Do you know there are 6500 varieties of sweet potatoes in the world? Even we are not sure of all such types, but given a chance, would like to try them all.
Sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting vegetable rich in nutritional value. These are grown worldwide and come in a variety of sizes and colours such as orange, white, purple.
Sweet potatoes are often mistaken as white potatoes, but they are not the same- they are from a different family. Non-sweet potatoes or white potatoes are part of the edible nightshade family; other members include tomatoes, eggplants whereas sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family.
Sweet potatoes are root tubers which store water and energy like starch and carbohydrates underground.
What makes a sweet potato sweet?
When we heat sweet potatoes, an enzyme starts breaking down their starch into a sugar called maltose- which isn’t as sweet as table sugar but can satisfy a sweet tooth.
The sweetness of the sweet potato can also be controlled by the way it is cooked. Cooking sweet potatoes quickly by steaming or boiling can reduce their ultimate sweetness. On the other hand, simmering them on low heat will allow that maltose-making enzyme more time to convert the starch into sugar, giving us sweeter sweet potatoes.
Are Sweet Potatoes good for health?
Yes! They are. Not everything that tastes sweet is unhealthy. Apart from their sweet taste, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fibre and antioxidants. The traditional Okinawan diet of Japanese people gets 60% of their calories from sweet potatoes alone.
Sweet potatoes have some unique nutritional properties, which make them powerful in preventing diseases and supporting overall health. Here are some incredible benefits of adding sweet potatoes to your diet.
1. Supports Digestive System
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of fibre (essential for your digestive health), especially the skin. It helps prevent constipation and diseases such as colon cancer.
One medium sweet potato has 6 grams of dietary fibre. They also contain resistant starch, which plays a role in feeding the body’s “good” bacteria.
2. Keep the heart-healthy
The high fibre of sweet potatoes can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in potassium, which works in balance with sodium to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Sweet potatoes are also high in copper, an essential metal for making red blood cells and keeping your heart healthy.
3. Help Stabilize Blood Sugar
The fibre and complex carbohydrates present in sweet potatoes can help keep blood sugar stable and enables you to feel full longer.
According to a study, an extract from white sweet potatoes naturally reduce and manage blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.
4. They Can Boost Immunity
The antioxidants present in sweet potatoes can prevent free radical damage in the body.
One cup of sweet potato (baked) contains 52% of vitamin C, which is essential for wound healing and tissue repair.
Vitamin A in sweet potatoes helps the body make immune cells that stave off infections and diseases.
5. They Are Good for Your Eyes
Sweet potatoes contain several nutrients and carotenoids that have been linked to improved eye health and vision.
6. Fuel Your Brain
Sweet potatoes also contain compounds like choline and manganese that help brain growth and development. The anthocyanins present in purple sweet potatoes may also have memory-enhancing properties.
7. They Can Help Ease Stress and Anxiety
Sweet potatoes are high in magnesium, which plays a role in calming the brain. Magnesium deficiency is linked to depression, mood disturbances, and headaches.
8. They Can Help Boost Fertility
Vitamin A, rich in sweet potatoes, is an essential nutrient for healthy reproduction.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in iron, which also plays a role in supporting fertility.
9. Help Fight Cancer
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of cancer-fighting antioxidants. About 80% of the protein in sweet potatoes is a type of storage protein known as sporamin, a unique protein that has been studied for anti-cancer ability and found to be effective in several disease types.
10. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
High levels of nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and magnesium in sweet potatoes, help reduce inflammation.
Cyanidin is one of the antioxidants that’s found most abundantly in purple sweet potato flesh. It is linked to reducing inflammation, especially in the digestive tract.
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