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Sweet Potato Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Sweet Potato?

Sweet potato is an underground tuber. It grows on the roots of a plant known scientifically as Ipomoea batatas. The deep orange colour is more than just different than white potatoes
There are about 400 varieties of sweet potato, some more rare than others, differentiated by their skin and flesh color, ranging from cream, yellow, and orange to pink or purple. Oxidation turns them dark in spots after peeling, so it’s best to bake or steam immediately, or place in water until you do.

 

Health Benefits of Sweet Potato

Keep your digestion running and help beat disease: One medium sweet potato with skin provides roughly between 4 to 6 grams of fiber, which doesn’t make them the highest fiber source from the plant world, but they pack a nice punch and are commonly included with foods recommended as good sources of the stuff. The National Institute of Medicine set the Dietary Reference Intake for fiber at 21 to 25 grams a day for women while men should get 30 to 38 grams per day. Most people don’t reach these levels. Fiber appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease and constipation.

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Good for your skin: Eating sweet potatoes can greatly enhance the health of your skin due to the high content of beta-carotene, which helps convert vitamin A in your body that triggers DNA responsible to produce new skin cells. Ever wonder why most of your skincare products have retinoic acid and retinol in them?
As your body makes new cells, your old skin is sloughed off and you end up with a vibrant sheen that is more resistant to chemicals and damage. Also, some experts claim that beta-carotene helps reverse free radical damage, which leads to wrinkles.
If you want healthy glowing skin, consider using sweet potato products to help keep your skin hydrated.

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Tame inflammation: Sweet potatoes are a good source of choline, a micronutrient in the B-vitamin family. While choline is readily available in meat and eggs, good plant-based sources are harder to come by — but sweet potato can be counted as one of them. Choline helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory, among other things, but it is also important in reducing chronic inflammation.

Help regulate blood sugar: While white potatoes’ high glycemic index mean that their carbohydrates are quickly converted into sugar and a corresponding elevation in blood sugar levels, sweet potatoes are different. They fall much lower on the glycemic index which is better for avoiding sugar crashes and better for diabetes control, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Sweet potatoes in moderate amounts can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels even for those with diabetes.

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Uses of Sweet Potato

  • They can be consumed in a variety of ways, but are most commonly boiled, baked, steamed or fried.
  • Try them roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients.  Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods.

Nutritional value of Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6 which supports energy. A raw sweet potato contains water (77%), carbohydrate (20.1%), protein (1.6%), fiber (3%) and almost no fat.