Health Advantages of Sweet Potatoes

By Lora Keleher , last updated December 18, 2011

The health advantages of sweet potatoes significantly differ from traditional white potatoes, because the two aren’t actually related. Some of the many health benefits of sweet potatoes include disease-fighting properties, high nutritional content, and the ability to enhance the skin. It’s unusual for one food to provide so many benefits, and sweet potatoes have been dubbed “super foods,” because of the high levels of diverse nutrients they contain. They’re also low in fat and calories, as well as easy to incorporate into numerous recipes.

Disease Prevention

Eating sweet potatoes can’t guarantee you a long, disease-free life, but by incorporating this food source into a balanced diet, you can reap some of the benefits of disease prevention. Sweet potatoes can help prevent heart attacks, and give your immune system an overall boost. Vitamin B6 is responsible for reducing the presence of a chemical that can cause heart attacks and other diseases. The combination of vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and iron provide a strong boost to your immune system, helping you fight off colds, ward off toxins, and produce the necessary white and red blood cells. Other benefits of these vitamins include improved moods, reduced stress levels, the ability to heal flesh wounds more quickly, and improved digestive abilities.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Despite the starch they contain, sweet potatoes can actually regulate your blood sugar, preventing it from rapidly spiking, and then crashing, resulting in a loss of energy, and often hunger. Research indicates that sweet potatoes can assist even diabetics with regulating their blood sugar levels. Although the high fiber content of sweet potatoes, and their low glycemic index may be partial causes of these benefits, new research suggests that sweet potatoes can increase the level of a key regulatory hormone, known as adiponectin, in the body. This hormone helps the body metabolize insulin, and, in doing so, helps to control blood sugar levels. This can have a beneficial effect on overall energy levels and weight loss goals.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The bright yellow color of sweet potatoes indicates the presence of nutrients that can reduce inflammation in tissues throughout the body, including in the nerve and brain. Although this may not sound all that significant, inflammation is believed to be one of the factors contributing to chronic diseases, such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, as well as the overall breakdown of the immune system over time. Certain nutrients found in sweet potatoes are thought to partially inhibit chemical reactions in the body that cause inflammation. They’re also believed to reduce the amount of excess fibrinogen in the body. Fibrinogen is essential for blood clotting, but too much of it can lead to inflammation, and interfere with the nervous system’s ability to transmit signals.

Skin Benefits

People spend billions of dollars on skin care products every year, in search of benefits ranging from clear skin to anti-aging effects. Simply munching on sweet potatoes can’t solve all your skincare woes, but eating them can improve the clarity of your skin, help maintain elasticity, and help prevent wrinkles. Sweet potatoes are loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene, which your body transforms into Vitamin A. This key nutrient can influence cell turnover, and the continual introduction of new cells can keep your skin looking healthy, smooth, and youthful. These vegetables also contain vitamin C, which can help your body create collagen, and subsequently retain its elasticity. The antioxidants assist in destroying free radicals, which, over time, can cause wrinkles and other health problems.

Essential Nutrients

A single, medium-sized sweet potato contains over 400% of the recommended daily vitamin A allowance. It also contains 37% of the recommended amount of vitamin C, and 16% of the Vitamin B6 daily allowance. Sweet potatoes also contain fiber, potassium, manganese, and Vitamin B5, which are all important nutrients for your overall health and well-being. Additionally, these vegetables aren’t loaded with calories, carbohydrates, or fats, making them an excellent means of obtaining essential nutrients without compromising your diet. By eating sweet potatoes on regular basis, you can obtain the health benefits of consuming several vegetables, while savoring the sweet taste of this desert-like food.

Taste

Another benefit of sweet potatoes is that they’re tasty and easy to incorporate into recipes. You can mash them, bake them, turn them into sweet potato fries, or use them as a healthy substitute for white potatoes in almost any recipe. They can be sautéed, pureed, steamed, or blended with other ingredients to create flavorful and unusual dishes. You can also incorporate sweet potatoes into meat pies, desserts, dressings, marinades, and other types of dishes to add flavor and nutritional benefits.

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