Sweet potatoes are delicious and nutritious root vegetables. Sweet potatoes are soft and very creamy and are used mainly as a dessert ingredient. They are a great source of Vitamin A and naturally packed with riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B5, niacin and carotenoids.
Sweet potatoes, also known as Ipomoea batatas, are packed with a lot of nutrients and medical benefits. Scientists have discovered that sweet potatoes contain anti-diabetic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Most of the time they come in orange colour, but there are others that come in yellow, red, white, and purple. Below are some health benefits associated with sweet potatoe and why it should be included in your diet.
Sweet potatoe help prevent Vitamin A deficiency
Deficiency in vitamin A is a big problem, especially in developing countries around the world. The health consequences of a lack in vitamin A are severe and can cause reduced resistance to infectious disease, dry eyes, rise in infectious morbidity, and increased mortality rate.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A as they contain high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in our livers. Each molecule of beta-carotene produces two molecules of Vitamin A.
Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A helps the body fight against infections and resist any further diseases.
Sweet potatoes can also help manage diabetes
Sweet potatoes have been categorised as low to high on the glycemic index scale. Several studies indicated that sweet potatoes could help minimise instances of insulin resistance and low blood sugar levels, as well as high blood sugar in diabetic patients.
Their low glycemic index implies that sweet potatoes slowly release sugar into the bloodstream, unlike other starchy foods. This gradual release of sugar is what helps control sugar level and prevents it from going low or high. Thus, sweet potatoes can be used to regulate blood sugar level, especially in diabetic patients. This regulation helps both types I and type II diabetic patients.
The fibre present in sweet potato is also beneficial for health in managing diabetes. 10-15% of the fibre present in a sweet potato consists of soluble fibres such as pectin, which are useful in regulating blood sugar level and reducing food consumption.
About 77% of the fibres in sweet potatoes are insoluble, and they play a role in fighting diabetics. Insoluble fibres promote insulin sensitivity, which helps in regulating the blood sugar level.
Furthermore, sweet potatoes are a great source of magnesium, which help reduce the risk of individuals developing type II diabetes.
Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes contain magnesium and essential fibres that are key in the management and prevention of diabetes. They also have a moderately low glycemic index that helps in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
Sweet potatoes can help manage stress levels
Sweet potatoe contain a significant amount of magnesium, which is an essential nutrient that your body needs to function well. Some of the significant pros of magnesium are that it helps reduce anxiety and stress.
Scientific studies show that an increase in magnesium deficiency in diets today has spiked reported cases of depression worldwide. For example, more controlled studies show that deficiency in magnesium increases depression in women that experience premenstrual symptoms.
Depression and deficiency in magnesium are entwined because they both feature body-wide inflammation and cell-mediated immune responses. Studies on animal models show an increase in the intake of magnesium helps protect the body from depression or anxiety after a traumatic injury.
Furthermore, a study done on an animal model shows that a decrease in magnesium may increase depression.
Magnesium has also been found to reduce insomnia in older individuals. Insomnia triggers depression, anxiety, and stress which is unfortunate as a large number of older citizens suffer from one form of insomnia or the other.
Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes are a great source of magnesium, which when not sufficient, can be linked to anxiety, depression and stress.
Sweet potatoe also help replenish the body’s magnesium levels and help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Sweet potatoe contain anti-inflammatory activity
It contains a large number of vitamins, which have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Studies carried out on purple sweet potatoe have shown that extracts from the vegetable variant are capable of inhibiting the production of active inflammatory components in the body.
Also, sweet potatoe has a high choline concentration, which is a very functional nutrient. Choline is great for the body as it helps reduce inflammatory responses. Studies on animal models have shown the effectiveness of choline in therapeutically restraining incidences of systemic inflammation in the body.
Bottom Line: The presence of choline and anthocyanins in sweet potatoe make it an essential dietary source in reducing and preventing chronic inflammation in the body.
Sweet potatoes can help protect/prevent/manage cancer.
The purple-fleshed sweet potato has also been shown to be effective in fighting cancer cells.
This variation of the sweet potato contains elements that inhibit the growth of specific cancers that include gastric cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer by inducing the cell death of these cancer cells.
The vegetable which has high anthocyanin content is believed to be the reason behind the sweet potato’s anticancer activity when it comes to breast and gastric cancers.
Scientists have concluded that the anticancer activity present in sweet potatoes is rich in polyphenol, which helps control prostate cancer.
Beta-carotene is also useful in reducing and preventing the risks of developing colorectal cancer.
Bottom line: Sweet potatoe contain carotenoid and beta-carotene, which are essential in preventing prostate cancer.