If you’re a fan of potato and tend to binge eat potato-based dishes, you might have heard that sweet potato is a healthier alternative. The humble sweet potato is not only as delicious as a potato but also healthier. Commonly mistaken for yam, sweet potato is a nutritional powerhouse with several health benefits. Here are some of them.
1. Boosts Immunity
If you frequently suffer from bouts of cold, fever or joint pain, you might want to include sweet potato in your daily diet. Sweet potato is one of the richest sources of vitamin C, which boosts immunity and keeps diseases at bay. By reducing cell damage due to oxidation, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and protects you from falling prey to harmful microbes and toxins. In fact, studies believe that foods rich in vitamin C can lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and an increased lifespan.1
While local inflammation helps in the healing of wounds, it’s chronic inflammation that we’re concerned about. Chronic inflammation can lead to conditions ranging from digestive disorders and rheumatoid arthritis to certain cancers. Sweet potato possesses anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its high levels of vitamin A.2 3
3. Keeps Your Eye Healthy
The orange color of sweet potato is due to the presence of carotenoids, an organic pigment. Carotenoids have been observed to promote eye health and reduce your risk of eye diseases like cataracts. Since the elderly are more prone to eye disorders, it’s wise to consume sweet potato if you’re over the age of 60. It’s important to note that carotenoids are best absorbed when combined with a high-fat food. So, eat baked sweet potato alongside foods like avocados or nuts (pecans).4
4. Supports Wound-Healing
Sweet potatoes can aid wound-healing and make the process quicker, thanks to its antioxidant content. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, the main protein that skin is made of. Without vitamin C, your body might not be able to heal wounds properly.5
5. Assists Weight Loss
6. Treats Diabetes
Studies have revealed a link between potassium and diabetes. A low level of potassium in the body is believed to increase the risk of type II diabetes. Sweet potato contains a high amount of potassium, which can help manage your blood sugar levels. Fiber is another nutrient present in sweet potato that contributes to its anti-diabetic properties.7 8
7. Reduces Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure or hypertension, you’re at an increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Including high-fiber foods like sweet potato may help in the regulation blood pressure. Sweet potato is rich in magnesium and dietary fiber, both of which might reduce blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension.9 10
8. Promotes Lung Function
Boil or roast your sweet potato and sprinkle some cumin and pepper on them for added flavor. You could also add them to your salad, along with avocados and lettuce. However, if you suffer from kidney disease or kidney stones, avoid eating sweet potato as it could aggravate the condition.
|↑1||Padayatty, Sebastian J., Arie Katz, Yaohui Wang, Peter Eck, Oran Kwon, Je-Hyuk Lee, Shenglin Chen et al. “Vitamin C as an antioxidant: evaluation of its role in disease prevention.” Journal of the American college of Nutrition 22, no. 1 (2003): 18-35.|
|↑2||Mohanraj, Remya, and Subha Sivasankar. “Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam)-A valuable medicinal food: A review.” Journal of medicinal food 17, no. 7 (2014): 733-741.|
|↑3||Reifen, Ram. “Vitamin A as an anti-inflammatory agent.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 61, no. 3 (2002): 397-400.|
|↑5||Moores, Jane. “Vitamin C: a wound healing perspective.” British journal of community nursing 18 (2013).|
|↑6||Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.|
|↑7||Chatterjee, Ranee, Hsin-Chieh Yeh, David Edelman, and Frederick Brancati. “Potassium and risk of type 2 diabetes.” Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism 6, no. 5 (2011): 665-672.|
|↑8||How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?
|↑9||Streppel, Martinette T., Lidia R. Arends, Pieter van’t Veer, Diederick E. Grobbee, and Johanna M. Geleijnse. “Dietary fiber and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.” Archives of internal medicine 165, no. 2 (2005): 150-156.|
|↑10, ↑11||De Baaij, Jeroen HF, Joost GJ Hoenderop, and René JM Bindels. “Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease.” Physiological reviews 95, no. 1 (2015): 1-46.|