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Sweet Potatoes Can Lower the Risk of Stroke in Women

Updated on September 6, 2014

In a recent study of more than 90,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 over an 11 year period were followed and their consumption of potassium was studied. This study looked at whether or not these women had strokes or if they passed away during the period of time they were studied. The results demonstrated that those women who consumed the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer a stroke in general.

In addition, those individuals who ate the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die than those women who ate the least. Even better, it revealed that women who did not already suffer from high blood pressure benefited the most thus leading researchers to conclude that a higher dietary intake of potassium might prove to be most beneficial before one is actually diagnosed with high blood pressure.

What does this all mean? Well, if your considering translating these kinds of results to your own health, you will want to consider consuming foods that are rich in potassium to decrease your risk for hypertension and stroke.

Although there are a variety of fruits and/or vegetables that contain potassium, what better place to start than the sweet potato?

About the Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are often described as “not really” being a member of the potato family but more part of the morning glory family of vegetables. Although sweet potatoes are most commonly grown in southern states, they are also grown in the north.

Where sweet potatoes originate in the United States often dictates its appearance with the feel of it being firmer and the appearance being more than of a fleshy yellow if grown in the north versus that of the southern sweet potato which are often softer and more orange in appearance.

The recommended daily intake of potassium is approximately 4700 milligrams. Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, consisting of approximately 950 milligrams per serving. Why is potassium important to our bodies? Potassium aids in decreasing and regulating blood pressure, which is particularly important for those with high blood pressure and in the presence of a high-sodium diets.

Although results are mixed when it comes to the research, many believe that potassium is beneficial in countering and prevention of osteoporosis through its impact in bone health.

Finally, potassium may slow progression of kidney disease that commonly accompanies hypertension. Hypertension can damage various structures in the kidney. Research has shown in rats that a regular intake of potassium may help to slow the progression of damage to the kidneys in the face of hypertension.

Health Benefits of the Sweet Potato

In addition to containing a significant level of potassium, sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin A providing more than twice the daily allowance. It is also full of the antioxidant beta-carotene which is responsible for the orange color commonly seen in the sweet potato.

Vitamin A supports immunity, vision and reproductive organs. It is also responsible for healthy skin and teeth.

Meanwhile beta-carotene helps to reduce the risk of certain cancers by combating free radicals in our system which are responsible for cell degeneration that can lead to cancer. Swedish researchers discovered that eating three or more servings a week of carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables or root vegetables like the sweet potato may have the ability to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by a range of 35 to 57 percent.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin B, C, E, magnesium and dietary fiber.

Shopping for Sweet Potatoes

When shopping for sweet potatoes, select those that that show no signs of bruising.


It is not recommended that sweet potatoes are refrigerated because when the environmental temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they begin to decay. They should be kept at room temperature in a dry and dark place. You can usually keep them for up to 10 days.

Preparation of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be prepared in a variety of fashions including but not limited to the following:

  • Bake: Wash the potato or “scrub” it, wrap in foil and place it in the oven for 60 minutes or until soft. Softness can be determined through the fork test. **You can also peel the sweet potato, cut into thin slices, brush with olive oil, season and make sweet potato fries.

  • Boil: Wash the potato, place in a deep boiling pot for 60 minutes or until soft.

  • Steam: Peeled or not-peeled, the potatos can be placed in a steam basket over a pot of water. Cover, turn heat to high, bringing water to boil, cook for 7 to 10 minutes.

© 2014 Mahogany Speaks


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