Tuesday, October 23, 2012

five awesome benefits of sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are inexpensive and nutritious. Commonly labeled as yams (although they are not the same), sweet potatoes are a great addition to your diet needs and offer superior benefits to your health and weight control efforts. Here are some of the benefits of sweet potatoes: 

Good for the heart Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B6 which helps the heart by protecting the arteries and blood vessels. Vitamin B6 inhibits the buildup of homocysteine, keeping arteries and blood vessels healthy by allowing the blood to flow freely.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in potassium that helps reduce blood pressure by eliminating excess sodium build up, promoting fluid balance. Your body needs potassium, an electrolyte, to keep natural heart rhythm and promote normal central nervous system function.

Rich in fiber Sweet potatoes contain more than twice the fiber content of other types of potatoes. It can contain as much 7 grams of fiber and is a great addition to any meal. High-fiber foods help you control your weight better because they burn more slowly and efficiently compared to low-fiber foods.

Sweet potatoes have both soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers form a gel and slow digestion down. It delays the emptying of your stomach which makes you feel full longer. It helps control weight, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and lowers LDL cholesterol.

Insoluble fibers benefit the digestive system by providing a laxative effect and adding bulk to your diet. They remain relatively intact as they pass through the digestive tract, speeding up the passage of food and waste through the gut.

Rich in Vitamin A Also known beta carotene, vitamin A is an important antioxidant. A medium-sized sweet potato contains more than enough of your daily vitamin A needs. It helps the body fight off many forms of cancer.

It also protects the skin from sun damage. Eating the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A helps increase the skin's resistance to harmful UV rays. It helps repair the damage done by excessive sun exposure. It is also excellent for eye health, preventing vision loss and macular degeneration.

Source of Manganese Manganese is an important trace mineral needed for proper carbohydrate metabolism, promoting healthy blood sugar balance. It helps suppress your appetite to prevent you from overeating.

Manganese is also a cofactor in enzymes needed in chemical reactions for energy and antioxidant utilization. It is also used to treat anemia and severe premenstrual symptoms.

Provides Vitamins C and E Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and E. Both are antioxidants that play a vital role in preventing many diseases and contribute to longevity.

Vitamins C and E are important components in skin and hair beauty products. Sweet potatoes, being rich in vitamins A, C, and E help in keeping us healthy inside and outside.

How to prepare sweet potatoes Here are some of the healthy ways you can prepare your sweet potatoes:

  • Bake on a sheet at 400°F oven for 40-60 minutes. 
  • Boil or steam, peeled or unpeeled; 5 min for small-sized and 30 min for medium-sized. 
  • Add to soups and stews. 

Simon Bukai is the President of VISTA Health Solutions, an online health insurance marketplace aimed at finding affordable health care solutions for individuals, small business owners and the self employed.

photo: Albert Cahalan


Robin said...

I signed up for making sweet potatoes for our "thanksgiving at work" potluck in November. Any ideas how to make them a little special, without too much work? I think some of my colleagues expect marshmallows, but they won't be getting those! Thanks.

Mira Dessy said...

I've made sweet potato balls before. They're really delicious and a better treat than with marshmallows.

Cook the sweet potatoes, mash them with some orange juice, cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg.

Roll the mixture into balls.

In a separate bowl mix together shredded, unsulfured coconut and a little sucanat.

Roll the balls into the coconut mixture (I usually do this in a pie pan, put the balls into the pie pan and just spoon the coconut mixture over them)

Bake 350 for about 15 minutes, until the coconut just starts to brown.

This is fairly simple and even with rolling doesn't take too long, depending on how many potatoes you decide to do.