Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Benefits of sweet potatoes : introduction
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite diets. I love the sweet taste and the aroma of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes were considered a poor man’s food when I was a young boy. Sweet potatoes were very cheap during those days but very filling to the stomach. The fact that sweet potatoes are very easy to cook and can be eaten on its own, says a lot for being a poor man’s food. However, today, sweet potatoes do not come cheap anymore. What a pity. But on the plus side, the benefits of sweet potatoes are now better known. Sweet potatoes are now considered one of the super foods.
Sweet potatoes are called in various names. Batata, boniato, and camote in Spain and Mexico; kumar in Peru; kumara in the Polynesian Islands, including New Zealand; cilera abana (protector of the children) in Eastern Africa; ubhatata in South Africa; and kara-imo and satsuma-imo in Japan. In China alone, sweet potatoes are called different names in different parts of China.
Sweet potatoes are supposed to be native to Central America, but as far as I know, the Chinese have been eating sweet potatoes a very long time ago. In China and Japan, baked and steamed sweet potatoes are popularly sold as street food.
In fact China is now the largest grower of sweet potatoes and accounts for 80% of the world’s supply. China grows over 100 varieties of sweet potatoes.
Benefits of sweet potatoes : nutritional profile
Sweet potatoes contain high levels of antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. They are packed with vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene) , B6 (pyridoxine), and C. They have plenty of manganese, copper, potassium, iron and dietary fiber, together with complex carbohydrates. But sweet potatoes are low in calories and fat-free.
The orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene which gives us vitamin A. Sweet potatoes have been used to help children in Africa to improve their vitamin A deficiency. No wonder it’s called “protector of the children” in Africa.
Despite its name, sweet potatoes help to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance. Diabetics should eat more sweet potatoes.
Take note of the purple-fleshed sweet potatoes. These purple sweet potatoes are purple in color due to the presence of a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin.
Antioxidants are present in fruits and vegetables, and they help prevent diseases relating to cardiovascular problems and cancer. They also strengthen the immune system, are anti-inflammatory, and keep bones and skin healthy. The most powerful antioxidants are called phytochemicals, and the two very potent of these chemical compounds are beta-carotene and anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are flavenoid compounds which produce the purplish pigmentation in the purple sweet potatoes.
Two strands of anthocyanin, called cyanidin and peonidin, are powerful antioxidants which slow down the growth of cancerous cells, and are used to treat colon cancer. Research has shown that cyanidins and peonidins when passing through the digestive tract, may be able to reduce damage caused by heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
Sweet potatoes have storage proteins called sporamins which help the potatoes to heal its damaged parts. These are also antioxidants which are beneficial to our gastrointestinal tract. Another lesser known nutrient group of the sweet potatoes are the resin glycosides, which have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
How to eat sweet potatoes
Store sweet potatoes in a cool dry place. Do not keep them in the refrigerator as the taste will be affected. Do not wash them when storing as the moisture will hasten their decay. As the sweet potatoes mature, an enzyme converts most of its starches into sugars. This sweetness continues to increase during storage and when they are cooked.
The best healthy method to eat sweet potatoes is by steaming them whole with the skin intact. They should be ready for consumption within 7 minutes of steaming. As the skin also contains rich nutrients, you can also eat it with the flesh. If you don't want to eat the skin, it can be easily peeled off after the sweet potatoes are cooked.
For a change, you may like to try my very simple “sweet potato broth” recipe by CLICKING HERE.
By the way, the leaves of the sweet potatoes are also edible. They are nutritious and delicious. We usually stir fry them with dried prawns and chillies.
A word of caution
About 80% of kidney stones formed by adults in the U.S. are calcium oxalate stones. Sweet potatoes are amongst a small group of foods that contain a reasonable amount of oxalates; and for this reason, those with kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating too much sweet potatoes.
The information provided in this article is sourced from the internet, from friends and contacts, and from personal experience. As I cautioned in my article, not every remedy will work on everyone. So is conventional medical treatment. It very much depends on the constituents of the person and the conditions peculiar to that person. Whatever the reasons, this article does not claim the information provided is totally accurate and reliable and will cure everyone. The purpose of this article is merely to inform visitors that there are alternative cures for all ailments.
You are therefore advised to consult your registered medical physicians as a matter of due diligence.
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