Sweet potatoes are a staple for Thanksgiving dinners, but the vegetable deserves the spotlight year-round.
Sweet potatoes contain dietary fiber, vitamins and other essential nutrients. They also offer several health benefits, such as improving digestion.
Health benefits of sweet potatoes
While some people use the terms “sweet potato” and “yam” interchangeably, the two are not related. Yams have a drier texture and are more starchy compared to sweet potatoes.
Here are some of the health benefits of sweet potatoes:
Support digestive health and bowel regularity
The dietary fiber in sweet potatoes can help prevent constipation and promote regularity, which are important for a healthy digestive tract.
Studies have also found that high dietary fiber intake can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancers.
Reduce cancer risk
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, a plant pigment that acts as a potent antioxidant. It is also a provitamin.
Your body converts beta-carotene into the active form of vitamin A.
Antioxidants may help reduce the risk of different types of cancer, including lung and prostate cancer.
Antioxidants like beta-carotene can help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. If levels of free radicals in your body get too high, cellular damage can occur. This can increase the risk of some conditions.
Obtaining antioxidants from dietary sources like sweet potatoes may help prevent diseases like cancer.
Support eye health
After the age of 18, the Dietary Guidelines recommend an intake of 700 milligrams (mg) of vitamin A per day for women and 900 mg per day for men. The vitamin is crucial for protecting eye health.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), a baked sweet potato with the skin on contains around 1,403 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, or 561 percent of the daily requirement.
Vitamin A also acts as an antioxidant. Combined with other antioxidants, it can help protect you from different health conditions.
Boost immune health
One 124-gram (g) 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.
If you consume little or no vitamin C, you can develop scurvy. Many of the symptoms of scurvy are due to tissue problems linked to impaired collagen production.
Vitamin C also supports the immune system and enhances iron absorption. A low vitamin C intake may increase your risk of iron deficiency anemia.
Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it’s best to avoid eating foods that contain high amounts of added salt. Instead, you should eat more potassium-rich foods to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
A 124 g serving of mashed sweet potato provides 259 mg of potassium or around five percent of the daily requirements for an adult. Current guidelines recommend that adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium daily.
Improve insulin sensitivity
In one 2008 study, scientists reported that an extract of white-skinned sweet potato improved insulin sensitivity in people with Type 2 diabetes.
The dietary fiber in sweet potatoes is also good for you. According to research, people who consume more fiber appear to have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
A 124 g serving of mashed sweet potato, or around half a cup, will provide 2.5 g of fiber.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that adults aged 19 years and above consume 22.4 to 33.6 g of fiber each day, depending on their age and sex. (Related: Support healthy blood sugar levels with this delicious sweet potato and pumpkin soup.)
Cooking with sweet potatoes
When buying and cooking sweet potatoes, always check if the potato is firm with smooth, taut skin. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place for no longer than three to five weeks.
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and creamy. Roasting sweet potatoes will bring out their natural flavor so you can eat them without toppings.
Other ways to incorporate sweet potatoes into a balanced diet include adding roasted sweet potatoes and pecans to a salad and topping it with balsamic vinegar.
You can also add sweet potato to pancakes or hash browns.
Try these tasty and healthy sweet potato recipes for Thanksgiving:
- Chicken and rice soup
- Chipotle chili
- Roasted sweet potato fries
- Savory sweet potato casserole
- Spicy kimchi-sweet potato fritters
- Sweet potato chips
- Sweet potato hummus
- Sweet potato loaf cake with dark chocolate ganache
- Sweet potato pecan pie
Eat a variety of nutritious foods and incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet to boost your intake of vitamin A and dietary fiber.
Visit Veggie.news to read more articles about the health benefits of sweet potatoes and other vegetables.
Watch the video below to learn how sweet potatoes can lower cancer risk.
This video is from the Natural News channel on Brighteon.com.