Good morning everyone, and happy weekend!!
I just wanted to stop by and share this article with you all. It was written by Adrienne over at Mercola.com, a website known for their natural health articles. They contacted me asking if I would share a post about the health benefits of sweet potatoes, and I figured, why not? We could all use a bit more information here and there. In addition to their article, I thought I’d round up some sweet potato recipes – some of my favorite and some that I really want to give a try!
Sweet potatoes are more than just a side dish served in Thanksgiving meals – they are actually a source of valuable nutrients. Studies show that they possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and disease-fighting properties, making them an ideal snack throughout the year.
There are several ways to enjoy sweet potatoes. They can be added to casseroles or desserts, or they can be consumed by themselves.
While sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes are similar in calorie, carbohydrate, and fiber content, the former is used as an alternative to the latter. When regular potatoes are fried, the amount of salt and calories they contain increases. The finished product may put you at risk for cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and stroke. This does not happen in sweet potatoes.
There are over 400 varieties of sweet potatoes, and each varies in skin and flesh color. This is often an indicator of the existence of potent antioxidants like beta-carotene and anthocyanins.
The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
The deep orange flesh in some varieties of sweet potatoes signifies the existence of beta-carotene, a carotenoid antioxidant. Carotenoids act as natural pigments and are responsible for the vibrant colors of foods and vegetables.
Beta-carotene can help quench free radicals that damage your cells and tissues, a process that can accelerate aging and trigger inflammation. This pigment can also support your immune function and help protect you against heart disease and cancer.
Beta-carotene from foods can convert to retinol or vitamin A when inside your body. When you take vitamin A orally, there is a risk of toxicity. However, obtaining it through beta-carotene conversion from foods such as sweet potatoes is considered safe, as your body has to regulate its production. Vitamin A can promote healthy vision and eliminate acne-causing germs.
Purple-colored sweet potatoes are rich in another type of pigments called anthocyanins. These antioxidants are associated with reduced cancer risk. More specifically, studies show that they help inhibit stomach, lung, colon, and breast cancer cell growth.
While orange sweet potatoes also have cancer-fighting properties, purple sweet potatoes have a more potent anti-carcinogenic action because they contain cyanidins and peonidins, two other compounds that help suppress cancer cell growth.
The anti-cancer compounds of sweet potatoes can also reduce the damage that heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, and arsenic can cause. People who wish to reduce their exposure to these toxins, along with those with digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, can benefit most from this.
Apart from having cancer-fighting compounds, sweet potatoes may also help prevent inflammation in the brain and nerve tissues due to their outstanding blend of nutrients. These root vegetables are also a great source of vitamins C and B5, niacin, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.
How to Prepare a Sweet Potato for Maximum Benefits
Despite the many nutrients packed in sweet potatoes, the method of cooking these vegetables remains very important, as it can either nullify or enhance the food’s quality. For instance, steaming or baking sweet potatoes can increase the bioavailability of beta-carotene. On the contrary, boiling sweet potatoes can kill the beneficial compounds in the vegetable.
Nutrients are more concentrated on sweet potatoes’ flesh than their skin, and removing the skin can make the root vegetable vulnerable to oxidation-induced dark spots. It is important that, after peeling, sweet potatoes be placed in water immediately.
Because of their amazing health benefits, sweet potatoes are a recommended food for infants starting with solid food. Pureed sweet potatoes with mashed avocados and cooked peas or carrots are recommended choices.
Some nutrients in sweet potatoes, like beta-carotene, are fat-soluble and require fat to be absorbed effectively in your body. In this case, it is advised to eat them with raw butter from grass-fed cows.
I think it’s safe to say that we all know sweet potatoes are good for us, but it’s good to know the details!
Now, here’s a round-up of some great recipes!
Pinned (not tried…yet):
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes by Spoon Fork Bacon – a great alternative to regular white potatoes!
Sweet Potato Maple Vegan Beer Bread by Averie Cooks – enough said
Tried and true:
One of my very first recipes on this blog: Roasted Sweet Potatoes
If you would like me to add any sweet potato recipes to this round-up, just leave me a link in the comments section! I’d be more than happy to give people props for their great recipes! 😉
Have a wonderful day!
About the Author – Adrienne and Mercola.com
Adrienne blogs about health foods and is currently researching about the benefits of sweet potatoes. To get up-to-date health information, she subscribes to online resources like the Mercola natural health newsletter.