Sweet potatoes are more than just a popular staple serving as a sweet appetizer, side dish, or filling snack on their own. This starchy root vegetable has a lot to offer when it comes to achieving optimal health.
Sweet potatoes are a common food source for many native populations in Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Hawaii.
It is an excellent source of natural compounds, including beta-carotene and anthocyanins. The high concentration of these compounds in the root crop, along with its stable colors, make sweet potato a healthy alternative to synthetic food dyes. Let’s take a closer look at the five ways sweet potatoes benefit overall well-being.
1. Rich nutritional profile
One cup of diced sweet potatoes provides the following:
|Water — 103 grams (g)
|Energy: 114 kilocalories (kcal)
|Protein — 2.09g
|Carbohydrates — 26.9 g
|Fiber — 3.99g
|Sugar — 5.56g
|Calcium: 39.9 milligrams (mg)
|Iron — 0.811mg
|Potassium — 448mg
|Phosphorus — 62.5 mg
|Sodium — 73.2mg
|Vitamin C: 3.19mg
Orange and purple varieties are rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid and vitamin C. There are a large number of sweet potato colors around the world, including white, yellow, orange and purple. In the US market, however, sweet potatoes typically have a deep orange flesh color, light to medium pink, coppery or red skin color, sweet flavor and moist texture.
2. Improved memory and cognitive health
A 2013 study found that a caffeoylquinic acid-rich purple sweet potato extract produced a neuroprotective effect in the brains of animal models, which may help improve spatial learning and memory.
The purple color in sweet potatoes comes from a class of natural anthocyanins that have strong antioxidant and neuroprotective activity. In animal subjects, it has shown great promise for improving cognitive function. In other animal studies, purple sweet potatoes have been shown to protect the brain by reducing inflammation.
3. Immune Support
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are among the best natural sources of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system. “Unsurprisingly, vitamin A deficiency is associated with impaired intestinal immune responses and increased mortality associated with gastrointestinal and respiratory infections,” the researchers wrote in Nature Reviews Immunology.
Purple sweet potatoes are also of particular interest for immune support, with polysaccharides including water-soluble polysaccharides, dilute alkali-soluble polysaccharides, and concentrated alkali-soluble polysaccharides (CASP) evaluated for their strengthening effects. immune.
The three polysaccharides tested were found to stimulate macrophage immune responses and upregulate subjects’ adaptive immunity by enhancing immunoglobulin production. Separate research also indicates that purple sweet potato extract may treat immune dysfunction by mobilizing antioxidant defenses.
4. Anticancer potential
Anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants found in sweet potatoes, have been widely evaluated for their anticancer properties, particularly against colorectal, colon, bladder, breast, and stomach cancer.
Against colorectal cancer, sweet potato can induce cell cycle arrest, antiproliferative and apoptotic mechanisms or cell death. In bladder cancer, sweet potato anthocyanins had an antitumor effect. Taiwan purple-fleshed sweet potatoes have also been shown to have anti-cancer activities through their ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cell lines such as breast cancer, gastric cancer, and colon adenocarcinoma.
Even sweet potato skin, which is usually discarded as waste, contains components that can help prevent the development of various types of cancer.
5. Diabetes control and prevention
Anthocyanins can also serve as a functional food for diabetes. Antioxidants in general have been found to reduce oxidative stress due to hyperglycemia, and anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes have been found to positively affect liver and kidney activity as well as blood pressure in animal models with diabetes.
This class of antioxidants, found in purple sweet potatoes, also had beneficial effects on diabetes-induced endothelial dysfunction in animal subjects. You can learn more about sweet potatoes and their health benefits from studies in the GreenMedInfo.com database.
By Sayer Ji. Articles in English