Sweet potatoes are starchy root vegetables that are usually sweet and are grown and available across the globe. They can be considered as staple food items for some countries and they may be available in different colors and sizes. Sweet potatoes can come in colors purple, white and orange and they can contain increased amounts of fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Due to their high nutritional content, it comes as no surprise that sweet potatoes can provide a number of health benefits for individuals who choose to consume them.
The Nutritional Content of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are not just tasty and flavorful food items. They also contain significant amounts of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts
1 cup or serving of a sweet potato with its skin can give you:
- Niacin: 15% of the total daily requirement
- Copper: 16% total daily requirement
- Pantothenic acid: 18% of the total daily requirement
- Potassium: 27% of the total daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 29% of the total daily requirement
- Manganese: 50% of the total daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 65% of the total daily requirement
- Vitamin A: 769% of the total daily requirement
- Fiber: 6.6 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Carbohydrates: 41.4 grams of and
- Total Calories: 180
On top of all the said nutrients, minerals and vitamins, sweet potatoes such as the purple and the orange types have elevated levels of antioxidants which can help the body fight off harmful free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are unstable and can cause inflammation and initiate damage to the individual’s DNA. This, in turn, can lead to certain chronic and degenerative illnesses such as aging, heart and cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. As a food item considered as an antioxidant, consuming sweet potatoes may help people reap certain health benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes?
As mentioned earlier, sweet potatoes are exceedingly nutritious and may contribute to certain health benefits and advantages. Enumerated below are some of the health benefits:
Sweet Potatoes can enhance a person’s gut health
The antioxidants and fiber present in sweet potatoes can help individuals boost their gut health. There are two types of fiber found in sweet potatoes and these are the insoluble and soluble fiber. Both of these fiber types cannot simply be digested by the individual’s gut and can, therefore, stay within the person’s digestive system and providing a number of health benefits for the gut. Some forms of soluble fiber, sometimes referred to as viscous fiber, can be acted upon by bacteria through the process of fermentation. Once fermented, they can then produce or create short-fatty acids which are compounds that serve as the energy boost needed by the intestinal lining’s cells. Once these lining cells have increased energy or fuel, they can become more efficient and help maintain a gut that is strong and healthy.
Diets that are also rich in fiber, with consumption ranging from 20 to 33 grams daily, may also help an individual lower his or her risk of developing certain cancers such as cancer of the colon. In addition, the fiber in sweet potatoes can help the body attain more regular bowel or stool movements. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that can help promote other benefits for the gut. Studies also suggest that purple sweet potatoes contain antioxidants that help promote the development of good and healthy bacteria in the gut. These healthy bacteria include species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Sweet potatoes may help individuals fight or prevent cancer
Sweet potatoes contain certain antioxidants that can help fight and prevent certain types of cancers. Purple sweet potatoes contain anthocyanins. This antioxidant has been found to control and lessen the speed of development of certain cancers. Studies have also shown that anthocyanins showed less occurrence of colon cancer in animal test subjects which suggests that sweet potatoes can have certain protective properties in terms of cancer development and growth. Peels and extracts coming from sweet potatoes have also shown cancer-fighting properties during test tube laboratory studies. However, further research is needed to firmly establish the effect of sweet potatoes when it comes to cancer.
Sweet potatoes can help individuals achieve healthier eyesight
Sweet potatoes can provide high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A to form specific eyesight receptors. Vitamin A deficiency has been specifically observed in certain third world and emerging countries. This may lead to specific blindness called xerophthalmia. Consuming sweet potatoes and other foods rich in beta carotene can help fight against the abovementioned medical condition. In addition, test tube research has also shown that sweet potatoes can also prevent eye damage which can contribute to overall eyesight health.