Properties and Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Properties and Benefits of Sweet Potatoes: Native to the American continent, sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are highly nutritious vegetables with many incredible properties and health benefits. Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colours, their flesh ranging from white to beige, yellow, orange and brown red. The darker the colour of the flesh, the moister and sweeter the potato.

Interesting enough, the root is not the only edible part of sweet potatoes: in many African countries, the leaves are an important part of people’s diet as well. Overall, sweet potatoes are not only healthier than regular potatoes, but they are also more delicious than many other vegetables, which significantly increases their popularity among people of all ages.

Sweet potato benefits

Sweet potatoes are very distant ‘relatives’ of the common potato. They boast a moderate nutritional value that surpasses slightly that of regular potatoes.Their incredibly diverse natural pigmentation is indicative of their rich carotenoid content, potent natural pigments which, among other things, promote our body’s positive response to insulin. Also, carotenoids have incredible antioxidant properties which means they are excellent scavengers of free radicals.

Studies conducted throughout the years have shown that a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids significantly reduces the risks of developing serious life-threatening diseases. Remember: people (and animals) cannot synthesize carotenoids, thus it is imperative that we adapt our diet so to include nutritious foods such as sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes

Interesting fact: the overwhelmingly vivid colours of flamingos, lobsters and salmons are caused by a carotenoid concentration. Similarly, certain foods such as carrots or sweet potatoes have such intense colouring because of their carotenoid content. Nature says if it’s bright, put it in your mouth! (And I am only referring to natural foods.)

Sweet potatoes are especially rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. A little over 100 g of sweet potatoes is enough to meet our daily allowance of the nutrient. Why is vitamin A so important? Well, apart from maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes, vitamin A, and beta-carotene, are pivotal for good vision. Also, because of their excellent antioxidant properties, both nutrients protect our eyes from free radical damage produced by blue light. In time, this can lead to a serious condition called macular degeneration (loss of central vision). So remember, sweet potatoes are good for your eyesight too.

Nutritional Facts Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, an incredibly potent water-soluble, antioxidant vitamin. Besides being an efficient natural anti-inflammatory, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, the main structural protein in our body that ensures the integrity of our skin, internal organs, bones and blood vessels. Moreover, it helps the body develop resistance against viral infections by increasing the aggressiveness of white blood cells. Interesting fact: it is a common practice for doctors and nurses to get injections of 1 g (1000 mg) of vitamin C when they feel a cold lurking by. Their body reacts in no time and they don’t even let out a sneeze.

As an antioxidant, vitamin C efficiently neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals. Have you ever wondered how some people seem to go through time unchanged? Their secret is this fountain of youth called vitamin C, which can be found in generous amounts in many fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, lemons, oranges, kiwi and sweet potatoes.

A recent study conducted on 2,000 individuals found that a diet rich in both beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which can be found in sweet potatoes, significantly reduced their risks of developing prostate cancer. Another study conducted at Harvard Medical School showed that women who consumed foods rich in beta-carotene had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Eating sweet potatoes does seem like a smart move.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, an electrolyte known for its amazing cardiovascular benefits. When the temperatures sky rocket, potassium seems to ooze out of our flesh so it is extremely important to constantly replace what we lose. If you don’t feel like eating another banana (also rich in potassium), try a baked sweet potato and I guarantee you will no longer feel like your are about to faint and fall on the ground.

Of course, sweet potatoes have other important nutrients such as B-group vitamins, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Additionally, they contain great amounts of dietary fiber, an excellent natural remedy for constipation, known to also promote colon health. Dietary fiber can efficiently reduce the bad (LDL) cholesterol in our blood which leads to a healthy heart and healthy arteries.

Last but not least, sweet potatoes are starchy vegetables which means they contain a carbohydrate called starch. Vegetable starch is actually a quality carbohydrate, making sweet potatoes a great addition to a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet. Whether you like them baked, boiled, turned into soup, salad, as a side or main dish, they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.




2 thoughts on “Properties and Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

    • Beta-carotene, in the right amounts, may help tint the skin and give it a certain glow because beta-carotene is a natural orange pigment. Overall, our skin needs more than one vitamin to be and look healthy. Vitamin A, vitamin E, essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 from oils (olive oil, perilla seed oil), fish and nuts, vitamin C, zinc are some of the most important nutrients for beautiful skin. Healthy oils make our skin look plump, help keep it hydrated, moist, vitamin C promotes skin repair, scar tissue healing, delays wrinkles, makes spots and acne signs fade away, zinc helps with acne and other skin problems involving immunity issues, vitamin A keeps it overall healthy and has antioxidant properties, while vitamin E acts as an emollient and antioxidant, further contributing to its healthy, youthful-looking appearance and soft feel. It’s never one vitamin, but rather several nutrients that work together to accomplish this one result: giving our skin a healthy appearance. But keep in mind that nutrients are somewhat multi-use because they all contribute to some extent to skin health. As for sweet potatoes, they contain large amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene and contribute to this effect.

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