Sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch. They have got over 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A in one medium spud, as well as loads of fiber and potassium. They have got more grams of natural sugars than regular potato but more overall nutrients with fewer calories.
1. Fight Diabetes
Sweet potatoes are considered low on the glycemic index scale, and recent research suggests they may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes. The fiber in sweet potatoes makes a big difference too. Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium sweet potato provides about 6 grams of fiber (skin on).
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men, which most people do not reach.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of US adults are meeting the daily 4,700 mg recommendation for potassium. One medium sweet potato provides about 542 milligrams.
3. Cancer Prevention
Among younger men, diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
4. Improve Vision
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it gets stored in fat cells in the body. This vitamin helps promote good vision, and it also strengthens the skin and connective tissue. A medium-sized sweet potato has nearly 1,100 micrograms of vitamin A. The daily recommended intake is 900 micrograms a day for men and 700 micrograms for women. One sweet potato accounts for over 100 percent of the recommended intake for both genders.
5. Digestive and Regularity Benefits
Fiber comes in insoluble and soluble varieties, each of which benefits your intestinal health when consumed on a regular basis. Insoluble fiber creates bulky stool that is easy to pass, which prevents constipation and reduces the risk of intestinal diseases. Soluble fiber absorbs water, forming a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. This helps block the absorption of cholesterol, which lowers heart disease risk. Sweet potatoes contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, so you get the benefits of both. A medium sweet potato contains about 4 grams of total fiber.
6. Boost Fertility
For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources appears to promote fertility, according Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in sweet potatoes (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.
7. Immunity and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
One sweet potato contains about half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Vitamins A and E also support a healthy immune system and are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. While orange sweet potatoes contain more vitamin A, purple sweet potatoes are packed with the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is responsible for red, blue and purple colors in fruits and vegetables. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, pigment-related antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial to overall health and help mitigate inflammatory disorders.
8. Superior Fiber Content
Sweet potatoes contain almost twice as much fiber as other types of potatoes. Contributing close to 7 grams of fiber per serving, they make an excellent starchy addition to any meal. The high fiber content gives them a “slow burning” quality. This basically means their caloric energy is used more slowly and efficiently than a low-fiber carbohydrate.
9. A Great Source of Manganese
Manganese is a little-discussed trace mineral that has some great health benefits. It is a pivotal component in the metabolism of carbohydrates which helps support healthy blood sugar levels. This can help stabilize the appetite for hours as opposed to the temporary satisfaction that comes with most other carbohydrates.
It also is a cofactor in enzymes that play an important role in the generation of energy as well as the efficient utilization of antioxidants. It is used for the treatment of anemia and is useful as a treatment for several premenstrual symptoms in women as well.
10. Skin and Hair Benefits
Vitamin A may help protect against sun damage, according to a 2004 study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, and vitamins C and E are well-known for their beauty benefits. They encourage healthy, glowing skin and collagen growth.
11. Improve Exercise Performance
Potassium is an electrolyte mineral that plays a major role in muscle contractions. This is beneficial, especially if you are an athlete or serious weight trainer. A medium-sized sweet potato contains 542 milligrams of potassium. The recommended daily intake for adults is 4,700 milligrams. Potassium also plays a role in high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, potassium helps negate the effects of sodium, including water retention and high blood pressure.
12. Sweet Potatoes Relieve Asthma
Sweet potatoes are effective for curing congestion of the nose, bronchi and lungs, thereby giving relief from asthma. Its typical aroma helps in this property.
13. Cure Bronchitis
The concentration of vitamin-C, iron and other nutrients help to cure bronchitis. Sweet potatoes are believed to be capable of warming up the body, possibly due to the sweetness and other nutrients that impact body temperature. This property is also beneficial for people suffering from bronchitis, along with its powerful effect on congestion.
14. Maintain Water Balance
The fiber or roughage present in sweet potatoes helps the body retain water. This maintains water balance in the body, keeping your hydrated and your cells functioning efficiently.
15. Relieve Stomach Ulcers
Sweet potatoes have a soothing effect on the stomach and the intestines. B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium and calcium are all very effective in curing stomach ulcers. Moreover, the roughage in sweet potatoes prevents constipation and the resultant acid formation, thereby reducing the chance of ulcers. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of sweet potatoes also reduce the pain and inflammation of the ulcers.
16. Weight Gain Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
This benefit is quite easy to understand. Sweet potatoes are sweet, and they contain very good amounts of complex starch, along with healthy vitamins, minerals and some proteins. Moreover, they are very easy to digest. Thus, they provide a lot of energy and are excellent bulk builders for people looking to gain weight.
People who have recently suffered from illnesses, or are self-conscious about being frail or abnormally thin should welcome this news about sweet potatoes, since there are no associated side effects, which most of the synthetic bulk building dietary supplements have.