Whether you bake them, mash them, fry them or transform them into a beautiful sweet potato pie, this starchy superstar is a delicious treat and has become a sentimental staple at Thanksgiving dinners. The good news is that sweet potatoes are actually very nutritious as well as being exceptionally delicious.
Don’t let the ‘sweet’ in sweet potatoes scare you!
They actually have a lower glycemic index then white potatoes. That means they are less likely to produce insulin resistance and its accompanying health problems, including weight gain. Sweet potatoes are a smart carb, very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C, potassium, iron and fiber. They provide a wealth of health benefits and are a great addition to your meals.
Did you know that sweet potatoes were cultivated and consumed before the white (Irish) potato?
Read on and discover the 13 Surprising Health Benefits of the amazing Sweet Potato!
1. Maintains Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Yes, sweet potatoes are sweet, but they have a low glycemic index meaning the sugar is released slowly into the bloodstream. Most consumed starchy foods raise blood sugar rapidly; with sweet potato you will not get a blood sugar spike, but you will get a steady amount of energy.
2. Treatment for Diabetes
A study of 61 people with type 2 diabetes saw that those who took the extract, Caiapo, from the sweet potato daily for 3 months had their blood sugar drop with no significant adverse effects.
Caiapo has been used without medical prescription for years in Japan as a food additive for prevention and as a treatment for diabetes.
3. Immune System is Strengthened
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C, Beta Carotene and vitamin E that support a healthy immune system and are powerful disease fighting antioxidants.
4. Helps Keep the Heart Healthy
They are a great source of B6 vitamins, which break down homocysteine, a substance that contributes to the hardening of blood vessels and arteries.
Also, being a good source of potassium, they help the heart by lowering blood pressure. Potassium is also an important electrolyte that helps regulate your heartbeat.
5. Reduce the Chances of Stomach Ulcers
The sweet potato had a potent ulcer healing effect!
6. Good for Weight Loss
Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, which slows down digestion so you eat less. This also helps with regular bowel movements.
7. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Purple Sweet Potato
The extract of the purple sweet potato to be anti-inflammatory.
Sweet Potatoes are High in Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A)
1 cup Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin = 769 percent daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free radicals believed to contribute to some chronic diseases.
Beta-Carotene also Helps with the Following:
8. Creates Healthy Skin, Hair, Teeth and Bones
9. Promotes Good Vision because it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye.
10. Helps with Anti-aging
11. Cancer Prevention. It is best for the beta-carotene to come from real food as the supplements don’t seem to reduce cancer risk. Beta-carotene may reduce the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
12. Decreases Asthma Symptoms Caused by Exercise.
13. May Help Protect Against Sun Damage.
The History Behind the Sweet Potato
- Sweet potatoes have been grown in Central and South America for at least 10,000 years by the Inca and Aztecs. Sweet potato samples have been found in the Neolithic Period and perhaps to the end of the last Ice Age, or 8000 B.C. in Peru.
- Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes to Spain after his first voyage in 1492 introducing them to the gardens of Europe.
- History mystery: Polynesians were growing sweet potatoes as early as 1200 A.D.
- Spanish explorers are said to have taken the sweet potato to the Philippines and East Indies. Then they made their way to India, China and Malaya by Portuguese voyagers in the late 16th century and the 17th and 18th centuries.
- They were grown in Virginia in 1648 and perhaps earlier, and then were taken to New England in 1764.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Sweet potatoes were eaten as aphrodisiacs in Europe, likely because they were a delicacy.
- Latin America Indians make a red dye from the mixed juices of limes and sweet potatoes.
- In Japan’s mountainous region, Kagawa, white sweet potatoes eaten raw has long been a traditional treatment for anemia, hypertension and diabetes.
- George Washington Carver developed glue for postage stamps, wood fillers, more than 73 dyes, rope, breakfast cereal, synthetic silk, shoe polish and molasses. He wrote several brochures on the nutritional value of sweet potatoes.
- North Carolina produces about 40 percent of the U.S. supply.
- Sweet potatoes are roots, not tubers like regular potatoes.
- A sweet potato festival called Tater Day Festival is held in Benton, Kentucky on the first Monday of April, annually.