When you look at a sweet potato, you may think its unassuming appearance would only make it seem unappetizing. However, its ordinary form is actually sweet and dessert-like. The best part of it is that sweet potatoes also pack a lot of essential nutrients that you may not be aware of.
Consuming just one spud can already provide more than 300 percent of your daily required vitamin A.
The origin of sweet potatoes
The sweet potato is a vegetable that belongs to the family of morning glory or bindweed plants. The tuberous roots, which are starchy and sweet tasting are known as the root vegetable.
The sweet potato is also considered distant relative to the potato because of its spud form. They are commonly grown in tropical areas like the native Americas. Other regions of the United States call the sweet potato as yams, even though it is botanically different from yams.
The color of sweet potatoes’ flesh varies from colors like red, white, beige, violet, pink, orange, and yellow. However, the most common sweet potatoes sold in markets are usually color purple and orange.
Sweet potatoes are good for the health
Sweet potatoes, like any root vegetable including potatoes, are known to be rich in vitamins and minerals. This includes vitamin C, calcium, and potassium and also have antioxidants to prevent the growth of cancer cells.
However, if there are more reasons you need why we should eat more sweet potatoes, below are the top seven health benefits:
- Sweet potatoes can help control diabetes and prevent insulin resistance
Despite their sweet, starchy taste, sweet potatoes are considered low in glycemic index. Studies have also reported its ability to reduce insulin resistance from occurring. This is especially beneficial for individuals who are suffering from diabetes. Moreover, eating sweet potatoes can also help people with low blood sugar levels.
It is said that the high fiber levels in sweet potato contribute to managing diabetes. Not only that, but sweet potatoes also contain high amounts of magnesium, which is also linked to lessening the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Sweet potatoes can help minimize the risk of many types of cancers
According to studies, the purple-fleshed sweet potato is said to have properties that can help prevent and protect against cancer. There are elements contained in sweet potatoes are able to restrain the growth of specific cancers like breast, colon, and breast. The element that is thought to be the reason behind anti-cancer ability is its high levels of anthocyanin.
Other studies also show that the vegetable content in sweet potatoes also help induce death of cancer cells to make sure it does not spread to other areas.
- Sweet potatoes can lessen the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases
When our body goes into a state of oxidation, it can lead to developing certain cardiovascular diseases. It is said that the leaf extracts taken from sweet potatoes contain high levels of polyphenols which can help to suppress oxidation in our body. This then minimizes the chance of developing heart or cardiovascular disease.
Other studies also show that anthocyanin contained in sweet potatoes with purple flesh can lessen the risks of coronary diseases.
Moreover, the dietary fibers that are soluble in sweet potatoes are also known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Sweet potatoes help support good digestion
This root vegetable is known to contain high amounts of fibers. Fibers have been known to help improve gut health which promotes proper digestion.
Not only is that, the fibers in sweet potatoes are essential in cleaning our digestive tract, which prevents constipation in both adults and children.
- Sweet potatoes can help improve our vision and eye health
Sweet potatoes are known to contain high amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essentially needed to promote the improvement of vision. Studies have reported that vitamin A helps form pigments for light absorption and preserve the correct structure of our retina. When we consume less vitamin A, we risk our eyes to poor vision, or worse, night blindness.
When we eat sweet potatoes, it helps boosts our levels of vitamin A and helps prevent other eye diseases including conjunctiva, eye dryness or corneal ulcerations. Furthermore, sweet potatoes also contain lots of vitamin C and E which also promotes good vision and prevents the formation of cataracts.
- Sweet potatoes can help manage weight issues
Because of the fiber content in sweet potatoes, it helps us feel sated or full longer when we include them in our diet. One soluble dietary fiber contained in sweet potatoes which is called pectin is excellent in suppressing cravings which promotes weight loss and increases hormones in the body.
The more sweet potatoes you eat, the less hungry you feel during the day and fewer chances of craving for unhealthy foods.
- Sweet potatoes help promote healthy fertility
It is reported in studies that high amounts of vitamin A can help enhance fertility, especially for women at their childbearing age. Vitamin A is said to help improve reproductive abilities which are also contained in sweet potatoes.
Not only that, sweet potatoes contain healthy amounts of iron. Iron is especially needed in women particularly when they are at their childbearing age. Iron deficiency is also common in women leading to anemia which can affect fertility. Consuming sweet potatoes can help reverse fertility and iron deficiency problems in women.
There are a lot more benefits that we can gain from eating this unassuming root vegetable. Not only are they appetizing, but sweet potatoes are also easy to obtain, can be stored easily and affordable. They can be added in many of our dishes but are usually best eaten as they are but steamed.
If you are a health enthusiast, start by including sweet potatoes in your diet and reap its many benefits to promote good health and wellbeing. In short, sweet potatoes are one of nature’s incredible ways to add to our diet and our lives.
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