Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many parts of the world. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.
Some people use the terms “sweet potato” and “yam” interchangeably. However, they are not related. Yams have a drier texture and a more starchy content than sweet potato.
It is important to incorporate sweet potato into the diet.
Sweet potato may offer a variety of health benefits. Here are some of the ways in which you may benefit a person’s health:
Improve insulin sensitivity: Researchers in a recent study found that an extract of white skinned sweet potato improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
Earlier, in 2000, laboratory rats consumed either white skinned sweet potato or an insulin sensitizer, called troglitazone, for 8 weeks. The levels of insulin resistance improved in those that consumed the sweet potato.
Maintains healthful blood pressure levels: The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage consumption potassium-rich foods to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. A 124 g serving of mashed sweet potato provides 259 milligrams (mg) of potassium (mg), or around 5 per cent of the daily requirements for an adult. Current guidelines recommend that adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium per day.
Reducing risk of cancer: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Beta-carotene. This is a plant pigment that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Beta-carotene is also a provitamin. The body converts it into the active form of vitamin A.
Improve digestion and regularity: The fiber content in sweet potatoes can help prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Also, multiple studies have linked high dietary fiber intake with a reduced risk of colorectal cancers.
Protect eye health: As mentioned above, sweet potatoes are a good source of provitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. After the age of 18, the Dietary Guidelines recommend an intake of 700 mg of vitamin A per day for women and 900 mg per day for men. Vitamin A is important for protecting eye health.
Boost immunity: One 124g serving of sweet potato provides 12.8 mg of vitamin C. Current guidelines recommend a daily intake of 75 mg of vitamin C for adult women and 90 mg for adult men. A person who consumes little or no vitamin C can develop scurvy.
Reduce inflammation: A rodent study from 2017 suggests that an extract of purple sweet potato color may help reduce the risk of inflammation and obesity. Sweet potatoes contain choline, a nutrient that helps with muscle movement, learning, and memory. It also supports the nervous system.