Sweet potatoes are cute. They are sweet(obviously), starchy root vegetables that are cultivated across the globe. And as happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, so do these sweet potatoes such as orange, white, and purple. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
Their popularity is evident from the fact that their popularity has skyrocketed in just the last two decades. From being unknown vegetables to dominating the vegetable industry, they have really come a long way. This increasing demand can be traced down to their widespread availability, affordability, and versatility. Things just do not end there. Today, we would look at some of the most significant health benefits that these sweet potatoes provide us with. How sweet of them!
Here are the health benefits stating why Sweet potatoes should be in your diet right now:
They are in the ‘five-a-day’ family
You might be surprised to know, but as per registered dietitian Helen Bond, “Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes aren’t lower in calories or carbohydrates than white potatoes. One medium sweet potato (weighing 238g raw) provides 217 calories and 48g carbohydrates, while the same-sized raw white potato comes in slightly lower at 201 calories and 43g carbohydrates.”
However, what makes sweet potatoes special is that they provide extra nutritional value. Unlike the usual white potatoes, they can be counted in your ‘five-a-day’ fruit and vegetable plan.
Rich in Beta-carotene
It is crucial to maintain an optimum Beta-carotene level as it gets converted to vitamin A by our body. It’s highly powerful antioxidant properties make it all the more critical for a healthy immune system while also making it beneficial for skin and eyes. The pigment is responsible for giving orange vegetables their vibrant color.
As per Helen Bond, “Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources. In fact, a medium-sized one will provide nearly double your vitamin A needs for the day.” However, you should be cautious not to overdo it as Clare Thornton-Wood, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, suggests, “Eating too many beta-carotene- rich vegetables (such as carrots or butternut squash) can result in carotinaemia, where your skin takes on an orange tinge.”
Full of fiber
Studies have revealed that a medium-sized sweet potato contains 5.1g of fiber than 4.8g found in a white one. Hence, they are an excellent source to achieve the recommended ’30g a day of fibers target.’ It is to be noted that fiber plays a large role in healthy digestion and maintains it in a healthy state. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, bowel cancer, and diabetes.
As per a report by Harvard Health School, “on average, American adults eat 10 to 15 grams of total fiber per day, while the USDA’s recommended daily amount for adults up to age 50 is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Women and men older than 50 should have 21 and 30 daily grams, respectively.”
Taking care of your Vitamin C needs
What’s the most common source of Vitamin C you, according to you? Citrus fruits and berries, right? But did you know that a single sweet potato can supply half of your Vitamin C’s daily requirement? Well, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of that cold-busting and immunity-boosting Vitamin C (which we need now more than ever). As per Helen Bond. “A medium orange provides 83mg vitamin C, while a sweet potato gives you 55mg, which is pretty high. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, helping to protect the body’s cells from damage. It also helps your body make collagen, needed for healthy skin, teeth, and gums.”
Sweeter but have a lower GI
We all know that Carbohydrate-containing foods or ‘carbs’ are given a rating on their glycaemic index (GI) from 0 to 100. This is the scale to measure how quickly these carbohydrates infested food items can impact your blood sugar level. The ones having a lower GI take a long while to be digested to release their energy eventually.
The motive is to give a full stomach sensation and make you eat less in the long run. Raw sweet potatoes stand at a GI level of 61 while their counterparts, the white potatoes, are at 82. However, the US dietary supplement firm, Myprotein reports, “It’s always important to keep in mind that these scores are based on fasted blood sugar levels, meaning if you were to eat your potatoes with other veggies and meat, the spike on your blood sugar will be significantly lower.”
Here is another interesting finding from My protein about the GI levels of the two forms of potatoes and how it impacts our sugar levels, “A regular baked white potato has a GI score of 111, which ranks even higher than pure glucose. But the lesser-known number is that of the sweet potato, which has a GI score of 94 when baked and will theoretically still skyrocket your blood sugar levels almost as much as white potatoes.”
Combining sweet potato with the right food items can amplify its nutritional values. Helen Bond further says, “If you add some fat or eat a sweet potato alongside protein, you’ll reduce the GI further because it will take longer to digest.”
Our food habits are often based on what we have been eating traditionally, and since sweet potatoes have arrived at the scene relatively late, people are still unaware of their wonders. So, make them a part of your diet today and move towards a healthier lifestyle. Happy eating!