Sweet potato, not only is just sweet to your taste buds but also good for your cardiovascular health. This starchy root vegetable is rich source of flavonoid anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that are essential for optimal health.
Not only are sweet potatoes readily available, inexpensive, and delicious, there are many other reasons to love these yummy vegetables.
- The tubers are packed with many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), (Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies, Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including the prevention of heart attacks) and thiamin (vitamin B-1), niacin, and riboflavin. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. These vitamins function as co-factors for various enzymes during metabolism
- Sweet potato is one of the average calorie starch foods (provide just 90 calories/100 g vs. 70 calories/100 g of potato). The tuber, however, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and is rich source of dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- They are a good source of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that this crucial vitamin plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity, and is essential to helping us cope with stress. It even appears to help protect our body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.
- They contain Vitamin D which is critical for immune system and overall health at this time of year. Vitamin D is primarily made in our bodies as a result of getting adequate sunlight. Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the thyroid gland.
- Sweet potatoes contain iron. Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.
- Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function. They are a source of potassium, one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.
- Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.
- The tuber is an excellent source of flavonoid phenolic compounds such as beta-carotene and vitamin A (100 g tuber provides 14187 IU of vitamin A and 8509 µg of β-carotene). The value is one of the highest among the root-vegetables categories. These compounds are powerful natural antioxidants. Vitamin A is also required by the body to maintain integrity of healthy mucus membranes and skin. It is a vital nutrient for acuity of vision. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Try them roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with a side dish of Roasted Peppers and Seasonal Vegetables. Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods