Sweet potato (Ipomea batata) is an amazing root tuber vegetable that is packed full with surprising nutritious and health benefits. The sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetable, the sweet taste of sweet potato is as a result of its content of starch. When sweet potatoes are heated, an enzyme starts breaking down their starch into a sugar called maltose. Maltose is not as sweet as table sugar but when you consume it your taste bud will enjoy the sweet taste. They contain more natural sugar than the regular potatoes but have more nutrients and fewer calories.
Sweet potatoes have have thin, brown skin on the outside with colored flesh inside which could be orange (most common), white, purple or yellow. You can eat sweet potatoes whole or peeled, and the leaves of the plant are could be eaten as vegetable also.
Sweet potatoes have high content of fiber as well as contains a large collections of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, selenium. One cup (200 grams) of baked sweet potato with skin provides gives :
- Calories: 180
- Carbs: 41.4 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Fiber: 6.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 769% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 65% of the DV
- Manganese: 50% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 29% of the DV
- Potassium: 27% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid: 18% of the DV
- Copper: 16% of the DV
- Niacin: 15% of the DV
One of the major nutritional benefits of sweet potato is that they have rich content of beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A once eaten.
Below are the health benefits of sweet potato
1.It to help manage stress levels
Sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for normal body functioning . One of the most important benefits of magnesium is that it helps reduce stress and anxiety .
In addition, magnesium has been found to reduce insomnia in older individuals . Insomnia is a trigger for stress, depression, and anxiety, which is unfortunate as more than 50% of elderly people suffer from some form of lack of sleep.
2. It helps to prevent Vitamin A deficiency
Potato has high content of vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A can lead to resistance to infectious disease, increase in infectious diseases, dry eyes as well increased death for both pregnant and lactating women and their children. Sweet potatoes are an extremely important source of Vitamin A because they contain high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in our livers, with every molecule of beta-carotene producing two molecules of Vitamin A.
3. It contains anti-inflammatory activity
Sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of vitamins, most of which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies carried out on the purple sweet potato have conclusively shown that the extracts from the vegetable variant had the capability of inhibiting the production of active inflammatory components in the body. Also, sweet potatoes have a high concentration of choline which is a very competent nutrient. One of the main benefits of choline is that it reduces inflammatory responses in the body resulting in less inflammation.
4. It can help protect against ulcers
Sweet potatoes have high phytosterol content that makes it to have a protective effect on the digestive system and may be important in the prevention and management of duodenal and gastric ulcers, including those due to NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac).
5. It helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Oxidation in the body results in complications such as atherosclerosis, which in turn can lead to the development of a number of chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases. Sweet potatoes have been found to contains high levels of polyphenols and vitamins which are able to reduce oxidation in humans, reducing the chances of development of cardiovascular disease. Also, sweet potatoes contain soluble dietary fibers, which have been strongly connected to reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases like hypertension.
6. It contains antimicrobial properties
Some research have shown that sweet potato does have some level of antimicrobial activity . The fiber in sweet potatoes has also been shown to prevent the growth of food borne bacteria.
7. It can help to increase fertility
The high doses of Vitamin A in sweet potatoes makes the vegetable ideal for consumption by women of childbearing age to increase their fertility. Research have shown that Vitamin A plays an important role in improving reproductive performance.
Sweet potatoes also contain a healthy dose of iron , which is an important mineral in promoting fertility in women of childbearing age. Reports has shown that iron deficiency can cause of infertility among women . Other studies have found that an increase in dietary iron intake reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility.
8. It can help in weight regulation
Sweet potatoes contain soluble and fermentable fiber that increase satiety and offers the body a natural, self-sustaining mechanism for body weight regulation. Studies have shown that one of the major soluble dietary fibers in sweet potatoes, pectin, is effective at reducing food intake , reducing weight gain, and also increasing the activity of satiety hormones in the body. An increase in consumption of sweet potatoes will lead to an increase in fiber intake, which will in turn, lead to a lower body weight.
9. Sweet potatoes are good for digestion
Sweet potatoes contain large amounts of fibers, which have long been known for improving the health of the gut as well as digestion. The high fiber content of the sweet potatoes can also help in preventing constipation in both children and adults. The insoluble fibers can also be fermented by the bacteria in your colon, this creates compounds called short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells of your intestinal lining and keep them healthy and strong.
10. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
Sweet potatoes offer various antioxidants, which may help protect against certain types of cancers. Anthocyanins , a group of antioxidants found in purple sweet potatoes have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells including those of the bladder, colon, stomach, and breast. Fiber rich diets containing 20–33 grams per day have been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer and more regular bowel movements.
Potatto can be added to diet via baking, roasting or as a salad. Sweet potato should not be eaten raw especially the green ones because they contain the toxic enzyme solanine, which can lead to solanine poisoning. Solanine poisoning presents with symptoms such as hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils, hypothermia, and death have been reported.