The Amazing Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Despite its name, the sweet potato really doesn't belong to the same family as the potato, not even close. Potatoes are tubers, sweet potatoes are roots.
In some places, the darker colored sweet potatoes have been mistakenly called yams. (Yams are often whitish to purplish color, depending on the variety. They have a distinct earthy taste, hardy texture and are hardly sweet.)
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes with flesh ranging from white, yellow, orange and purple. Even the shapes and sizes range from being short and blocky to long and thin.
Sweet potatoes, especially the deeper-colored ones, are extremely rich in carotenes (precursor of vitamin A). They are also an excellent source of vitamins C, B2, B6, E and biotin (B7).
In the minerals department, they provide good amounts of manganese, folate (folic acid), copper and iron. It also has pantothenic acid and is rich in dietary fiber.
Sweet potatoes are excellent sources of plant proteins with very low calories. Unlike other starchy root vegetables, it is very low in sugar, and in fact is a good blood sugar regulator.
Further antioxidant properties are produced by storage enzymes found in sweet potatoes. When damaged, the potato releases sporamins to help heal itself, an antioxidant capability our gastrointestinal tracts may also take advantage of.
Sweet potato has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, and manganese it contains. They are just as effective in curing both internal and external inflammations. Lowered inflammation has been shown in brain tissue and nerve tissue throughout the body following the consumption of sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, which has been found to help in the prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found that those who ate foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin were 50% less likely to develop inflammatory arthritis than those who ate very of those foods. Just one serving per day of foods containing beta-cryptoxanthin, such as sweet potatoes, provided significant benefit.
In addition, the vitamin C in sweet potatoes helps maintain collagen and reduces the risk of developing certain forms of arthritis.
The carotenoids in sweet potato can help your body respond to insulin and stabilize your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes also have a significant amount of Vitamin B6, helping resistance to diabetic heart disease. Their high content of soluble fiber aids in lowering both blood sugar and cholesterol, and their abundance of chlorogenic acid may help decrease insulin resistance.
Sweet potatoes provide over 90% of the body’s vitamin A needs. Researchers have found that smokers should eat foods high in vitamin A, as emphysema and many other lung diseases may be brought on by a deficiency of vitamin A associated with smoking.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, helping to promote a healthy digestive system. Research has found that they may also help to cleanse heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury from the digestive tract.
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