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They are soft, filling and delicious but how much do people actually know about the nutritional value of sweet potatoes? Most people are aware that sweet potatoes are healthier than white potatoes but their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content often goes overlooked. Learning more about the health benefits can help you incorporate it intelligently into your diet.
What is the nutritional value of sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are filling because they contain complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. These two substances work together to make digestion as smooth as possible. When foods contain fiber and complex carbs, the pace of digestion slows down. Food takes longer to break down and therefore makes you feel full for hours after eating. Complex carbohydrates are converted into energy that is slowly released in the body to give you a lasting energy boost. Because of this slow-releasing ability, sugar in your blood remains stable and insulin production is controlled.
After the food is digested, fiber moves it into the intestines and down to the rectum where it is passed out. As fiber transports foods through the digestive system, less pressure is exerted on the colon which prevents digestive complications like diverticulitis.
Sweet potatoes are good for your heart. They don’t have any saturated or trans fats that usually raises LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart attacks because it is carried by lipoproteins to the walls of the arteries. When it accumulates, it can cause blockages and blood clots that lead to heart failure. These unhealthy fats are also responsible for weight gain and their absence can lead to a trimmer, healthier body.
These sweet tubers are top providers of vitamin A and are ranked higher than most vegetables. Vitamin A is well-known as medication for the immune system. It strengthens immunity against diseases by keeping cells healthy and moist. When cells are healthy, bacteria, cancerous growths and free radicals are prevented from causing infections and illnesses. In fact, well-functioning cells can help you avoid everything from respiratory illnesses to strokes. The ability of vitamin A makes sweet potatoes essential for people suffering from viral illnesses.
Next on the list of the nutritional value of sweet potatoes is vitamin B1, 5 and 6. Vitamin B1 is believed to improve overall cognitive functions, especially in the areas of memory and concentration. Research also states that higher energy levels and enhanced vision are by-products of consuming vitamin B1. Vitamins B5 and 6 specialize in boosting the metabolism, increasing the number of red blood cells for immunity, assisting the nervous system and producing healthy skin.
Sweet potatoes are hosts to many minerals, some of which include calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese. When eaten with leaves, you can increase your intake of iron, vitamin C and folate. The benefits of consuming these minerals are too many to mention. Hormone production, increased bone density, protection against bacteria, elimination of free radicals, cancer prevention, and improved synthesis of proteins; muscle restoration and clear skin are just a few rewards you can reap.