Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN

3 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

1/23/2013 9:03:00 AM

Tags: natural health, health, health benefits of, sweet potatoes, antioxidants, beta-carotene, anthocyanin, sporamins, blood sugar, anti-inflammatory, recipes

Winter means it’s time for root vegetables. Suitable for being grown in cold weather and stored for months at a time, root vegetables are a staple winter food. High in fiber and low in calories, they’re also a nutritious choice. Sweet potatoes are a common root vegetable, and like other roots, they’re chock full of beneficial compounds.

sweet potatoes
Photo By Amanda Richards/Flickr

3 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Antioxidant Content

Sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene—the antioxidant responsible for the hue of the orange varieties—found in nature. Several African studies have found sweet potatoes to have 100 to 1,600 micrograms of vitamin A for every 3.5 ounces and to be an excellent way for school-aged children in Caribbean and African countries to get enough vitamin A in their diet. But beta-carotene isn’t the only antioxidant in rich supply in sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes contain high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin. And unlike other foods, which contain the highest concentrations of and nutrients in their skin, purple sweet potatoes have ample amounts of anythocynins in their flesh. Sweet potatoes also have high levels of vitamin C and sporamins, which are “storage proteins” that help the vegetable to heal itself if physically damaged.

Blood Sugar Benefits

Unlike other starchy root vegetables, sweet potatoes can actually have a positive effect on blood sugar levels—even for those with type 2 diabetes. Eating sweet potatoes can raise levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate insulin metabolism, and low levels of which are often seen in people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, sweet potatoes contain a moderate amount of fiber (about 3 grams) and have a low glycemic index rating.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Studies have shown that eating sweet potatoes decreases formation of substances that can lead to inflammation, thanks to anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants that can offset inflammation triggers. In animal studies, animals that consumed sweet potato had less inflammation in their brain and nerve tissue. One important component of sweet potatoes’ ability to fight off inflammation is beta-cryptoxanthin, which helps prevent the formation of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Eat Sweet Potatoes

Although most people will think of the orange variety, sweet potatoes come in a variety of shades ranging from white and cream to yellow, pink and purple. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways. For inspiration, check out these recipes:

Sweet Potato Colcannon
Caramel Sweet Potatoes
Southern Sweet Potatoes
Savory Vegetable Stew with Lentils, Sweet Potatoes and Kale
Sherried Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Sage
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch Topping
Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree

To derive the maximum health benefits from your sweet potatoes, be sure to eat them with fat-containing foods, as fat helps the body absorb more beta-carotene from the sweet potatoes.


Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of
Mother Earth Living. Find her on .


Related Content

Making Gnocchi: A Pictorial

Guest blogger KyLynn Hull tries her hand at making gnocchi.

Zest Up Your Palate With Ginger!

One Herb Companion staffer describes her recent fascination with ginger candy, including its spicy f...

A New Favorite Sugar

Although we should limit our sugar consumption for health, coconut sugar is a healthier alternative ...

Health Goals: Boost Your Immune System

Protect yourself from illness and help your immune system stay in top form.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.