Soft and creamy, Ipomoea batatas are commonly referred to as sweet potatoes due to their mildly sweet taste.
While they are perfect for making desserts like pies and hence commonly considered a fruit, they are surprisingly root vegetables in the plant family.
These orange skinned vegetables are not just delightfully tasty but also equally nutritious.
Sweet Potatoes Are Packed With Everyday Nutrition For The Body
Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A making them extremely beneficial for good eyesight.
In fact, one large sweet potato has enough Vitamin A to meet the 100 percent requirement for the body in the day. Apart from Vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also rich in Vitamin B5 and B6.
This underground grown tuber is also rich in anti-oxidants making it a good weapon against aging of body cells.
The antioxidants of sweet potatoes are called beta-carotenes and they repair and rejuvenate the cells of the body keeping them young for long.
These beta-carotenes also help in increasing the Vitamin A level in blood, especially in young children.
The orange colored sweet potatoes are the most commonly found ones across the world. However, sweet potatoes also come in other colors like purple, white, yellow and pink.
Sweet potatoes gain their color from the carotenoids. Carotenoids are plant cells that are present more commonly in the root vegetables giving them color.
Examples of other root vegetables rich in carotenoids are carrots and radish.
Sweet Potatoes Have Much To Offer Through Their Nutritional Content
An uncooked sweet potato has 77% water which works towards hydrating our body. It has 20.1% carbohydrates that makes it a vegetable full of energy.
A good source of protein, it has 1.6% protein and 3% fiber in it. While many believe that sweet potatoes can be fattening because they are sweet, the fact is that sweet potatoes contain almost no fat!
Apart from Vitamin A and C, sweet potatoes also contain minerals such as:
These minerals are required for strengthening of bones and muscles and everyday well-being of our body. They also provide good dental health by making teeth strong.
Iron also is found in sweet potatoes which is beneficial in improving the RBC health in blood.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes?
Due to their rich nutritional content, sweet potatoes offer numerous health benefits.
Regular consumption of sweet potatoes is considered to improve the functionalities of different organs of body and keep them healthy for long.
They are one example of food that is healthy and tasty.
Improved Heart Health:
Homocysteine is a substance that causes hardening of the arteries and other blood vessels of the body.
Sweet potatoes contain high quantity of vitamin B6 that is very good at breaking down the homocysteine present in the body.
Hence eating sweet potatoes regularly keeps the blood vessels of the body supple which in turn improves blood circulation. This leads to overall betterment of heart health.
The Potassium present in sweet potatoes acts a good electrolyte and regulates the heartbeat. It also reduces the blood pressure by maintaining the fluid balance thus making the heart healthy.
Constant Source Of Energy:
Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index. This means, though they are sweet, they do not release their sugar immediately into the blood stream.
Due to this property of slower sugar release in the body, sweet potatoes help regulate the blood sugar level. This also leads to constant energy being provided to the body.
A white skinned variety of sweet potato is used to create a dietary supplement called Caiapo. This Caiapo is found to be very beneficial in regulating the blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients.
While there is research going on to establish the exact benefit in type 2 diabetes, sweet potatoes can soon be used in diabetes treatments as well.
The beta-carotenes present in sweet potatoes provide good anti-inflammatory properties to the vegetable.
One medium sized sweet potato is sufficient to meet half the requirement of Vitamin C by our body. Vitamin A and C along with the disease fighting anti-oxidants are very beneficial for healthy immune system.
The anti-oxidant called anthocyanin provides vegetables red, blue and purple color. It is also present in high quantities in purple sweet potatoes and has very good anti-inflammatory properties.
The magnesium in sweet potatoes reduces stress which is good for improved immunity.
How To Obtain The Best Benefit From Sweet Potatoes?
The best way to enjoy a sweet potato is by roasting it. However, to retain the nutrients in them while cooking, it is advisable to use steaming or boiling as the cooking methods.
Anti-oxidant like Anthocyanin are preserved well while boiling. Two minutes of steaming, deactivates peroxidase enzymes that break up the Anthocyanin while cooking through other means.
This preserves Anthocyanin which can be absorbed by the body.
It is also found that the glycemic index is maintained low when the sweet potatoes are steamed.
Roasting increases this GI value leading to higher blood sugar levels after eating the vegetable.
To be able to absorb the beta-carotenes from sweet potatoes, it has been found that consuming a small amount of fat along with the vegetable is good.
Approximately 3 to 5 grams of fat make it very easy for our body to absorb the beta carotenes.
How To Select Good Sweet Potatoes?
To be able to derive all the benefits of sweet potatoes, it is important to select the fresh and healthy vegetable. Select a sweet potato that is firm and does not have any cracks or soft spots on it.
Those stored in refrigerators can have an altered taste, hence it is better to choose the ones at room temperature.
Sweet potatoes are vegetables that can be relished just plain steamed, roasted or used in making desserts.
Whatever way it is, they are extremely good for health due to their rich nutritional content. Eat them regularly and enjoy the benefits they bring to overall health.