Is Sweet Potato Healthy Enough to Include in Our Diet?
Is sweet potato healthy enough to be considered as one of the best weight loss foods? What are the health benefits it offers us to be in good shape and healthy? Why is sweet potato nutrition better than your average starchy vegetable?
Is sweet potato healthy as a root crop vegetable? Yes, it is one of the root crops that serve many purposes. The appearance of the sweet potato comes in different shapes and color. The covering layer of the plant is brown and thin. The flesh inside can be in different colors—white, purple, yellow, or orange. The parts of the sweet potato plant are edible, unlike your regular potato which has poisonous leaves. Therefore, you can make recipes from the roots and leaves.
Sweet potato offers vitamins and nutrients. You can have sweet potato proteins and the unique phytonutrients like polysaccharide. The proteins you can get are called sporamins, which have antioxidant properties. Also, you can get vitamin A from sweet potato as beta-carotene.
Other nutrients that you can get from sweet potato are B vitamins, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. With this, you can have sweet potato as one of your diet food. The health benefits of sweet potatoes can be acquired in a single cup serving. For example, sweet potato offers 438% of vitamin A that our body needs daily. You can get up to 30% B vitamins and 25% potassium of the daily-recommended amount.
As to your diet needs, sweet potato can provide a quarter of fiber you need in a day. Also, if you consume the medium size, you can have 103 sweet potato calories and almost 24 grams carbohydrates.
Indeed, sweet potato is not a complicated food but excellent food for your weight loss program. It is a simple yet reliable food source of many vitamins and minerals.
Now, let us briefly point out the classification of sweet potato. The significance of these facts is for us to understand better our question – are sweet potato healthy to consume?
Variety of Sweet Potato
Is sweet potato healthy with different varieties? Sweet potato can be categorized according to its flesh color variations. You can have yellow-orange, white, and purple sweet potato. Even that they are classified differently, the nutrients and health benefits that they offer are almost the same.
The most common sweet potatoes are those of yellow-orange flesh color. Its color has significance because of the beta-carotene or vitamin A it possesses. According to various studies, there are about 100-1600 micrograms of vitamin A in 99 grams of sweet potato. It is equivalent to 35% to 90% vitamin A to sustain our body.
On the other hand, the purple-flesh variety is a good source of anthocyanins, one of the flavonoids with antioxidant. Also, it comes with anti-inflammatory properties that promote our digestive system. An adequate amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory can reduce the risk of health problems. It can eliminate and prevent the spreading of free radicals and harmful chemicals.
According to a study, the purple sweet potatoes have 3.2 higher antioxidant compared to other berries. Including the flesh and skin of a sweet potato, it can offer antioxidants. If you use sweet potato leaves for cooking, you can also have enough supply of antioxidants.
If you are wondering about the similarities between the purple sweet potatoes and the purple yam, then wait no further.
They are different in all angles. Though yam is also a root crop, it has very different characteristics as compared to the purple sweet potato. Yam comes from the West African term ‘nyami,’ which means to eat. Yam is commonly grown in African and Asian countries. Once grown, you can harvest them at a larger size than any sweet potato.
Sweet Potato Health Benefits
Is sweet potato healthy considering as part of your meal plan? Then you can have the most amazing nutritional value in a very simple healthy food. However, some things need to be cleared for us to understand the health benefits of sweet potatoes fully.
Keeping your blood sugar level normal
For instance, we always need to eat healthy food that can regulate our blood sugar for us to maintain its average level. You can try the white sweet potato to promote insulin sensitivity.
For us to use all the sugar we intake, we need to have sufficient insulin that can instruct our cells to absorb and process the glucose in our blood. The improvement of insulin will help normalize this process. Given this, sweet potatoes promote the average level of blood sugar.
According to a study, sweet potato has anti-diabetic properties. Caiapo is a type of white sweet potato that offers these properties. In the study, a group of people with high blood sugar levels provided with four grams of caiapo. After six months of daily consumption of caiapo, their blood sugar levels have been reduced.
It proves that sweet potato plays a significant role to keep our blood sugar level reasonable. Keep in mind that sweet potatoes have high fiber contents. Fiber’s significance in our health is to absorb the sugar content of the food that affects our insulin sensitivity. You can have an adequate amount of fiber from sweet potato. Medium size can have 15% of the fiber you need daily.
Fights early warnings of Chronic Diseases
As mentioned earlier in this article, sweet potato is rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential compounds that promote nutrients at the cellular level. It keeps the damaged cells away from the healthy ones to lower the risk of diseases. The most common diseases that result from free radicals are diabetes, heart attack, and cancer. All of these are chronic diseases that can affect your health if they cannot prevent firsthand.
You can have a sufficient amount of antioxidants by having a purple sweet potato in your meal daily. Making it a practice can prevent early warnings of chronic diseases. Adequate amounts of antioxidants in your body can maintain your regular vision and healthy lungs. You can also have radiant skin that can protect you against infectious diseases.
Improves Cognitive Function
Purple sweet potato can also improve brain functions because of the nutrients and antioxidants it offers.
When we age, our brains will begin to have a slower performance like memory ability, focus, and reflexes. Aging is a natural process, but we can slow it down and support our brain to perform even well.
It is another health benefit of sweet potato, the purple variety. It protects our brain from further damage and boosts brain function for daily tasks.
Promotes Immunity and Fighting Mechanism against Diseases
Yellow-orange sweet potato offers the most needed vitamin to protect our body. Vitamin A plays a vital role to improve immunity and increase our fighting mechanism against diseases.
A medium-sized yellow-orange sweet potato has 438% vitamin A of the daily recommendation. Vitamin A promotes our immunity by increasing the production of immune cells in our body. The immune cells are responsible for warding off disease-causing bacteria. According to a study, having an adequate amount of vitamin A in our body can prevent the spread of damaged cells. These usually have a higher chance of becoming a tumor in our body.
Deficiency in vitamin A is connected to some death caused by complications. It means that if we have a low immunity system, we have a high possibility to have infectious diseases. It can also lead to other health problems like blindness, dry eyes, and a condition of losing vision.
Kick-off of Weight Loss Program
The most common health benefits of sweet potato are weight loss. The fiber in sweet potato aids our digestive tract to cut our cravings. It also helps us avoid snacking food between meals.
According to a study, a single cup of sweet potato can provide 6.6 grams of fiber. This is almost 26% of what our body needs in a day. The purple sweet potato had gain recognition as a weight loss champion. In a study conducted, it found out that you can lose weight and lessen the fat that your body absorbs. This result was taken after 3 months of purple sweet potato consumption.
Aside from losing weight, sweet potato is also suitable for people who are into bodybuilding. Similar to a weight loss program, bodybuilding requires healthy food that promotes slow digestion and provides long-term energy. Imagine that you will no longer need to have something to eat during between regular meals. This can be possible with the daily consumption of sweet potato.
Other benefits of Sweet Potato
The glycosides in sweet potato support our health by providing nourishment that has antibacterial and antifungal properties. These properties in sweet potatoes are beneficial for our body to fight off diseases. It can also promote the prevention of fungal infections and disease-spreading bacteria that can cause a lot of health problems.
Sweet Potato Recipes
Is sweet potato healthy when cooked? There are two categories of sweet potato when cooked. The first one is sweet potatoes that are firm and dry, while the second is soft and moist.
We cannot consume sweet potato in its raw form. It is essential that we cook it to achieve the health benefits it provides. According to a study, sweet potato nutrients especially the anthocyanins properties can be preserved through steaming. For more positive results to our blood sugar levels, you can try to roast and boil the sweet potato.
If you are making baby food, you can try using sweet potato flour. It is all natural and safe for the baby’s health. To store the flour for longer shelf life, you need to use a vacuum-sealed jar and place it in your refrigerator. The flour can be stored up to 6 months. If you will put it in your pantry, you would only have a month to use it.
One of the typical side dishes in your kitchen is mashed-potato. But, instead of using potato, you can replace it with sweet potato. You can have a new flavor, just by adding some honey and sugar. And you can enjoy it better than your ordinary mashed potato.
We know that fish and chips are one of the favorite cuisines that are very hard to ignore. With sweet potatoes, you can still keep your diet but also enjoy this food just by replacing the ordinary potato chips. In this way, you can really be sure about the nutritional value you will have with sweet potatoes.
Is sweet potato healthy to consume without side effects?
Almost all the foods that we are eating have side effects. The side effects can be caused by allergic reactions, or even unusual effects while on medications, or just by overeating it.
One of the fatal sweet potato side effects is due to medication prescribed for heart diseases. Beta-blockers can have an opposing effect on sweet potato potassium.
The effect of beta-blockers in our body with sweet potato consumption can multiply the potassium content in our blood. It will not be a problem as long as your kidneys are functioning normally. Otherwise, it can cause some serious health problems.
Also, sweet potatoes have compounds, the oxalates, which tend to crystallize when it exceeds the right amount in our body. The crystal formation of oxalates combines with calcium. It would result in kidney stones. Therefore, an excessive amount of oxalates in our body can affect the kidneys and gallbladders. The elimination of urine and other toxins from our body is important. As a result, before including sweet potatoes in your diet plan, you need to get professional medical advice. This could avoid serious health problems that may occur when you have excessive oxalates in the body.
Another side effect of sweet potato can happen if you have a sensitive stomach. The sensitive stomach can be triggered by the sweet potato’s sugar called mannitol.
Mannitol is a sugar compound of sweet potato. If you have a sensitive stomach, you will feel stomach pain after eating sweet potato. You can also experience bloating and diarrhea.
Therefore, try to eat only a small amount of sweet potato to know if you have a low tolerance for food with mannitol compounds.
Choosing and Storing of Sweet Potato
If you are now decided to have some sweet potatoes, you should at least have some knowledge in choosing for the right size that will fit your servings.
You should look for the sweet potato that has a thick and chunky form. But make sure that you still choose the medium size without bruises. The bruises of sweet potato can produce strange taste and color insides. You should also remember the type of sweet potato based on its flesh color. It is because your recipe will depend on it.
The storage of sweet potato does not require cold temperature. You can store it at room temperature, without sunlight that has good air circulation. If you will place it in your refrigerator, there is a tendency that the flesh inside will harden. Exposing sweet potato in this state can ruin the flesh. Sunlight should be avoided because it will make your sweet potato to start growing buds. You should also avoid washing the sweet potatoes if you are not going to cook it yet. The water will penetrate the inner core of the sweet potato and will shorten its shelf life.
Is sweet potato healthy for us? Indeed, sweet potato plays a big part in our health. You can easily find sweet potatoes around the corner of the market. It will not even add burden to your daily routine when you are craving for it.
The nutrients it offers targets our body to provide immunity and enough fiber. The antioxidants can boost your cells to be free of radicals. Sweet potato fiber, on the other hand, can promote proper digestion. Both of these nutrients can sustain our body to be fit and energetic with our daily tasks.
If you have kids or you just prefer to have pancakes in your meal, you can use sweet potato instead of ordinary flour. Knowing the health benefits of sweet potato, you will have no worries for the nutritional value it offers. Sweet potato carbs are lesser when compared to the instant pancakes flour being sold in the market.
Sweet potato vitamins slow down the aging of our brain. It stores cognitive function as we age. With proper nutrients for our brain, we can prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Most importantly, we give emphasize that before including sweet potato as your diet food, you need to consult with your doctor. Sweet potatoes may have many health benefits, but it still comes with some side effects if not adequately eaten. And you should not take them for granted because these can be fatal over time.
So if you still doubt if you should buy some sweet potato, and are still unsure if sweet potatoes are healthy for your family? Then worry no more because the answer is yes. It is safe to eat some as long as you cook and prepare them properly. Then again, all vegetables are safe to eat if cooked properly.