Sweet Potatoes: Many Health Benefits for You!
Sweet potato is a form of root vegetable and is cultivated throughout the year. It is used in various recipes and is considered an integral part of many soups because of its rich sweet taste. Like regular potato, sweet potato is a starchy vegetable rich in dietary fiber and sugar, however, not all of the carbohydrates in it come from sugar, which makes sweet potato a very beneficial food option from the health perspective.
There are various health benefits which can be derived from the consumption of sweet potatoes or by making this vegetable a part of different recipes. Below are few of such benefits along with healthy ways of eating it.
Rich in Beta Carotene
Beta carotene is a form of pro-vitamin A carotenoid. Sweet potato is rich in vitamin A and beta carotene. About 100 grams of sweet potato fulfills 120% of daily recommended allowance of vitamin A and 8000 micro grams of beta carotene.
Vitamin A is beneficial for supporting the immune system and protects the body from severe inflammation. Immune system strength is particularly required during those seasons during which catching a flu virus or a cold becomes almost inevitable. If you have unfortunately fallen ill, consuming sweet potatoes in the form of a soup is very beneficial for protecting the body from the severity of the cold.
Beta carotene in sweet potatoes is good for maintaining healthy skin, hair and eye vision. Sweet potatoes which have dark orange edges on the outer layer of the skin skin are richer in beta carotene as compared to lighter edged ones. According to one study carried out in Uganda, families who consumed beta carotene-rich sweet potatoes suffered less from vitamin A deficiency compared to families who did not consume sweet potatoes at all.
Rich in Vitamin C
About 100 grams of sweet potatoes fulfills 25% of recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. This vitamin in sweet potatoes makes it a vegetable that is rich in antioxidants. Eating them every day can protect your body from chronic diseases by strengthening its natural defense mechanism.
In the absence of required antioxidants, your body may suffer from a condition known as oxidative stress, under which accumulation of free radicals may lead to chronic diseases such as damage to the heart and the condition of high blood pressure.
By consuming more sweet potatoes, antioxidants in the body can increase by 25% because of the vitamin C in them. To get maximum benefits of the vitamin C content present in sweet potatoes, you should consume them in baked or roasted forms.
Sweet potato flour is also available in the market which contains sweet potatoes in dried form. Sweet potato leaves are also rich in antioxidants. These leaves are edible and can be consumed like spinach leaves or turnip leaves.
Even mild inflammations in the body can form the bases for serious chronic diseases if and when left untreated. Sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties because of the rich vitamin A and beta carotene content present within it. Sweet potatoes can reduce inflammation at the cellular level and protect the body from heart diseases, diabetes type 2 and even cancer.
According to one study, an experiment conducted on mice, which entailed consumption of sweet potato extract, resulted in a significant reduction of the inflammation surrounding brain cells and also the nerve tissue. The best way to gain maximum benefit of sweet potato’s anti-inflammatory properties is to consume it in the form of soups and stews. This will keep its nutritional content unharmed.
Keeps blood sugar level low
Sweet potatoes are rich in starch but the actual sugar content found in sweet potatoes is very low. About 100 grams of sweet potatoes contain 21 grams of carbohydrates out of which only 7 grams is sugar. This is because the energy in sweet potatoes comes in the form of complex carbohydrates which is not digested instantly by body. Instead, sugar enters the blood in a gradual manner, protecting it from a sudden increase of sugar.
Thus, sweet potatoes are excellent for people suffering from diabetes type 2. Dietary fiber in sweet potatoes maintains metabolic health and insulin levels. About 100 grams of sweet potatoes contain 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Because of its high dietary fiber content, this vegetable is a low source of energy and best suited for people who want to lose weight. There are only 90 calories in 100 grams of sweet potatoes.
To take maximum benefit from this vegetable, people suffering from diabetes type 2 or obesity should consume sweet potatoes in boiled form after peeling off its skin. By boiling sweet potatoes, starch content is drained out in water and only complex carbohydrates remain which is healthy for consumption.
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