Thursday, February 22, 2018

Benefits and Uses Of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and yams (Bitter Yam) are botanically distinct, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Yams have pale flesh and grow in Asia and Africa, while sweet potatoes have bright orange or yellow flesh and grow in tropical regions of the Americas. Sweet potatoes, are an excellent and inexpensive staple to have on hand. These deep orange-fleshed nutritional powerhouses add several important components to the diet. Their health and weight management benefits far exceed the nutritional value found in ordinary white and yellow fleshed potatoes.

This post is in honor of:
National Cook A Sweet Potato Day - Celebrated February 22 in the US
National Sweet Potato Awareness Month - Celebrated November
National Sweet Potato Month - February

Benefits and Uses of Sweet Potatoes
  • Superior fiber content : Sweet potatoes contain almost twice as much fiber as other types of potatoes. Contributing close to 7 grams of fiber per serving, they make an excellent starchy addition to any meal. The high fiber content gives them a "slow burning" quality. This basically means their caloric energy is used more slowly and efficiently than a low-fiber carbohydrate.
  • Heart-healthy : They contain a large amount of vitamin B6. This vitamin is crucial in breaking down a substance called homocysteine, which contributes to hardening of the arteries and blood vessels. Vitamin B6 helps keep the walls of these important blood passageways flexible and healthy which allows blood to flow freely.
  • In addition, sweet potatoes contain high amounts of potassium. Potassium plays an important role in lowering blood pressure by ridding the body of excess sodium and regulating fluid balance. It is also an important electrolyte that helps regulate the natural rhythm of the heart, and maintains normal function of the brain and central nervous system.
  • Rich in beta-carotene : Beta-carotene or vitamin A is an important antioxidant. One medium sweet potato provides your body with the complete recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and then some. Vitamin A is useful in the prevention of several different types of cancer as it is one of the most potent antioxidants out there.Beta-carotene also helps to internally protect your skin from sun damage by both deflecting and repairing cell damage caused by excessive UV exposure. It also is an excellent nutrient for eye health and has been linked to prevention of vision loss and macular degeneration.
  • Cancer : Sweet potatoes also contain the polyphenol anti-oxidants caffeic acid and di- and tri-caffeoylquinic acids, which are the substances that may have cancer-fighting properties.
    • Breast Cancer : Researchers in Japan tested sweet-potato extracts on rats with breast cancer. The results, published in 2005 in "Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry," showed that amounts equivalent to 5 percent of total-feed weight reduced the number of tumors relative to a control group and inhibited the growth of new tumors.
    • Gallbladder Cancer : A study involving 64 cases of gallbladder cancer and 101 cases of gallstones gathered evidence to determine any links between specific foods and cancer risk. Those with gallstones are believed to be at a higher risk of developing gallbladder cancer. The scientists published their results in 2002 in the "European Journal of Cancer Prevention." They concluded that those who ate vegetables, including sweet potatoes, had a decreased risk of developing cancer.
    • Kidney Cancer : A Japanese review, published in June 2005 in the "Journal of Epidemiology," didn't find any links between specific vegetables and the development of renal-cell cancer. However, the researchers did find that those who consumed three to four starchy roots -- including sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and taro -- had a lower mortality risk. They advised that more research is needed, because their study was small.
    • Leukemia : One study investigated sweet potato extracts on promyelocytic leukemia cells. The Taiwanese researchers published their findings in the April 2007 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry." They found that the potato extracts were able to inhibit growth of the leukemia cells. Although the results haven't been tested yet on animal or humans with leukemia, the researchers concluded that sweet potatoes may be useful as a cancer-preventive substance.
    • Liver Cancer : Laboratory mice with liver cancer were treated with the anti-oxidant anthocyanin extracted from sweet potatoes. The scientists reported in the Chinese journal "Wei Sheng Yan Jiu" in 2008 that 150 mg of anthocyanin caused a 33.33 percent reduction in the growth of liver cancer tumors.
    • Lung Cancer : A study in Taiwan of 301 lung cancer cases, 602 hospital controls and 602 neighborhood controls investigated the link between the consumption of local foods rich in vitamin A, such as sweet potato leaves, and the risk of lung cancer. The researchers concluded in their review, published in 2007 in the "Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition," that those who ate the most sweet potato leaves had a 43 to 65 percent reduced risk of developing lung cancer.
  • A great source of manganese : Manganese is a little-discussed trace mineral that has some great health benefits. It is a pivotal component in the metabolism of carbohydrates which helps support healthy blood sugar levels. This can help stabilize the appetite for hours as opposed to the temporary satisfaction that comes with most other carbohydrates.
  • It also is a cofactor in enzymes that play an important role in the generation of energy as well as the efficient utilization of antioxidants. It is used for the treatment of anemia and is useful as a treatment for several premenstrual symptoms in women as well.
  • Rich in vitamins C and E : As if being one of the top vegetable sources of beta-carotene weren't enough, sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and E. These are potent antioxidant vitamins that play an important role in disease prevention and longevity.
  • Both vitamins also play a huge role in the health and beauty of your skin and hair, making them popular supplements. The combination of beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C in one food makes the sweet potato one heck of a "beauty food". These nutrients all contribute to a healthy, glowing complexion and vibrant hair.


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