Health & Lifestyle

Sweet Potato: Here’s Why You Should Include This Healthy Vegetable in Your Diet

sweet potatoes

Many of us may already know about sweet potatoes....isn’t it!!  They look like common potatoes but are little different in taste and colour. Sweet Potato is a sweet and starchy root vegetable grown all across the world. They come in a variety of sizes & colours that includes orange, purple and white.

Sweet Potato Nutrients

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of fibre and contain an array of vitamins as well as minerals including calcium, iron and selenium. They are also a great source of most of our B vitamins & vitamin C. An important nutritional benefit of sweet potatoes is that they are loaded with an antioxidant called beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A after consumption. You can add a drop of olive oil before eating to increase your absorption of beneficial beta-carotene.

Sweet Potato Nutrition facts

The nutrition facts for 100 grams of raw sweet potatoes:

  • Water: 77%

  • Calories: 86

  • Carbs: 20.1 grams

  • Fiber: 3 grams

  • Protein: 1.6 grams

  • Sugar: 4.2 grams

  • Fat: 0.1 grams

sweet potato

Sweet potato benefits

Supports Healthy Vision

Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene - the antioxidant which is responsible for the vegetable’s bright orange colour. 1 cup or 200 grams of baked orange sweet potato with skin offers more than 7 times the amount of beta-carotene that an average adult requires every day.

Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body and then is used to form light-detecting receptors inside the eyes.

Serious vitamin A deficiency is a major problem in developing nations and can lead to a special type of blindness called xerophthalmia. By eating foods rich in beta-carotene, like orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, may help prevent this condition.

In addition, purple sweet potatoes also seem to have vision benefits.

Good for Gut Health

The fibers as well as antioxidants in sweet potatoes are very beneficial for gut health. Sweet potatoes contain 2 types of fiber i.e. soluble & insoluble. Body cannot digest either of the type. Hence, fiber stays within the digestive tract & provides a number of gut-related health benefits.

Certain types of soluble fiber or viscous fibers absorb water & soften the stool. Some soluble & insoluble fibers can also be fermented by bacteria in the colon, creating compounds known as short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells of intestinal lining & keep them healthy & strong

Improves Brain Function

Eating purple sweet potatoes could improve brain function. Animal studies have shown that the anthocyanins present in purple sweet potatoes can protect the brain by decreasing inflammation & preventing free radical damage.

Supplementing with anthocyanin-rich sweet potato extract has shown to enhance learning and memory in mice, probably due to its antioxidant properties.

vegetable

Supports Immune System

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are known to be one of the richest natural sources of beta-carotene - a plant-based compound which is converted to vitamin A in the body. And Vitamin A is important for a healthy immune system. It is also good for healthy mucous membranes, particularly in the lining of the gut. Gut is where the body is exposed to several potential disease-causing pathogens. Thus, a healthy gut is an important part of a healthy immune system.

Have Some Cancer-Fighting Properties

Sweet potatoes provide various antioxidants that may help protect against certain types of cancers. Anthocyanins found in purple sweet potatoes have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells in test-tube researches, including those of the stomach, bladder, colon and breast.

Promotes Fertility in women

According to Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publications, for women of childbearing age, eating more iron from plant sources promote fertility. The vitamin A in sweet potatoes is also necessary for hormone synthesis during pregnancy as well as lactation.

Sweet Potato Recipes and ways to include it in your Diet

You can very easily add sweet potatoes to add to your diet. They can be enjoyed with or without the skin, whichever way is convenient for you. Some popular ways to enjoy sweet potatoes are:

  • Sweet potato fries - Peeled, cut into wedges & baked or fried.

  • Sweet potato chips - Peeled, thinly sliced & baked or fried.

  • Sweet potato toast - Cut into thin slices, toast & top with ingredients like nut butter.

  • Mashed sweet potatoes with milk & seasoning.

You can also just boil the sweet potatoes, add some salt and black pepper and eat it. There are numerous healthy and delicious sweet potato recipes available in the internet.



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Krishi Jagran