Sweet Potato Health Benefits According to
Medical News Today
Sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch. In one medium spud, there is over 400 percent of
your daily vitamin A requirement, plus loads of fiber and potassium. They have more grams of natural
sugars than regular potato but more overall nutrients with fewer calories.
Fast facts on sweet potato
- Sweet potatoes may help maintain a healthy blood pressure and protect against cancer.
- The high fiber content of sweet potatoes helps prevent constipation.
- One medium, baked sweet potato with skin contains just 103 calories.
- The fastest way to prepare a sweet potato is in the microwave.
- Although there is much confusion, sweet potatoes are not related to yams.
Possible health benefits of sweet potatoes
- Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions.
- Research suggests that increasing consumption of plant foods, like sweet potatoes, decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality.
- A diet including fresh fruit and vegetables may also promote a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
- Below are some specific benefits of consuming sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are considered low on the glycemic index scale, and recent research suggests they may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes.
The fiber in sweet potatoes is important, too. Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels; and, people with type 2 diabetes have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One medium sweet potato (skin on) provides about 6 grams of fiber.
Maintaining a low sodium intake helps keep a healthy blood pressure; however, increasing potassium intake may be just as important. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2 percent of American adults are meeting the daily 4,700-milligram recommendation for potassium. One medium sweet potato provides about 542 milligrams.
Also of note, high potassium intake is associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of dying from all causes.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition, among younger men, diets rich in beta-carotene may help protect against prostate cancer. Beta-carotene may also protect against colon cancer, according to a Japanese study.
Digestion and regularity
Because of its high fiber content, sweet potatoes help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources appears to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in sweet potatoes (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential for hormone synthesis during pregnancy and lactation.
Plant foods like sweet potatoes that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.
Choline, present in sweet potatoes, is a very important and versatile nutrient; it helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat, and reduces chronic inflammation.
In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, purple sweet potato extract was found to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as mopping up free radicals.
Vitamin A deficiency can damage vision; the cornea can become dry, leading to clouding of the front of the eye. It also prevents essential pigments from being produced. Correcting vitamin A deficiencies with foods high in beta-carotene can restore vision.
Also of note, the antioxidant vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk and progression of age-related macular degeneration