Sweet potatoes are also wrongly considered as yams which have a scientific name Ipomea batata. It is a tuberous root and its color varies from purple to reddish brown to white. It was cultivated in 750 BCE in Peru and was discovered by Columbus. Yams have one seeded embryonic leaf while sweet potatoes have two. There are nearly 400 different varieties of sweet potatoes which range in color and skin texture. There are a lot of health benefits of sweet potatoes, however it should be cooked in a way in which there is no loss of it’s nutrients. Boiling sweet potatoes is not recommended as it loses the nutrients while baking and frying them will help it not only to taste good but will also retain all the nutrients.
20 Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes
1. Sweet Potato Nutrition
Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrition. They contain 12 % dietary fiber, 7% carbohydrates, 4% calories, 5% thiamin, 8% pantothenic acid, 10% vitamin B6, 284% vitamin A, 13% manganese, 8% copper, 10% potassium and 6% magnesium. This is the total daily requirements per 100g of sweet potatoes.
2. Treats Asthma
Sweet potatoes help in relieving asthma by curing sinus congestion. It has a typical aroma that helps in this process.
3. Aids Digestion
Sweet potatoes are rich in starch which is rapidly broken down and thereby, increases the glycemic index. There is also some amount of resistant starch that is not broken down and acts like fiber which increases in sweet potatoes after cooking them and letting them cool.
4. Manages Arthritis
One of the health benefits of sweet potatoes is that they are rich in vitamins and minerals. This in turn helps to reduce the pain associated with arthritis. They contain zinc, magnesium, beta-carotene and vitamin B complex which help in benefiting people suffering from arthritis.
5. Body Build Up
People who are looking for bulkier look or are frail and want to gain weight can benefit from sweet potatoes. They help in providing the body with a large amount of energy which is needed during workouts for building up muscles. They are the healthier options as compared to the commercial supplements.
6. Relieves Bronchitis
Sweet potatoes benefits the body, as it contains good amounts of vitamin C. This tuberous root also helps in body warming and can clear up congestion.
7. Improves Stomach Health
Sweet potatoes are easily digested and therefore does not damage the protective lining of the stomach. Also, they help promote the formation of the stomach lining by providing the body with beta-carotene, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. These help in preventing stomach ulcers and also help in treating people that are suffering from stomach ulcers. It also prevents constipation and relieves the pain caused by the ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
8. Improves Eye Health
Sweet potatoes contain good amounts of vitamin A which is crucial in promoting eye health. It helps in preventing temporary or permanent damage caused to the eyes if the body is deficient in vitamin A. People suffering from night blindness can also benefit from sweet potatoes and also helps in preventing macular degeneration which is advanced age-related eye conditions. Thus, sweet potatoes benefits the body by improving vision and eye health.
9. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
A type of sweet potato known as Caiapo can regulate blood sugar levels as well as increase insulin sensitivity which is also the main characteristics in type-2 diabetic patients. Caiapo can also decrease blood sugar levels in people suffering from high blood sugar as well as it can also reduce LDL cholesterol in the body.
10. Reduces The Risk Of Cancer
Sweet potatoes are healthier than regular potatoes as they have a higher amount of antioxidants present in them. These antioxidants help reduce the oxidative damage which can thereby, reduce the risk of cancers. Oxidative stress promotes the release of free radicals in the body which is harmful cancer causing agents. Beta carotene is shown to reduce the risk of prostate and colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that purple sweet potatoes have 3 times higher amounts of antioxidants present in them as compared to a certain variety of blueberries.
11. Promotes Water Retention
Consuming sweet potatoes can help promote water balance in the body. This is due to the fact that it has fiber and roughage which helps in retaining water and also hydrating the body. This in turn helps in maintaining proper cell functioning.
12. Maintains Blood Pressure
Sweet potatoes health benefits the body as it helps in lowering blood pressure. A low sodium intake is necessary for lowering blood pressure and also high levels of potassium are also necessary to do the job. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of adults in the US consume their daily recommended levels of potassium. Therefore, adding sweet potatoes to the diet is important.
13. Promotes Fertility
According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications, for women iron from plants is required for increasing fertility. Also, beta-carotene is also necessary for promoting lactation for hormone synthesis in lactating mothers and also is beneficial to pregnant women.
14. Promotes Immunity
Sweet potatoes contain beta carotene and vitamin C which are powerful antioxidants. Vitamin C helps in preventing common colds and flu as well as prevents other problems from occurring with improving your immunity.
15. Aids In Sleep
One of the health benefits of sweet potatoes is that they contain choline. Choline aids in sleep and thereby preventing mood swings and anxiety caused due to lack of sleep. Good amount of sleep is also related to learning and memory and thereby, improves the overall functioning of the body.
16. Reduces Inflammation
According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, purple sweet potato extract have antilipogenic as well as anti inflammatory effects and also antioxidant properties. They contain choline which is an anti inflammatory agent and thereby improves skin conditions that cause inflammation.
17. Improves Heart Health
One of the main health benefits of sweet potatoes is that they promote heart health. They contain magnesium which artery health and improves function of the heart muscles. It also contains potassium that regulates heartbeats. Thus, sweet potatoes helps in managing blood pressure and also reduces the levels of bad cholesterol that helps in promoting strokes and heart conditions.
18. Manages Diabetes
Sweet potatoes helps regulate blood glucose levels as well as increases insulin sensitivity. This two are the main characteristics that type 2 diabetes patients suffer from. It can also lower the glycemic index which is beneficial to diabetics. Thus, incorporating sweet potatoes in to the diet can help in managing diabetes.
19. Healing Properties
One of the health benefits of sweet potatoes is that it contains sporamins. This is a protein and contributes to 80% of the total proteins present in the sweet potatoes. These proteins facilitate healing of wounds and cuts. This can be a source of protein in developing countries and places where people suffer from protein deficiency.
20. Anti Aging
One of the benefits of sweet potatoes is that it is rich in antioxidants like carotenoids, vitamin A, C and E. These are powerful agents and helps in collagen formation which in turn promotes skin elasticity. There is also production of new skin cells which helps reduce the pigmentation and blemishes caused by sun damage. It also slows down cellular aging.
Studies Carried On Sweet Potatoes
Studies have shown cooking sweet potatoes like boiling, frying, steaming or baking it helps in releasing beta-carotenes. This makes it more accessible for the body and therefore, is better than eating them raw. Studies have also shown that sweet potato extract has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation in the brain tissue as well as nerve tissue in the body. Furthermore, anthocyanidins which are present in purple sweet potato contains powerful antioxidants like flavonoids that can heal wounds. Research shows that in the presence of pyridines and dimethylhydraine, both benign and cancerous colorectal tumors multiply. However, both these toxins are inhibited with purple sweet potatoes. This evidence shows that purple sweet potatoes have the potential to reduce colorectal carcinogens.
Regular Potatoes Versus Sweet Potatoes
This is important to show the difference between them and also to know the healthier option between them. Sweet potatoes contain higher levels of fibers, sugars and a lower glycemic index as compared to regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes also have slower absorption and also contain good levels of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. They also have higher amounts of essential vitamins and minerals as compared to regular potatoes. Thus, the summary of this is that the sweet potato is a healthier option as compared to regular potato. It is also a cheaper and tastier option to be incorporated in to the diet.
Concerns Of Sweet Potatoes
Individuals should be concerned about one effect of sweet potatoes on the body. That is that they have fairly high amounts of oxalates which may cause a person to be more prone to kidney stone formation. It is also high in potassium that can prove fatal to the kidneys as kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium out of the blood.