In a previous post there was a mention of sweet potatoes being one of the sources to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Sweet potatoes are another diabetes-friendly source of carbs: A medium sweet potato packs 4 grams of fiber and nearly a third of your daily vitamin C, and more. Here Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on the unique attributes of this amazing food:
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“Whenever I find information that will help promote optimal health, I am always eager to share it with all of my readers. This is especially true when it comes to diet, as proper nutrition is one of the pillars of good health and wellness. Now, I am excited to share with you the potential health benefits of sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes: More Than Just Food for the Holidays
When consumed in moderation, sweet potatoes can provide a rich concentration of nutrients. This makes them an ideal addition to your meals throughout the year. A substantial amount of research has proven that these naturally-sweet root vegetables possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and disease-fighting components.1, 2, 3
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The Sweet Potato's Humble Beginnings
The cultivation of sweet potatoes dates back to 750 BC, making it one of the oldest foods known to man.4 After Christopher Columbus' introduction of yams to Europe, the Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought sweet potatoes to different parts of the world, including Asia and Africa.5 In the 16th century, the United States – particularly in the southeastern part – consumed sweet potatoes as a staple food.6
About 400 varieties of sweet potatoes have been discovered, with some rarer than others.7 They are set apart using the appearance of their skin and color, including cream, tan, yellow, orange, pink, and purple.8 While they are in season during the months of November and December, they are available all-year round in local markets.
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The Sweet Potato vs. Yams and Regular Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are often mistaken as “yams,” which are the starchy root vegetables from the Dioscoreae family. Sweet potatoes belong to the Convolvulaceae or morning glory plant family. They possess two seed leaves, while yams only have one embryonic seed leaf and are moister.9
Yams are native to Africa, Asia, and tropical regions. They, too, have numerous varieties – the more familiar ones appear with dark, rough skin and white, purple, or red flesh.10
Generally, most sweet potatoes have the same size and shape. Yams, in contrast, may be as big as regular potatoes or may grow up to five feet long.11 Sweet potatoes also vary from regular potatoes, despite similarities in calorie, carbohydrate, and fiber content. The former is often considered healthier than the latter.
The calories and salt content of regular potatoes increase when they are fried. Regularly eating them fried may put you at risk or high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.12 This does not happen with sweet potatoes. Another reason why sweet potatoes are considered superior to regular potatoes is their varying colors, which indicate the presence of potent antioxidants.13
What Is the Significance of the Vibrant Colors of Sweet Potatoes?
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Orange-colored sweet potatoes owe their appearance to the carotenoid beta-carotene. Carotenoids are natural pigments responsible for the colorful appearances of some fruits and vegetables.
As an antioxidant, beta-carotene can help ward off free radicals that damage cells through oxidation, which can speed up aging and make you vulnerable against chronic diseases. This antioxidant can help support your immune system, as well as lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.14
Beta-carotene can be converted into retinol or vitamin A by your body,15 and vitamin A contributes to optimal eye health and vision. While taking vitamin A in large doses can be toxic, receiving it from beta-carotene is considered safe due to your body's ability to regulate its vitamin A production.16
Sweet potatoes can also contribute to skin health. Vitamin A, which is a natural anti-inflammatory, can help get rid of acne-causing bacteria.17
Purple sweet potatoes, on the other hand, contain anthocyanins, another type of natural pigments. Anthocyanins are associated with reduced cancer risk. Studies show they help suppress stomach, colon, lung, and breast cancer cell proliferation.18 They also prevent blood clots by stopping platelets from clumping together – a function that may help fight heart disease.19
Other Beneficial Compounds Found in Sweet Potatoes
While orange sweet potatoes have anti-carcinogenic properties, it was found that purple sweet potatoes have better cancer-fighting abilities because they have cyanidins and peonidins, which have a positive effect against cancer cell growth.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sweet-potato.aspx
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