Sweet potato is a root vegetable which is light brown in color. The color of the skin varies and can be found in yellow, orange, brown, beige etc. The varieties with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet when compared to the red, pink, or orange flesh. The origin of this root vegetable is supposed to be in Central or South America before 5000 years ago, but in terms of production, China is the leader and contributes about 80% of the total world supply. Sweet potato is an unavoidable ingredient in the major dishes of Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines etc.
The health benefits of sweet potato are not known to all. This humble root vegetable is rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and beta carotene. Sweet potato is a good food for diabetes type 2. It has been observed that people with type 2 diabetes have lower levels of adiponectin. Sweet potatoes’ extracts helps in increasing the levels of adiponectin in such people. This will help in reducing the blood sugar levels to great extent and hence can be included in the diet of diabetes patients in spite of its sweet taste.
Health benefits of sweet potatoes includes their anti-oxidant properties as well. Sweet potatoes are not only advisable for diabetes patients but also for babies who are starting the consumption of solid foods. These are filled with lots of nutrients. According to recent surveys and research, it has been observed that sweet potatoes figure in the list of least contaminated foods available in the market.
While selecting the sweet potatoes to make baby food, care should be taken to choose unbruised ones and the ones without soft spots. As mentioned earlier sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B6. B6 helps in the reduction of chemical homocysteine in the body, thus reducing degenerative diseases. This also will help in prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in blood cell formation, teeth and bone formation, digestion etc. This helps in healing of wounds quickly. Thus sweet potatoes also helps in maintain skin’s youthful elasticity. Sweet potatoes also help in fighting toxins that might cause cancer. The rich fiber content is also helpful in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and regular bowel movements, prevention of constipation etc.
Resin glycosides is another major nutrient of sweet potato. These are sugar related and starch related molecules and also has non-carbohydrate molecules.
Health benefits of sweet potatoes does not end with these. This also has antifungal and antibacterial properties. The health benefits of this vegetable also may differ from the methods of cooking. The best way to retain the nutrients is boiling this vegetable. Boiling the sweet potatoes and using it as a major diet supplement can do wonders to health.
Intake of boiled sweet potatoes can help in the reduction of blood sugar levels and also increase levels of vitamin A in the body, but this is most beneficial when it is boiled than the roasted or fried ones.
This vegetable is easily available in almost all parts of the world. Not many people are fully aware of its nutritive content and qualities. Hence, a healthy diet should definitely include root vegetables like the sweet potatoes.