The sweet potato is not as popular as in days past, but is still one of the most nutritious vegetables available. Learn the health benefits of eating sweet potatoes.
Because of their nutritional value, sweet potatoes were once a staple in the American diet. Over the years, sweet potatoes have become less prominent on the dinner table and typically only eaten on holidays; however, the sweet potato is still the same nutritional powerhouse as it was hundreds of years ago. Not only are sweet potatoes low in calories, low in Glycemic Load, and have zero fat, the sweet potato is also rich in health boosting antioxidants, fiber, and essential minerals.
Antioxidants in Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain more than twice the amount of beta-carotene than most fruits and vegetables. Two-thirds cup of sweet potatoes provides 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin E, and one sweet potato offers 65 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. The beta carotene and vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes work as antioxidants to neutralize free radicals that damage cells. These antioxidants slow the aging process, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of developing cataracts, heart disease, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
The sweet potato is also a rich source of the phytonutrients quercetin and chlorogenic and caffeic acids. These phytonutrients work to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, increase energy, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Chlorogenic acid may also help reduce insulin resistance.
Essential Minerals Found in Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in essential minerals such as:
- Copper — helps the body store iron and plays a role in maintaining healthy joints and supple skin;
- Manganese — plays a role in bone formation and metabolism of energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats;
- Magnesium — works in the body to produce energy, make protein, and signals muscles to relax and contract;
- Phosphorous — helps generate energy; is a major component of bones and teeth, second only to calcium; promotes cell growth and repair;
- Potassium — ensures proper hydration by helping to maintain proper electrolyte balance in the body and is need for brain function.
The Sweet Potato is Rich in Fiber
One medium sweet potato provides 4 grams of fiber, which is just as much fiber as one serving of oats. The fiber found in sweet potatoes plays a role in weight loss or maintenance, preventing heart disease, managing blood sugar, and promotes healthy bowel functioning.