There’s nothing better than a hot baked sweet potato with melting butter and a dash of cinnamon. This root vegetable comes from the morning glory family Convolvulaceae, and has large, sweet-tasting, starchy tuberous roots. Not only are they delicious, readily available and inexpensive, but also come with a myriad of health benefits. Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes are not related to your regular potatoes; they are vine plants.
Calories and Nutritional Value of Sweet Potatoes
- 1 Calories and Nutritional Value of Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
- 3 What Makes Sweet Potatoes So Great?
- 4 Incorporating Sweet Potatoes in Your Diet
Something that borders on both the positive and negative aspects of sweet potatoes is the number of calories they contain. A 5-inch, 130-gram sweet potato packs 112 calories while 100 grams contain 86 calories. If you are consuming an entire sweet potato, that is equivalent to 6% of the total daily recommended calorie intake of an average male adult. This may seem like a lot but if you look at the nutritional benefits of the vegetable, the calorie count doesn’t seem so bad.
Nutritional Value – Based On 100 Grams
- 55 mg of sodium
- 337 mg of potassium
- 3 g of dietary fiber
- 2 g of sugar
- 1 g of total fat
- 6 g of protein
- 283% vitamin A
- 4% vitamin C
- 3% calcium
- 6% of magnesium
- 10% Vitamin B-6
- 1% folate
- 7% Niacin
- 6% riboflavin
- 7% thiamin
- 3% vitamin K
- 9% Pantothenic Acid
- 8% copper
- 25% Manganese
- 2% zinc
- 1% sodium
- 5% phosphorus
- 0 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids
- 60 mg of Omega-6 fatty acids
- 0 g of starch
- 3% iron
Vitamin B-6 helps lower the level of chemical homocysteine present in our bodies. Homocysteine is believed to be associated with degenerative diseases such as heart attacks.
Although many people know and realize the importance of vitamin C in fighting flu and cold viruses, few are actually aware that this vital vitamin plays a key role in tooth and bone formation, blood cell growth and digestion. It also helps to increase the rate at which wounds heal, produces collagen, which forms the skin structure, and helps keep it looking youthful and glowing, and helps us deal with stress. Furthermore, it safeguards our bodies against contaminants that may be linked to cancer.
Iron is a key contributor to the production of white blood cells, and helps the body resist stress. It also improves the functioning of the immune system and metabolizes protein among other nutrients.
Magnesium is very important for healthy blood, bone, artery, nerve function, and muscle, yet the majority of people are deficient in this necessary mineral.
Potassium is a crucial electrolyte that helps regulate nerve signals and heartbeat. Just like any other electrolyte, potassium carries out various important functions, such as calming muscle contractions, controlling and protecting the kidney activity and reducing swelling.
Sweet potatoes have a plentiful supply of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and other carotenoids. Carotenoids are a powerful antioxidant that strengthen the eyesight and enhance our immunity to diseases, protect our body against the effects of aging, and help keep cancer at bay.
A study conducted at the Harvard University included more than 124,000 people who showed a 32% reduction in the risk of developing a lung cancer. These people consumed foods rich in carotenoids on a regular basis. Another study involving women showed that those participants who had received treatment for breast cancer at an early age and consumed carotenoid rich foods had the least chance of cancer recurrence.
Your body easily breaks down the proteins in sweet potatoes and they are also digested easily. The enzymes are converted into amino acids, which you need if you work out regularly.
Vitamin K is vital for human health as is reinforces the bones and boosts theirosteotropic activity.
This vitamin is also critical for the health of the brain, as it lessens the level of neural damage in patients of Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are consumed by your body for making energy, managing blood flow and stopping various strokes and heart diseases. Combined with omega-3 fats, potassium also aids in regulating the blood pressure and heart rate.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
As per the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, sweet potatoes comprise of magnesium, which is the go-to element for destressing a body. The mineral promotes calmness, relaxation, and lifts up spirits. Moreover, it also improves the health of your blood, artery, bones, nerve health and muscle.
Healthy Hair and Skin
According to a 2004 study, vitamin A helps protect the skin against sun damage while vitamin C promotes the production of collagen, the main structural protein present in skin and other connective tissues. Vitamin E is also known to contribute to a healthy, glowing and youthful looking skin.
The Cleveland Clinic states that sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, which assists the body in maintaining a healthy digestive tract by regulating digestion.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, which is important for breaking down a component known as homocysteine. Homocysteine contributes to the hardening of blood vessels and arteries, and vitamin B6 helps keep these important blood pathways healthy and flexible, which in turn allows the blood to circulate easily.
Furthermore, sweet potatoes also have high quantities of potassium, which plays a key role in lowering blood pressure level by eliminating any excess of sodium present in the body to regulate fluid balance. It is also a vital electrolyte that assists in regulating the heart’s natural rhythm, and allows the central nervous system and the brain to function smoothly.
Sweet potatoes are known to have a low glycemic index scale, and current research suggests that they may also lower spell of low insulin resistance and blood sugar level in diabetics. The quantity of fiber present in sweet potatoes also helps with type 1 diabetes as they decrease the levels of blood glucose. People with type 2 diabetes may experience improved insulin, lipids and blood sugar levels.
Improved Chances of Fertility
For childbearing females, consuming iron from different plant sources is believed to improve fertility, as per the findings of Harvard Medical Harvard Health Publications. The presence of vitamin A is also important during the lactation and pregnancy period for hormone synthesis.
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Choline is an essential and flexible nutrient found in sweet potatoes that helps with muscle movement, sleep, memory and learning. It also helps to maintain the cellular structure of the membranes, assists with the absorption of fat, improves the transmission of nerve impulses and reduces continuing inflammation.
According to an MD, Jill Koury of Duke, a deficiency in vitamin A can cause the external parts of the eye’s photoreceptors to damage, thus deteriorating normal eyesight. Rectifying any vitamin A deficiencies with beta-carotene rich foods can help restore the eyesight.
Another noteworthy point about sweet potatoes is the presence of antioxidants vitamins C and E, which have shown to promote health of the eyes and also prevent them from any degenerative damage.
What Makes Sweet Potatoes So Great?
Sweet potatoes are highly versatile, which means that they can be roasted, steamed, grilled, baked, or pureed. You can also enjoy them as part of soups and stews, or a leafy green salad. Another great tip to get all the vegetable’s nutrients is by pureeing them and adding to baked goods and smoothies.
Incorporating Sweet Potatoes in Your Diet
Avoid purchasing sweet potatoes that have wrinkles or soft skin, soft spots or cracks. Store your purchase in a dry and cool place and consume within 3 to 5 weeks.
Roasting the vegetables is the best to bring about its natural flavor. Avoid adding on it too much butter or marshmallow toppings to benefit the most out it. Remember that sweet potatoes on their own are quite calorie-dense, which means you shouldn’t be adding more to the count. Instead, add a pinch of spice such as cumin, curry powder or cinnamon to enhance the taste.
The quickest way to add a sweet potato in your diet is by microwaving it until it becomes soft. Wait for it to cool down then enjoy it with a sprinkle of olive oil or low-fat Greek yogurt. Try the following recipe for added taste and benefits of the vegetable.
Roasted Sweet Potato Fries
- 1 large sweet potato with skin on
- 5 tsp. of ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. of garlic powder
- ½ tsp. of crushed black pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ tsp, cayenne pepper
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash and cut the potato into thin strips. In a bowl combine all the spices and olive oil and mix them well. Toss in the cut potato strips and coat them with the spice mixture. Now place the strips in a baking tray and roast them for about 20 minutes. Flip the fries to bake the other side for an additional 15 minutes or until they have browned and crisped.