What comes to our mind when thinking of sweet potatoes? We generally include sweet potatoes in the diet during fasting days. Our day to day cooking rarely has sweet potatoes included in it. But did you know? This power-packed sweet potato root is not meant to be included only during fasts, it can be included in your regular diet too! Is sweet potato a vegetable? Yes, it is a root vegetable. Its shoots and leaves are sometimes consumed in the form of greens.
What is sweet potato?
Sweet potato is a sweet, starchy root vegetable. It is known as Shakarkandi, Sakkaravalli, Ratale, Ratalu Meetha aloo, Mau alu, Sukari and Varahi, in different parts of India. As said earlier they are starchy root vegetables that have carbohydrates as a major nutrient. There are also a great source of Fibers, Vitamins especially Beta carotene, and Minerals.
How is sweet potato healthier than potato?
These days many people have started replacing normal potatoes with sweet potatoes. Both are a good nutrient source but sweet potatoes are good when it comes to the presence of beta carotene.
Also the Glycemic index is slightly lower due to the high amount of fiber when compared with regular potatoes. But in the end, it is a carbohydrate, so eating too much sweet potato is not recommended. It has to be eaten in moderation.
Now we know that it’s a good way to get your nutrients, let us also learn about some health benefits of sweet potato and how to include this superfood in our diet.
1. Sweet potato is good for Vision
We all know Vitamin A plays an important role in eye health. Sweet potatoes have a good amount of beta carotene present which is a precursor of Vitamin A. This antioxidant helps to improve night vision and overall eye health.
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2. Sweet potato benefits for skin
It is recommended to include sweet potatoes for skin due to the presence of Beta carotene, Flavonoids, and Vitamin C. Beta carotene when converted to Vitamin A helps in cell production and growth. It helps in the production of healthy skin cells. The flavonoid anthocyanin helps to reduce the oxidative stress caused by free radicals hence helps to delay the aging of skin and prevents wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Vitamin C is known to boost collagen production which again helps in improving skin health.
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3. Sweet potato helps with weight management
Sweet potatoes are lower in calories compared to potatoes. Due to the sweetness, it is misunderstood as unhealthy. Eating too much sweet potato can increase weight, If had in a correct portion it can be a healthy option to help you shed those extra kilograms. Other than this it is also a good source of fibers which helps to give a feel full factor and avoid overeating. Sweet potatoes are a good source of Carbohydrates. For athletes looking to gain weight, you need to include a good amount of sweet potato for weight gain in combination with Proteins.
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4. Sweet potato improves gut health
Both insoluble and soluble fiber makes sweet potatoes a very good source of Fibers. Soluble fibers help in better absorption of nutrients by slowing down the digestion process and the insoluble one helps to add bulk to the stools.
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5. It reduces Cancer Risk
Due to the presence of Antioxidants, there are reduced free radicals and reduced oxidation which further reduces the risk of developing cancer.
6. Sweet potato is good for Heart Health
Due to the presence of Fibers it can help to manage the cholesterol levels. High levels of Potassium in sweet potatoes help to excrete sodium and reduce blood pressure. Potassium also helps to relax the muscle contractions and regulate the heartbeat further improving heart health.
7. If you have diabetes, sweet potato helps manage it
When compared to other starchy foods, the Glycemic index of Sweet potatoes is lower. This helps to slow down the release of sugar in the bloodstream. Even though the Glycemic index is lower, it needs to be consumed in moderation.
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There are many healthy ways to eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be boiled, baked, made into sweet potato powder, grilled, steamed, pressure cooked, shallow fried, fried, or baked. It can also be had in the form of chips. American sweet potato is particularly popular in this regard. Wondering- are sweet potato chips healthy? Yes! But only if they’re baked or roasted. It can be had as a dip with vegetable sticks or pita bread. It can be roasted with toppings of mixed vegetables with paneer or cheese. It can simply be had in mashed form. You can make any meal a healthy meal with sweet potatoes added to it but in a limited portion.