Superfoods: Sweet Potato

Superfoods: Sweet Potato

A superfood is a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.

SWEET POTATO

The Center for Science in the public interest ranked the nutritional value of sweet potatoes highest among several other foods.

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables and come in a variety of colors.  The skins are yellow, orange, brown, purple, or beige. The flesh is beige, white, red, pink, violet, or yellow.  The white and yellow flesh are not as sweet and moist as the others.

Attributes that make them super

Nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes include:

  • rich in complex carbohydrates, iron, calcium, and fiber

  • probably the best source of beta-carotene ( dark orange flesh contains more beta-carotene than those with light flesh) The beta-carotene raises vitamin A blood levels.

  • Micronutrients are vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin A 

Health benefits

  • studies have shown a reduction of inflammation in the brain and nerve tissue after consumption of sweet potatoes (all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but purple sweet potatoes are especially rich in these)

  • the clotting ability helps the body close wounds

  • sweet potatoes lower the health risk of heavy metals and free radicals from mercury, cadmium, and arsenic

  • sweet potatoes create anti-oxidants that help balance free radicals 

  • they help regulate blood sugar. Although this sounds counterintuitive, the sugar in sweet potatoes is broken down slowly, so it does not cause spikes in blood sugar.

  • a medium sweet potato has 6.6 grams of fiber -- this also helps with blood sugar regulation and improved digestion

  • 1 cup of sweet potatoes has 375% of the Daily Value of beta-carotene needed

  • they boost the immune system

  • they relieve asthma and treat bronchitis

  • they help prevent and treat cancer 

Buying and using sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes and yams might look alike, but they belong to different families. So, if you are shopping for sweet potatoes, be sure you actually get sweet potatoes. When shopping for sweet potatoes, choose firm potatoes without cracks, bruises or soft spots. Don't buy them from a refrigerated section nor store in refrigeration as the refrigeration alters the taste. 

Sweet potatoes also come canned. Since they are so prevalent raw, I would suggest to always buy fresh sweet potatoes.

There are many ways to fix sweet potatoes. They can be roasted, baked, steamed, or boiled; and, they can be made into soup or pie, can be mashed or candied, and can be made into fries or chips. They can even be used by artists to dye clothing. I would recommend steaming or boiling them as studies have shown that these cooking methods increase the nutritional value.

Also, adding a little fat (3mg to 5mg) to a sweet potato increases the uptake of beta-carotene. So, here's one of the few times you'll see me say to add a little oil to anything.

Here's the approximate rundown on sweet potatoes for 1 cup of sweet potato, measured raw...

  • 114 calories
  • 7 grams carbohydrates
  • 6 sugars
  • 2 grams protein
  • 6.6 grams fiber
  • 0 fat

Summary

Sweet potatoes are super. Eat them frequently -- not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas. All potatoes are good for you, but sweet potatoes have that extra uumph for your health. You know that because they are so colorful.

 

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