For many years, the health and wellness community has been encouraging people to switch from eating the traditional white potato to the more nutritious sweet potato. Everywhere you look sweet potatoes are taking over the menu. From sweet potato french fries, to sweet potato au gratin and mashed sweet potatoes these yellow and orange tubers are taking over the potato world.
What is it about the sweet potato that has garnered it this new status as a nutritional powerhouse?
Sweet potatoes contain several vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium and iron. These micronutrients are crucial to maintaining health and preventing disease.
How can sweet potatoes improve your health:
1. Reduce the risk of heart disease – Vitamin B6 in sweet potatoes helps to reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to hardening of the arteries and increased risk of heart attack. Potassium in sweet potatoes can help regulate fluid levels in the body and reduce blood pressure.
2. Help control blood sugar – Despite the name, sweet potatoes are low in natural sugars. As a result they have little impact on blood sugar allowing it to stay level rather than rising and falling. In the long term a spike in blood sugar and the resulting insulin response can lead to diabetes in some individuals. The fiber content of sweet potatoes helps slow intestinal absorption rate and further assist in keeping blood sugar levels stable and the mineral manganese aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates which also keeps blood sugar levels in line.
3. Fight cancer – Vitamin A, also known as beta carotene, gives the sweet potato its yellow-orange color. One serving of sweet potato can have as much as 400% of your daily requirement of vitamin A. Vitamin A is known as a powerful antioxidant that has been shown in numerous studies to help prevent prostate, breast, ovarian and colon cancers. It is also known that vitamin A protects the skin from the sun’s rays by both repairing old damage and protecting new skin cells.
4. Support the immune system – Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin C which helps fight infections like colds and the flu and the iron content in sweet potatoes also helps support the immune system by helping produce red and white blood cells.
5. Promote vision – The high levels of Vitamin A in sweet potato are beneficial to eye health. A deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to poor night vision and macular degeneration. Vitamin A also helps the surface of the eye block bacteria and infection. Vitamins C and E are also powerful antioxidants that support eye health.
6. Aid in weight loss – It may sound strange to say that eating potatoes can help you lose weight however sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to a weight loss plan for several reasons. Because they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels sweet potatoes will prevent blood sugar spikes that cause body to release high amounts of insulin and ultimately store fat. The fiber in sweet potatoes slows digestion making you feel fuller and more satiated longer than processed foods. The naturally sweet taste satisfies the desire for a sweet treat and can prevent binging on sugary snacks.
7. Reduce stress – The vitamins and minerals in sweet potatoes are terrific for helping to reduce stress. To learn more about how sweet potatoes can help you manage both psychological and physiological stresses sign up for my newsletter at www.getfitnews.net and get my FREE report “10 Foods to Help Reduce Stress”.
Sweet potatoes will only provide you with their many benefits if you prepare them in a healthy way. Boiling, baking or stir frying sweet potatoes are the best ways to take advantage of their nutrients.
Try this delicious stir fried sweet potato recipe:
2lbs sweet potatoes, washed, and cubed into 1/4” pieces
3 teaspoons rice bran oil or other stir fry oil
3-4 tablespoons water
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat with 3 teaspoons of oil.
-Once pan is hot add the sweet potatoes and stir to lightly coat the potatoes with the oil in the pan.
-Continue to stir fry the potatoes until tender and golden brown. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time as the pan gets dry to prevent the potatoes from sticking or burning.
-Once the potatoes have begun to soften add the minced ginger and stir fry along with the potatoes.
-When the potatoes are done sprinkle with the cloves and nutmeg and toss.
Serve as a side dish with roasted chicken, lettuce-wrapped turkey burgers or a salmon salad.