Though sweet potatoes do not get included in the regular diet pattern, they still are a complete power house of nutrition and energy. In some parts of the world they are included only during ‘Thanksgiving’.
Its plant is a creeper with heart shaped or lobed leaves. The color of sweet potatoes varies from purple or red to pale yellow or white, depending upon the variety, soil type, climate and minerals. The intensity of the flesh color is directly correlated to the antioxidant capacity and beta-carotene content.
A sweet potato does not belong to the family of potatoes at all-- potatoes are tubers whereas sweet potatoes are storage roots. However they may be sometimes shaped like a potato, round and short, but generally they are longer with tapered ends.
They are actually sweet, not only to taste, but in their nutritional values too, giving away sweet healthy benefits.
You would be surprised to discover these extraordinary benefits of sweet potato listed below.
1.It is an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. This is useful in removing the free radicals and aging cells that are potential health threats.
2.The presence of Vitamin A in sweet potato makes it an ideal food as a natural supplement of vitamins and minerals especially during the weaning phase in small children. It definitely plays a major role in combating the deficiencies of Vitamin A.
3.The presence of beta carotene makes it beneficial in skin disorders too. In fact beta carotene helps to combat the rough scaly skin during winter.
4.With all the minerals and Vitamin C present in it, sweet potato is an excellent immunity booster.
5.High vitamin C value enhances the ability to combat common cold and other infections too.
6.The fiber content is also high; which definitely solves the problems with digestion and constipation.
7.Another amazing benefit is that, a sweet potato though very sweet and rich in carbohydrates hold no threat to the diabetics and their blood glucose levels. It lowers the insulin resistance in the body and has lower glycemic index. However, they should not be consumed regularly; the idea is to replace other bad carbohydrates intake with its good carbohydrates.
8.The high concentration of beta carotene and phosphorus are excellent for ocular and cardiac health.
9.Consumption of sweet potatoes has been known to help avoid stroke, by bringing down the harmful effects of low-density cholesterol & preventing blood clots.
10.The richness in Vitamin B6 makes it a good for the heart too.
11.Smokers and people who inhale second-hand smoke should regularly consume foods high in vitamin A as smoke has been found to induce vitamin A deficiency, causing a host of other health problems to the lungs. Since sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin A, it is quite beneficial in people addicted to smoking, lowering their risk to suffer from cancer and other serious ailments like emphysema.
12.Helps in improving bone density.
13.The considerable folic acid content benefits the fetal development and placental attachment to the uterus during pregnancy.
14.The higher potassium and mineral values help to improve the electrolyte balance in the body.
15.Also the potassium present in it is of great help to the people prone to muscle cramps, especially those who do a lot of exercise or laborious work.
16.It is a very good source of carbohydrates and Vitamin B-complex, which provides lot of energy to a tired fatigued body. It can be eaten, therefore Whenever the conditions are unfavourable for a complete meal sometimes, to get maximum benefit of a balanced diet. I like to carry it roasted or boiled during short trips. It is a bulky stuff to relieve hunger especially in small children.
17. Controls weight gain. It acts a very good alternative to the heavy snacks in between meals. A quick, no fat, and more fibre rich snack goes well with the diet conscious group. Sweet potato gets digested slowly, and its bulk gives a feeling of fullness for a longer period. This helps one to control the dietary intake and weight gain as well.
18. Not only the roots, but the young leaves and vine tips of a sweet potato are also edible. they too are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C And vitamin B2.
Apart from the above nutritional benefits, there are some other benefits too which drive our attention.
19.Juice of a sweet potato with lime juice is used in the preparation of fabric dyes.
20. All parts of the plant are used as animal fodder.
21. It has a good amount of starch content, hence it is found to be used in the making of alcohol fuel in some countries.
22. The starch present is also used to prepare an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.
23. It is also widely used as a basic industrial raw material.
24. The attractive colour and foliage of sweet potato adds to the ornamental or decorative value of a garden. In fact the non-edible variety of it called the wild sweet potato vine is grown exclusively as an ornamental plant on large scale.
25. It is one the most versatile vegetable and easiest to cook. As a crop all the advantages combined give it a potential to fight against malnutrition, since it can be yielded in marginal conditions with great amount of food per unit area per unit of time.
So you know that why sweet potato is awarded as the most nutritional vegetable .Sadly, inspite of all the benefits and high nutritional values, sweet potato still remains the unsung hero, mainly due to a bit more caloric value. But, looking at the other benefits and uses in maintaining good optimum health, isn’t it fair to give the calories a pass. All you need is a proper diet plan on how and when to open this sweet little package of good health making optimum and good use of all those calories. Not a bad deal. Time to think over it.