It may come as a surprise to some of you that sweet potatoes are actually great for your body although their name suggests that they are a silent starchy and sugary timebomb.
Sweet potatoes are delicious and nutritious root vegetables that are so often soft and creamy enough to be utilised as an ingredient in several dessert recipes, such as in pies, puddings and cupcakes. Well, more than just a versatile dessert ingredient, scientists have discovered that sweet potatoes are among the best sources of vitamins and essential minerals, including vitamin A and B5, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and carotenoids, just to name a few.
In addition, sweet potatoes not only contain a chock-full of nutrients but are also loaded with medicinal benefits. Researchers have found sweet potatoes to contain anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Here is why you should incorporate sweet potatoes in your diet.
Prevent Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is a prevalent issue, particularly in developing countries across the globe. The health consequences following a vitamin A deficiency is serious and may result in an increased mortality rate of both lactating and pregnant women and their children, dry eyes, increase in infectious morbidity and an apparent drop in resistance to infectious disease.
Sweet potatoes are extremely rich in vitamin A due to the fact that they contain high amounts of beta-carotene. This enzyme is converted into vitamin A in your liver, with every molecule of beta-carotene yielding two molecules of Vitamin A.
Improve Hair and Skin
Apart from vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also packed with vitamins C and E. Numerous studies have shown that regular intake or supplementation of vitamin E has the potential to effectively promote hair growth for those who are suffering from hair loss as it contains antioxidant properties that aids in minimising oxidative stress, which is the root cause of alopecia.
Vitamin C, on the other hand, has been widely known to be an effectual dermatological treatment that is often used in the remedy of hyperpigmentation and photoaging. It is also effective at neutralising the oxidative stress instigated by UV light exposure and is highly essential in the synthesis of collagen, which is the fundamental protein structure of the skin.
Several studies have also confirmed the vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory properties, which means that the vitamin can effectively manage skin diseases like acne and accelerates the healing of wounds on the skin. Additionally, the potent combination of vitamin C and E is also believed to possess the ability to minimise the risk of skin cancer among individuals.
Manage Stress Levels
Sweet potatoes are chock-full of magnesium, an essential mineral for your body to function normally. One of the glaring benefits of magnesium is that it aids in lowering your stress and anxiety levels. Comprehensive studies have proven that magnesium deficiency in modern diets has resulted in a dramatic increase in the cases of depression globally. For instance, several studies have revealed that magnesium deficiency proliferates depression in women who are experiencing premenstrual symptoms. Furthermore, magnesium has been reported to moderate insomnia in older individuals. Insomnia is one of the main causes of stress, anxiety and depression.
Numerous studies have revealed that the yellow-, some purple-, fleshed sweet potato is particularly effective in the battle against cancer. This variation of the sweet potato contains nutritional elements that are competent in impeding the growth of specific cancers, such as colon, gastric and breast cancer, by stimulating the cell death of these cancer cells. The root vegetable’s high anthocyanin content is believed to be the rationale behind sweet potato’s anti-cancer activity when it comes to breast and gastric cancers.
Other studies have conclusively proven that extracts from the different parts of sweet potato can also eliminate prostate cancer cells, ensuring that cancer does not cultivate and spread to other parts of the prostate. Researchers attributed this anti-cancer property of sweet potato to its high polyphenol content, making it an ideal food source in controlling prostate cancer.
Minimise Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
More often than not, oxidation in the body leads to several health complications such as atherosclerosis, which in turn, can bring about the development of a number of cardiovascular diseases. Leaf extracts from sweet potatoes were tested and subsequently found to contain high levels of polyphenols that are able to repress oxidation in the human body. The sifting activity and the high levels of polyphenol content in sweet potato contribute to its antioxidant properties and effectively aids in minimising the risk of one developing cardiovascular disease.
In addition, sweet potatoes were also found to contain soluble dietary fibres, which have been strongly associated with minimising the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well.
Incorporating sweet potato into your diet can bring about numerous health benefits in the long run and there are many ways to turn them into delicious bites for your taste buds to savour. Try baking, mashing and folding them into overnight oats blend them into a smoothie. Mashed sweet potatoes also make a flavoursome addition to desserts, from puddings to brownies, and of course, the classic sweet potato pie.