Sweet potatoes are inexpensive and nutritious. Commonly labeled as yams (although they are not the same), sweet potatoes are a great addition to your diet needs and offer superior benefits to your health and weight control efforts. Here are some of the benefits of sweet potatoes:
Good for the heartSweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B6 which helps the heart by protecting the arteries and blood vessels. Vitamin B6 inhibits the buildup of homocysteine, keeping arteries and blood vessels healthy by allowing the blood to flow freely.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in potassium that helps reduce blood pressure by eliminating excess sodium build up, promoting fluid balance. Your body needs potassium, an electrolyte, to keep natural heart rhythm and promote normal central nervous system function.
Rich in fiberSweet potatoes contain more than twice the fiber content of other types of potatoes. It can contain as much 7 grams of fiber and is a great addition to any meal. High-fiber foods help you control your weight better because they burn more slowly and efficiently compared to low-fiber foods.
Sweet potatoes have both soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers form a gel and slow digestion down. It delays the emptying of your stomach which makes you feel full longer. It helps control weight, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and lowers LDL cholesterol.
Insoluble fibers benefit the digestive system by providing a laxative effect and adding bulk to your diet. They remain relatively intact as they pass through the digestive tract, speeding up the passage of food and waste through the gut.
Rich in Vitamin AAlso known beta carotene, vitamin A is an important antioxidant. A medium-sized sweet potato contains more than enough of your daily vitamin A needs. It helps the body fight off many forms of cancer.
It also protects the skin from sun damage. Eating the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A helps increase the skin’s resistance to harmful UV rays. It helps repair the damage done by excessive sun exposure. It is also excellent for eye health, preventing vision loss and macular degeneration.
Source of ManganeseManganese is an important trace mineral needed for proper carbohydrate metabolism, promoting healthy blood sugar balance. It helps suppress your appetite to prevent you from overeating.
Manganese is also a cofactor in enzymes needed in chemical reactions for energy and antioxidant utilization. It is also used to treat anemia and severe premenstrual symptoms.
Provides Vitamins C and ESweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and E. Both are antioxidants that play a vital role in preventing many diseases and contribute to longevity.
Vitamins C and E are important components in skin and hair beauty products. Sweet potatoes, being rich in vitamins A, C, and E help in keeping us healthy inside and outside.
How to prepare sweet potatoesHere are some of the healthy ways you can prepare your sweet potatoes:
- Bake on a sheet at 400°F oven for 40-60 minutes.
- Boil or steam, peeled or unpeeled; 5 min for small-sized and 30 min for medium-sized.
- Add to soups and stews.
Simon Bukai is the President of VISTA Health Solutions, an online health insurance marketplace aimed at finding affordable health care solutions for individuals, small business owners and the self employed.
photo: Albert Cahalan