The Healthy Sweetness in Potatoes

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sweet potato

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions. Many studies have suggested that consumption of plant foods like sweet potatoes decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as promotes a healthy complexion.

Sweet potatoes are considered low on the glycemic index scale, and recent research suggests they may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes. The fibre in sweet potatoes makes a big difference too. Studies have shown that Type 1 diabetics who consume high-fibre diets have lower blood glucose levels and Type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels.

Because of its high fibre content, sweet potatoes help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract. For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources appears to promote fertility, according to the Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications. The Vitamin A in sweet potatoes consumed as beta-carotene, is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.

Plant foods like sweet potatoes that are high in both Vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients. Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in sweet potatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation. In a study published by the Journal of Medicinal Food, purple sweet potato extract was found to have positive anti-inflammatory and anti-lipogenic effects.

Also of note, the antioxidant vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage. They are high in Vitamin B6, which helps to reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.

Sweet potatoes contain iron. Most people are aware that they need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in the body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolising of protein, among other things.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, which is a relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function. They are a source of potassium, one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.

Sweet potato, apart from its sweetness, has some nutrients and health benefits. One medium sweet potato will provide well over 100 per cent of daily needs for Vitamin A, as well as 37 per cent of Vitamin C. It will also provide 16 per cent of Vitamin B6, 10 per cent of pantothenic acid, 15 per cent of potassium and 28 per cent of manganese. It also has small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin and folate. The colour of sweet potato skin can vary from white to yellow, purple or brown. A sweet potatoes’ skin contribute significant amounts of fibre, potassium and quercetin.

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