Must-Eat Food: The Wondrous Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
8 minute read
Sweet potatoes are not only readily available, inexpensive, and delicious, it turns out they are also very nutritious and good for your overall health. This root crop known for its starchy texture and slightly sweet taste is full of nutrients and other health benefits.
Plus, it just so happens to be versatile enough to enjoy any time of day and with any meal. Most of the time, the stuff that is good for us doesn’t taste good, but, luckily for you, sweet potatoes are as nutritious as they are delicious!
Why you need to be eating sweet potatoes
1. Rich in dietary fibers
The starchy texture of sweet potatoes contains fiber, which aids digestion. Fiber also helps your body release built-up waste to prevent blockage or constipation. Unfortunately, most of us are completely unaware of how much fiber we eat daily and are nowhere near the recommended daily amount.
The average adult needs 20-30 grams of fiber per day, but most Americans only get about 15. To maintain a regular digestive system and promote your overall health, consider adding a sweet potato to your diet a few times a week (or daily if you really need the digestive support).
2. Contains vitamin D
Vitamin D is great for many things in your body, including your skin, nerves, bones, and teeth. It also plays a major role in your immune system function and energy levels.
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On top of that, vitamin D helps to keep your thyroid glands in healthy working order. The health of the thyroid gland is critical because it regulates your metabolic rate and stores hormones that affect the function of virtually every organ in your body.
3. Contains beta-carotene
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps to alleviate joint pain as well as prevent the formation of tumors that can lead to breast and lung cancer. This carotenoid is a precursor for vitamin A, i.e., your body creates vitamin A from it, so it also helps to strengthen your eyesight and boost overall immunity.
A study of women with early-stage breast cancer found that those with a high blood concentration of carotenoids, like beta-carotene, had the least likelihood for cancer recurrence. There is also proof of a 32-percent reduction in the risk of lung cancer when following a carotenoid-rich diet.
4. Good for your heart
Sweet potatoes contain potassium, which has been proven to benefit the health of your heart as well as regulate blood pressure. Potassium is an important electrolyte that regulates your heartbeat and nerve signals. It also is responsible for relaxing muscle contractions, the reduction of swelling in the body and protecting and controlling the activity of your kidneys.
5. Rich in folic acid
The folic acid content of sweet potatoes makes them ideal for pregnant women and children. Folic acid is vital for making red blood cells as well as the synthesis and repair of DNA. It also helps speed up cell division and growth while enhancing brain health, an important part of fetal and infant development.
6. Contains vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for the body in fighting off viruses and infections. Having a high amount of vitamin C in your body helps support your immune system, so you can avoid more serious health complications. Vitamin C also plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, blood cell formation, and contributes to the body’s process of healing wounds.
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Additionally, vitamin C produces collagen, which helps maintain your skin’s elasticity and is essential for coping with stress. It even helps to protect your body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.
7. Keeps your skin healthy
If you boil a sweet potato, you can use the water to treat various skin infections and minor irritations. The residual water also helps to clear out clogged pores and helps to maintain hydration, helping your skin look and feel healthier.
Here's a great tip: Keep the leftover water in a bottle in the fridge, and you have the perfect skin toner at your fingertips! This natural toner absorbs impurities, deep cleans your pores, and soothes irritated skin, meaning you don’t have to spend tons of money on beauty products.
8. Supplies vitamin A
Vitamin A is good for your eyesight and also helps you avoid respiratory diseases, like coughs and colds. Vitamin A strengthens your immune health by increasing the lymphatic responses against disease-causing antigens. It also helps to keep your mucus membranes moist, thereby supporting immunity and enhancing the activity of white blood cells.
A sweet potato a day will be sure to prevent germs from entering your body and help fight off any infections that decide to take hold. It’s not only apples that keep the doctor away!
9. Helps to prevent anemia
Sweet potatoes help to regulate blood pressure, which allows healthier flow of oxygen to your blood. This help prevent anemia. The iron content of these vegetables also helps to provide energy and is responsible for red and white blood cell production, helping your body to resist stress and metabolize protein.
10. Promotes hair growth
If you have trouble with thinning hair or just want healthier hair, you may want to increase your sweet potato intake. The vitamin A content helps cell growth in hair follicles.
Of course, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. You shouldn’t have more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A per day, or the very reason it puts your hair follicles into overdrive can actually cause hair loss. Stick to no more than a half cup of cubed sweet potato a day to stay under this limit.
Sweet potatoes are packed full of nutrients and are versatile enough to be added to any meal. You can add them to soups and stews or grill them to add on top of a salad. When grilled with some onions they make a delicious addition to a sandwich or you can puree them and mix into smoothies and baked goods.
However you cook them, the verdict is definitely in: The delicious, nutritious sweet potato is a must for your health.