Sweet potatoes, or yams to some of us, are an orange-fleshed beta-carotene powerhouse.
These babies are pretty awesome. The only time I ever really ate them was when they were in a sweet potato pie... But are they good by themselves?
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Yes, yes they are.
They take on almost any flavor you want - savory or sweet, they are really easy to prepare, and the health benefits of a sweet potato are outstanding.
Sweet potatoes have been shown to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. In many cases, this single food alone can provide all of our vitamin A in one serving.
If you are a fan of regular potatoes, I invite you to try sweet potatoes if you never have. You can prepare them the same ways you do regular potatoes, and you get to enjoy many nutritional benefits.
You know that a sweet potato has an orange flesh, but did you know that's actually beta-carotene that causes that pigment? It's actually converted into vitamin A in our bodies.
A carotenoid and antioxidant, sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene and have been shown to possibly slow cognitive decline.
While beta-carotene isn't an essential nutrient, the vitamin A that our body converts it to is.
Important Note: Vitamin A is toxic in excess. If you consume too many supplements, you can face problems.
It's an Antioxidant
Antioxidants is a substance that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. So it protects the body from free radicals.
Free radicals damage our cells through oxidation. The damage eventually can cause several chronic illnesses.
Antioxidants have been shown to lower our risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Studies show that consuming at least four daily servings of beta-carotene could have a significant impact on lowering your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Here are a few other foods rich in beta-carotene:
- Chinese Cabbage
- Dandelion Leaves
- Chilli Powder, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley
So let's get on with the nutritional facts for a sweet potato.
Nutritional Facts for a Sweet Potato
It's no surprise that these bad boys are a great addition to anyone's diet. The nutritional facts here are for one cup, or 200 grams of sweet potato.
- Calories - 180
- Total Fat - 0.3g
- Sodium - 72mg
- Potassium - 950mg
- Carbohydrates - 41.4 (34.8 net carbs due to 6.6g fiber)
- Protein - 4g
The rest of the vitamins and minerals that 200 grams of sweet potato are listed below.
Sweet Potatoes Provide Amazing Nutrition
Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, period. Here's what one cup, or 200 grams of sweet potato will give you nutritionally (all percents are of your daily recommended value):
- Vitamin A - 214%
- Vitamin C - 52%
- Manganese - 43%
- Copper - 36%
- Pantothenic Acid - 35%
- Vitamin B6 - 34%
- Biotin - 29%
- Fiber - 24%
- Potassium - 20%
- Vitamin B3 - 19%
- Vitamin B1 - 18%
- Vitamin B2 - 16%
- Phosphorus - 15%
9 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
There are many health benefits of sweet potatoes, so here's 9 that are pretty important.
1.) They Are So Versatile
Talking like Bubba Gump, you can have roasted sweet potatoes, steamed, pureed, baked, or grilled.
You can have sweet potato pie, soup, stew, or grill them.
2.) They Help Fight Cancer and Aging
The high carotenoids (beta-carotene) is a precursor to vitamin A. They help our eyesight, boost our immunity, and help fight off disease.
Studies from Harvard show a 32 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer for those who consumed a carotenoid-rich diet.
3.) They Will Keep Your Blood Sugar From Spiking
You would think since these puppies taste sweet that they would be bad for you, right?
The natural sugars are slowly released into the blood system. This ensures a balanced and regular source of energy. You won't have the sugar spike and fatigue with sweet potatoes.
4.) They Are Loaded With Potassium
Potassium is important for maintaining a regular heartbeat and nerve signals. It's an electrolyte that performs many functions.
Being low on potassium generally means you will catch a nasty cramp. They help relax muscle contractions, reduce swelling, and protects and keeps the kidneys healthy.
5.) They Will Help You Relax and De-Stress
Magnesium helps our arteries, blood, bone, heart, and nerve function.
Studies indicate about 80% of the U.S. may be deficient in this very important mineral.
6.) They Will Improve Your Immune System
Iron is important to our red and white blood cell production, how well we resist stress, and proper immune system function.
7.) They Will Improve Your Bones, Too
Vitamin D is great for our immune system and overall health. Vitamin D isn't just a vitamin, it's a hormone as well.
Our body produces vitamin D when we get out into the sun. This is why people with office jobs are generally deficient.
Eat more sweet potatoes or supplement with a D supplement to improve your depression, along with a slew of other things.
8.) Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the first thing we run to when we think we are having a cold. We all know it's healthy for us, but we simply don't get enough in our diets.
Vitamin C plays an important role in our bone and tooth formation, our digestion, and blood cell formation.
Accelerated wound healing allows us to produce collagen and maintain a youthful looking skin.
9.) They Help With Degenerative Diseases
Vitamin B6 helps reduce our chemical homocysteine in our bodies.
Homocysteine has been linked with many degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.
Wrapping It Up
I won't tell you what you should and shouldn't eat. Hell, I just ate Arbys last night while writing an article about how unhealthy fast food is.
Life is about balance and making some positive nutritional choices.
Simply adding in a serving or three of sweet potato regularly to your diet will greatly improve your overall health.
Getting healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn't about grueling hours in the gym and eating out of Tupperware. It's about arming yourself with knowledge from an article like this and then putting it to use.
Put the knowledge to use.