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March 18, 2020

Reap these health benefits from eating sweet potatoes

Healthy Eating Food

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Sweet Potatoes on a Cutting Board Alexandra Williams/for PhillyVoice

Different from the white potato, which comes from the nightshade family, the sweet potato is a large, edible root from the morning glory family. While most are orange in color, you can also find sweet potatoes with purple flesh.

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and the purple variety are rich in anthocyanins. Both of these phytochemicals are thought to play a role in disease prevention. Sweet potatoes are also good sources of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and fiber.

A serving of 100 grams of sweet potato contains 1.57 grams of protein, 20.12 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 30 mg of calcium, 337 mg of potassium, 0.2358 mg of manganese, 2.4 mg of vitamin C and 0.209 mg of vitamin B6, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here are five health benefits of the sweet potato:

1. Rich in antioxidants

Sweet potatoes have high levels of antioxidants which fight free radicals that can trigger inflammation in the body. Antioxidants also help cells against aging and disease. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes can, in particular, improve gut health and help fight against cancer.

2. Good for your skin and bones

Manganese is a mineral that helps your body produce collagen and improve skin and bone health. The sweet potato is a great source for it.

3. Helps keep blood sugar levels in check

The sweet potato is also high in fiber so it won’t wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels like the white potato. This is because it slows the absorption of sugar so your blood glucose won’t spike.

4. Good for your heart

The potassium in sweet potatoes give this superfood heart-protection qualities. Not only can it help lower your blood pressure, it can help regulate your heart rhythm.

5. Improves eye health

The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes converts to vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for eye health. A vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness.

Tips for serving and storing

Always store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place and scrub the skins well before cooking.

Want to get the most health benefits out of your sweet potato dish? Boil or steam them instead of baking. This way, they won’t lose as much of all the good nutrients from the cooking process. Preparing them with a healthy oil (like olive oil) can also help you absorb more of the beta-carotene.

For people with diabetes worried about controlling their blood sugar, boiling sweet potatoes is recommended over baking them.

Just remember…this doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat as many sweet potatoes as you want. As always, strive to achieve balance by eating a variety of healthy foods.

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