Sweet potatoes, commonly labeled as yams, are an excellent and inexpensive staple to have on hand. These deep orange-fleshed nutritional powerhouses add several important components to the diet. Their health and weight management benefits outweigh the nutritional value found in ordinary white and yellow fleshed potatoes.
Sweet potato is grown throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions. The crop just requires sufficient water and little attention for their successful cultivation. The tuberous root features oblong/elongated shape with tapering ends and has smooth outer skin whose color ranges from red, purple, brown, and white, depending upon the variety. Below are the amazing benefits of the wonder food:
- Sweet potato is one of the high calories starch foods (provide 90 calories/100 g vis a vis to 70 calories/100 g in potato). The tuber, however, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, and is rich source of dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals than potatoes.
- Its calorie content mainly comes from starch, a complex carbohydrate. Sweet potato has higher amylose to the amylopectin ratio than that in potato. Amylose raises the blood sugar levels rather slowly on comparison to simple fruit sugars (fructose, glucose etc) and therefore, recommended as a healthy food item even in diabetes.
- The tuber is an excellent source of flavonoid phenolic compounds such as beta-carotene and vitamin-A. 100 g tuber provides 14,187 IU of vitamin A and 8,509 µg of ß-carotene, a value which is the highest for any root-vegetables categories. These compounds are powerful natural antioxidants. Vitamin A is also required for the human body to maintain integrity of mucus membranes and skin. It is a vital nutrient for healthy vision. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- The total antioxidant strength of raw sweet potato measured in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is 902 µmol TE/100 g.
- The tubers are packed with many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), and thiamin (vitamin B-1), niacin, and riboflavin. These vitamins are essential in the sense that the human body requires them from external sources to replenish. These vitamins function as co-factors for various enzymes during metabolism.
- Sweet potato provides good amount of vital minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium that are very essential for enzyme, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Sweet potato top greens are indeed more nutritious than the tuber itself. Weight per weight, 100 g of fresh leaves carry more iron, vitamin C, folates, vitamin K, and potassium but less sodium than its tuber.