Roots

We can learn a great deal from nature. Nature provides us many treasures. We have lost this healing tradition and the importance of touching the Earth. Our ancestors knew the value of the Earth we seem to think everything is a computer of a machine.  I think we need to look back and see what we have forgotten.

Many Types of Roots

I am not a scientist but found in my research what I call a root has many names. There are Bulbs, Rhizomes, Roots, Stems, Tubes to name some.

Everything that grows from a mighty tree to a tiny spout has a root.  Everything that grows in the ground has a complex systems of roots.  I have heard from old wife’s tales that all roots are connected to each other.

Is it a Stem or a Root?

The site uses images to explain objects.

The site uses images to explain objects.

To keep it simple the rest of the article will simply refer to roots meaning anything that grows below the ground or grows in the dirt.


Most if not all roots do not need to be cooked.  The only reason for cooking is to soften because they are too hard to chew.  I normally peel the root cut it up and mix it up in my meal.  They add crunch and bite to the dish.

Types of Roots

There serval  kinds roots, I have covered only some of North America’s most popular ones, or at least the ones I can find being sold in stores and Farmers Markets.  Many countries have a wide variety of roots as part of their tradition.  Many are grown locally and are unknown to us.

Root Vegetables

I have written articles on many of these food click link to see article.

Arrow Root, Carrot, Celery, dandelion, garlic, ginger root, ginseng, horseradish (wasabi), jerusalem artichoke, licorice, lotus, onion, parsley, parsnip, potato, radish, rutabaga, shallot, sweet potato, turnip, turmeric, water chestnut, and yam


Jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke

Beet See Previous Article

Carrot See Previous Article

cassava or tapioca

Celery (Celeria)


garlic See Previous Article


Ginkgo Biloga





Leek – See Onion It is a mild tasting onion.


Onion See Previous Article




Radish Summer

Radish Winter Chinese, Korean, Daiken, Japanese, etc.



Sweet Potato See Yam

tapioca from cassava

Turmeric See Previous Article


Wasabi (Japanese HorseRadish)

Water Chestnut

Yam See Previous article

Yuca or Yucca see Tapioca

Types of Root Vegetables

 Arrowroot – We think of Arrowroot as an alternative to cornstarch which is use to thicken liquids like gravy and puddings.  For 7,000 years Arrowroot has also been used for wound healing and insect bites for it draws out the poison at the site of the injury. It was at one time even used to make paper.  Arrowroot is a starch which has been made into powder form from the rhizomes (rootstock) of the Arrowroot plant, Maranta arundinacea. There isn’t much taste or fiber to arrowroot for It is extremely bland, and not very nutritious.  Used for neutral diets and helps soothe stomachs.

Root Vegetables


Beets are another perfect example of good/bad carb.  The beet is, of course, the good carb.  Beets are extremely important for the digestion and liver function for they move bile.  The beet is famous for turning everything it touches red.  That is the first sign of food that is good for the digestion.  There are many other health benefits I eat beets daily.


The common carrot is a very popular veggie and can be eaten cooked, juiced or raw.  I was made famous by a rascally rabbit.  It is most famous for its Vitamins especially Vitamin

Celery Root – (eleriac) also called Turnip-rooted celery or knob celery for it has lots of knobs all over.  It can also go by the name of ugly duckling. It is a variety of celery cultivated for its edible roots and shoots.

It was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as selinon.  I have found you can cook it or eat it raw.  If the root is too hard to bite you’ll need to cook or steam it some. It provides a unique nutty celery taste and texture to the dish.  It seems to be the perfect replacement for a raw white potato. The trick is how peel and to cut it away from the root system. A soft vegetable brush will help.  It was completely covered in dirt and I don’t worry much if I can’t get all of it off.

Dandelion Root – Who thought you would find all this healthy stuff in a such a common place as your own back yard.  It is hard to categorize Dandelion as a health food, but its flowers are known to spark up salads and its roots are cooked, dried or both the flowers and roots made into a tea. It is a main herb used by herbalist to help with everything from fight serious disease , detoxing and digestion.  Dandelion is a diuretic, appetite stimulate and is even used to help fight cancer.

Garlic – is a perfect example of how necessary and powerful the root is at providing important nutrients to keep the human body from premature aging and illness.  Garlic may be the king of this power but don’t underestimate the healing power of the other roots.

Ginger isn’t as powerful as garlic or turmeric, but It should be include in any healthy diet.  It is one of the three roots loaded with medicinal properties. You should always have plenty of both garlic, ginger and turmeric on hand.  In all forms, the actual root, a powdered form, and cut up into pieces for tea.

Ginger has broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40 pharmacological actions. It is also anti-inflammatory, making it valuable for pain relief for joint pain, menstrual pain, headaches, and more.

Ginger shows promise for fighting cancer, diabetes, it lowers blood sugar, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, asthma, bacterial and fungal infections, and is one of the best natural remedies if you struggle with motion sickness or nausea (from pregnancy or chemotherapy, for example).  Ginger has a unique taste one has to like it to take it in raw form.

Ginkgo Biloga – also known as ginkgo or as the maidenhair tree.  Native to parts of Asia.  In China the tree has been used since ancient history as a traditional source of medicine as well as food.  It has been traditionally used to enhance cognitive function for people with or without dementia including Alzheimer’s. It has also been known as a treatment for dizziness, eye problems, headaches, hearing disorders, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears, vertigo, and other illness.  The whole tree its seeds and roots have been used. It has also been used to assist poor blood flow or circulation including leg pain. Gino leaf and root has been used to help with disorders related toLyme disease, chemotherapy, and depression.

Ginseng – There are three major types of ginseng: American, Chinese and Siberian. All of these are considered adaptogenic herbs due to their ability to help us adapt effectively to physical, emotional and environmental stressors. Ginseng root was so valuable to the Chinese for its medicinal qualities that it was prized beyond gold. Often times, the whole plant is consumed altogether, but the root is the most highly prized part of the plant, as it contains the richest source of adaptogenic molecules. The major active compounds in ginseng are ginsenosides.

Horseradish – It is also called wasabi, something the Japanese crave in the form of a green paste served on sushi or mixed with powder.  It isn’t really the exact same thing but close. Wasabi is hard to cultivate and grow so Horseradish is used as a bad substitute. Both have a strong, hot flavor that soon fades and leaves no burning aftertaste. Like all herbs, plants or roots from Nature that provide a hot seasoned taste they help us humans with detoxing, digestion, and secreting digestive enzymes. In other words they help you digest your food.  Besides it being good for digestion, It has been used for thousand of years for many other remedies such as antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, prevent hair loss, immune system booster, Pain relief, Sinus relief by thinning mucus. It is also loaded with Vitamin C

When mixed with vinegar it even is a treatment for dandruff.  Again with Horseradish it won’t win any beauty contest and it is a challenge to get all the dirt off but it is certainly worth it.  They don’t need to be cooked and are ready to eat.  I think it scares away the cold or flu and anything else that ails you.

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour. It is the root of is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America. Who knows how it got its name. Jerusalem has nothing to do with it and it isn’t any type of artichoke.  As a  root it is eaten as a tuber or root vegetable.  This root is also unusual from other roots for it isn’t starchy at all but sweet.  This root may look like a potato but it doesn’t have the starch.  It can be eaten raw or roasted and made into chips, french fries or mashed like mashed potatoes.  The native American Indian used this root as a food source and for barter or trade with other tribes

Jicama – I have had a lot of fun with this root over the winter. I really like how it tastes and stays crisp even when cooked.  It has crisp white solid flesh with the texture of a turnip and a taste like an apple or yam.  It is known as a  Mexican potato or Mexican yam.  But unlike yams with their edible peels, jicama skin is thick, tough, and considered an organic toxin called rotenone, as are the vines and leaves. Jicama doesn’t have to be cook to chew and can be eaten raw.  It is just a little difficult to peel for like a root it has many ridges and groves.

Lotus Flower

Lotus Root – The root may be ugly but its flower the water-lily is a beautiful art form.  The flower is the national flower of India and Vietnam.  The plant is native to Tropical Asia and Queensland Australia and is highly valued especially in the Far East. The plant is known as renkon in Japan and Lián ou in Chinese. The whole plant can be eaten but the root is grown in customized water gardens or ponds.  The Roots taste is hard to describe for it has a unique bitter, crunchy, delicate and sweet flavored.   I have tried this root raw and unless its young it needs to be cooked.  Even cooked It keeps its unique taste and is crunching.  It reminds you of a water-chestnut but crunchier.  What makes the Lotus famous is it wonderful and beautiful floating flowers.

Onion – See my article on the Red Onion

Root Parsley – Parsley is grown as a root vegetable or a leaf vegetable.  It is also called the Hamburg root parsley. It isn’t used very often in the United States or Britain, but is used in central and eastern European cuisine similar to parsley in soups and stews or eaten raw.  I may look similar to parsley but it taste is quite different.

Parsnip – Is a member of the same plant family as carrots, celery and parsley and have many of the same benefits.  They are loaded with dietary fiber, good for blood sugar control and great for energy.  These vegetables resemble white carrots with a sweet, nutty flavor.

Potato – America is addicted to the White Potato.  It is unheard of eating a hamburger without the infamous French Fry.  America’s fast food industry has made the Potato the most popular root or tuber in the United States.  It became famous in the 1955 when McDonalds first introduced their hamburger and fries. It became the wave of the future of the fast food industry. The Potato may be popular but is one of the most non nutrient vegetables.  The French Fries were cooked with a special oil including beef fat which gave McDonald’s French Fry its unique taste. As John F. Love wrote in his history, McDonald’s: Behind the Arches, that beef-fat flavor would become the standard, not only for McDonald’s but the rest of the growing fast-food industry.


Winter Radish

I bet you didn’t know there is a summer radish and then there are winter radishes.  The summer radish is the little red and white fast growing zesty tasting bulb.  We eat it raw and  It adds a crunchy, refreshing, sharp, and spicy taste to our summer salads.

There are a numerous varieties  of winter radishes which taste nothing like the summer one.  Radishes can be categorized into four main types according to the seasons they grow in and the variety of colors, lengths, shapes and sizes.  There are gray-black, gray-green, pink, red, white, and yellow. They grow in a variety shapes from elongated, oval, round and carrot like.

Daikon, Japanese or Korean refers to a wide variety of winter oilseed radishes from Asia. The Daikon radish commonly has elongated white roots, There is also a black radish called a Spanish radish. Black Spanish come both rounded and elongated.  It has a rough, black skin with hot-flavored white flesh.  I have found the Korean to big larger than the Asian.

Rutabaga – They are called Rutabagas in the United States, but to the rest of the world they are known as swedes or yellow turnip. They are a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. They are larger and with a sweet nutty taste than the turnip. Again the whole plant can be eaten roots and tops and are used for winter feed for animals in the field

Rutabagas like most winter root vegetables are loaded with many vital nutrients and provide many health benefits plus they play a role in immune health. They can be baked, boiled, fried, mashed, grated and eaten raw, roasted, sautéed, and added to soups and stews.

Sweet Potato/Yam – The Sweet potato is the symbol of Fall since it is one of the main ingredients in the tradition American ThanksGiving Dinner.  But the sweet potato is so beneficial to health it can be eaten daily.  They are a good alternate to the white potato and loaded with flavor, fiber and vitamins and its is good for Blood Sugar also.

Tapioca – Also called cassava, manioc and yuca.  If you have seen tapioca pearls which is a purified starch extracted from cassava root and used to make tapioca pudding or as thickener like arrow-root.  You wouldn’t believe the root and the pearls are from the same plant. Yuca is a long black root covered with a waxy substance and hard as a rock it needs to be cooked down or ripened. I bought a Yuca and cooked it in a stew and was very surprised at it unusual taste.  I may have substituted it for potatoes but it didn’t taste anything like it.  It was quite good. This is one root like the Potato which hasn’t much fiber.


I have already covered Turmeric in the article Nothing Cowardly About the Yellow Spice Turmeric.  Turmeric is extremely valuable I use it to help with pain and many other daily uses.

Turnip – is a members of the cruciferous family of vegetables. They are nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich. Turnips as do other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage,kale, and many more) help fight cancer. They also help circulation and balance blood pressure and other circulation  The turnip is high in calcium.

Water chestnut

Water Chestnut

Water Chestnuts – Although water chestnuts are now grown in the United States they are used predominately in Chinese food cooking.  They require almost a tropical vegetation without any hint of a frost.  This food is an ancient Chines ritual food. We rarely see raw water chestnuts.  Most of we see in the market is the canned variety.  In many cases it is hard to identify with Chinese cooking without the unique taste of the chestnut.  In fact in nature they look like grey white chestnut.  As in many cases this is not a nut but a root vegetable that looks like a grey chestnut.

Yam – See Sweet Potato


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