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Oh! Sweet Potato. How Sweet is Your Nutrition?

Thursday, December 18, 2008
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Or, that consumers just aren't aware of the loaded nutrients in this good `ol homestyle tuber.

Sweet potatoes can be cooked into a sweet or savory dish, roasted with your favorite cut of meat or turned into a delicious pie or pancake. It is a wonderful way to add flavor naturally to your meals throughout the year.

Sweet Potato,  scientifically known as Ipomoea batatas, is the world's seventh-most important food crop, after wheat, rice, maize, potato, barley and cassava. It is a tuberous root, which is a modified lateral root, enlarged to function as a storage organ; thus it has high nutritional value.

Its plant is a creeper with heart shaped or lobed leaves. The  color of sweet potatoes varies from purple or red to pale yellow or white, depending upon the variety, soil type, climate and minerals. The intensity of the flesh color is directly correlated to the antioxidant capacity and beta-carotene content. Interestingly, the antioxidant activity of the sweet potato skin regardless of the color is almost three times higher than in the rest of the vegetable.

The nutritional value for sweet potato is almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal. All these benefits with only about 130 to 160 calories!
Now, How sweet does that sound?
 
Nutrition Facts  (for one medium sized sweet potato)
Calories - 130
Fat - 0.39 g
Protein - 2.15 g
Net Carbohydrates - 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber -  3.9 g
Calcium -  28.6 mg
Sodium - 16.9 mg
Potassium -  265.2 mg
Folate - 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C - 29.51 mg
Vitamin A  - 26081.9 IU
Thiamine - 0.05mg
Riboflavin - 0.3mg 
Niacin - 1.4mg
Folic acid - 8.4mcg
Vitamin B6 <1 mg
(Source: US Department of Agriculture)

It's believed that including this vegetable in the day's diet, guarantees complete satisfaction not only to your sweet tooth but also to the entire body.

Latest research on sweet potatoes unveils a few surprising benefits:
  • Sweet Source of Nutrition
    Sweet potato is shown to be a strong performer in terms of the traditional nutrients. This root vegetable is qualified as an excellent source of beta-carotene, a very good source of Vitamin C and manganese and a good source of copper, fiber, Vitamin B6, iron & potassium.
  • An Anti-inflammatory  and an antioxidant rich food
    The storage root proteins of this vegetable are observed to have potent antioxidant properties. In one study, these proteins had about a third of the antioxidant activity of glutathione - one of the body's most impressive internally produced antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage induced by free radicals, which are a natural by-product of the body turning food into energy. Excess free radicals are a problem because they attack the body itself, damaging the genetic material and thus leading to cancer. They have also been implicated in premature aging, heart disease, arthritis, etc.
    Both Beta-carotene and Vitamin C are very powerful sources of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body.
    Additionally, sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin B6, which helps to reduce the homocysteine, levels in the blood and thereby protects the heart. Increased levels of the homocysteine amino acid are associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Did you know that making vitamin A rich foods like sweet potatoes, part of your healthy way of eating, might save you from complications like lung inflammation and emphysema that result from smoking.
  • Diabetic friendly
    Contrary to the popular belief, sweet potatoes are beneficial for diabetics (low glycemic index food). Amazingly, they are very effective in regulating blood sugar levels by helping proper secretion and function of insulin. The main job of insulin is to keep the level of sugar in the bloodstream within a normal range, which does not happen in diabetes.
    The fiber in sweet potatoes helps lower blood sugar by slowing the rate at which food is converted into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. Of course, that does not mean that diabetics should eat them indiscriminately. The idea is to replace rice or carbohydrate intake with sweet potatoes.
  • Soothes Stomach Ulcer
    Sweet potato has a soothing effect on the stomach and intestines. The vitamins (B-complex and C), beta-carotene, potassium and calcium are very effective in curing stomach ulcers. Moreover, the roughage in sweet potatoes prevents constipation and resultant acid formation, thereby reducing the chance of ulcers. The anti inflammatory and soothing properties of sweet potatoes also reduce the pain and inflammation of the ulcers.
So, the next time don't miss an opportunity to include this unattractive yet healthy and nutritious vegetable in your meals.

By. Kanchan Saggi, Dietitian, NutritionVista.com

 

NutritionVista

User Comments

25 July, 2013 | Fariha | Reply

Fariha Thank you for this use full post it will really help us in our counselling.

17 March, 2013 | Deepti Saudagar | Reply

Deepti Saudagar Thanx for sharing such great info!!!

Never knew that Sweet potatoes coyuld be so sweet.

02 January, 2012 | shermi | Reply

shermi thank you very much for such a useful post.it really helps in my project work.

26 October, 2010 | SMITAMIRJE | Reply

SMITAMIRJE i am soo happy to know that a diabetic person can consume sweet potato.
because we all feared that sweet potato would increase the sugar level.

06 October, 2010 | Skin Care Las Vegas | Reply

Skin Care Las Vegas Thanks a lot for sharing such a great post.... I really helps me to know the real facts of sweet patato.

05 June, 2010 | Ravi | Reply

Ravi I am glad to know that sweet potato can be included in healthy diet plan by diabetics too!

30 November, 2009 | Vijayalakshmi | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Mr Johari Once the sweet potatoes are scrubbed well the skin is edible and helps retain a lot of nutrition. Please take care not to bruise the skin while washing. For `Sweet potato mash’, the skin may be peeled but if you grill it or bake sweet potato, the peel gets crisp and can be eaten along with the flesh.
Sweet potatoes will not be chewy and tough if you steam it in the pressure cooker but if you microwave it there are chances of the peel becoming leathery.

30 November, 2009 | Kanchan | Reply

Kanchan Dear Ms. Johari

Thank you for your query.
As you know, the skin of veggies and fruits have a lot of nutrients and antioxidants in them and hence we impress upon the fact that it's always good to eat foods with the skin on. However, it gets cumbersome to eat certain foods with skin, like the sweet potatoes. In such cases you can probably boil, pressure cook, bake, broil & mash them to soften the skin fibers. Sweet potatoes with the skin on, can be used for preparing a variety of dishes like a vegetable stir fry, pies, roti’s stuffed with sweet potatoes, pancakes, a boiled sweet potato as it is, sweet potato salad, a healthy sweet potato soup, oven baked fries, sweet potato with pasta, casserole, sweet potato fritters & grilled preparations.
I hope I have answered your question. Please feel free to contact us, should there be any other queries.
Thank you.
Kanchan Saggi, Dietitian, NutritionVista

26 November, 2009 | johari | Reply

johari What are ways to prepare sweet potatoes and be able to eat the skin without them becoming tough or chewy?

09 October, 2009 | RK SINGH | Reply

RK SINGH I am diabetic since 1995. I am very happy to know the facts about sweet potato. Now I can add this healthy & nutritious food in our daily meals.

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