Sweet potatoes are nutritious and delicious root vegetables. Scientists have found that they are among the best sources of Vitamin A and are also naturally packed with vitamin B5, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and carotenoids due to their naturally orange color.
The sweet potato, also known as the Ipomoea batatas, not only contains many nutrients, but it is also packed with medicinal benefits. Scientists have determined that they contain anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anticancer properties.
Here are 7 of the health benefits that you can accrue from including sweet potatoes in your regular diet:
1. Good Source of Vitamins C and A
One cup of baked sweet potato provides nearly half of your daily vitamin C needs. The same portion also supplies 400% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Both nutrients are vital for supporting immune function, which is especially important during cold and flu season. Vitamin A is also key for maintaining healthy skin, vision, and organ function.
2. Contain Lots of Other Nutrients
A serving of sweet potato delivers a third of your need for manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promote skin and bone health. You’ll also get between 15 and 30% of several energy-supporting B vitamins and minerals, including potassium.
3. Serve as Antioxidant Powerhouse
Vitamins A and C also function as antioxidants that protect cells against aging and disease. For even more antioxidants, choose purple sweet potatoes. The pigment that gives them their gorgeous hue has particularly potent antioxidant properties.
4. Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
We’ve long known that unchecked, low-grade inflammation raises the risk of nearly every chronic disease, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Natural anti-inflammatory compounds in sweet potatoes have been shown to quell inflammation at the cellular level: Research done on animals has shown reduced inflammation in brain tissue and nerve tissue after purple sweet potato extract consumption.
5. Don’t Cause Blood Sugar Spikes
Some may regard sweet potatoes as too starchy, but their high fiber content makes them a slow-burning starch, meaning they won’t spike blood sugar and insulin levels. One cup of baked sweet potato provides about 6 grams of fiber, which is more than a quarter of the daily recommended minimum.
6. Help Regulate Blood Pressure
One cup of sweet potato baked in its skin provides 950 mg of potassium. That’s more than twice the amount in a medium banana. Potassium essentially sweeps excess sodium and fluid out of the body, which lowers blood pressure and reduces strain on the heart. Potassium also helps regulate heart rhythm and muscle contractions.
7. Help Support Weight Loss
About 12% of the starch in sweet potatoes is resistant starch, a filling, fiber-like substance your body doesn’t digest and absorb. One study found that replacing just 5.4% of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch resulted in a 20 to 30% increase in fat burning after a meal. Resistant starch also prompts the body to pump out more satiety-inducing hormones.