Sweet Potato Benefits for Healthy Living
About the Potato
The sweet potato is the sister to the ever-popular white potato, commonly known as Irish or Idaho potatoes. This sweet vegetable, with red skin and yellow, orange, or purple flesh, might not be as popular as the white potato but is delicious and nutritious nonetheless. In recent years there have been many studies conducted that show its numerous health benefits. Its nutrients are essential to optimal health performance and should be included in our diets.
As one of the oldest foods in the world. Evidence exists that the potato dates back 10,000 years. The first discovery was in the Peruvian caves. Sweet potatoes were first grown in Central America. It was Christopher Columbus who introduced them to the New World in 1492.
Sweet Potato Nutrition
The sweet potato nutrition starts with beta-carotene. To some, this delicious food item is medicine, yet who would complain about such tasty medication? The question is, how important is beta-carotene? Also known as vitamin A or retinol, this very important vitamin is essential for night vision and healthy skin. Beta-carotene also helps prevent cancer formation and other diseases by boosting the immune system. This is due to its very powerful antioxidant properties. We can safely say that the sweet potato is a super food.
The benefits of this root vegetable do not stop there. It also has Vitamin C, which is another very powerful anti-oxidant used to strengthen the immune system and fight free radicals.
Manganese, copper, potassium, and iron are minerals contained in sweet potatoes.
Anthocyanin is a pigment found in this food and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
The phytonutrients in sweet potatoes are known to reduce inflammation in the brain and nervous tissues throughout the body.
Another important function is the regulation of blood sugar levels by increasing adiponectin in people with type two diabetes. Adiponectin is produced by our fats cells as a protein hormone and plays a very important role in the modification of the metabolism of insulin.
Including this tasty vegetable in the diet can only enhance your health. There are many ways to prepare it including entrée, desserts, soups and salads. Pick some up in the green isle while grocery shopping.
Some Popular Sweet Potato Dishes
The sweet potato is very tasty. The truth is I am not sure if I prefer them to the white ones, but I know that they might be a a little more diverse in their uses because of their flavor and color.
Here are ways that the sweet potato can be used:-
- potato wedges
- potato pie
- sweet potato pudding (a Jamaican specialty)
- candied potatoes
- sweet potato salad
- mashed (mash with cheese for added zip)
- sweet potato loaf
- crisp or chips
- simple baked sweet potato
The truth is you can use this vegetable however you like in whatever dishes you like. Experiment and create your own dishes, The greatest thing to remember is its benefit to your health.
© 2011 Carolee Samuda