Native to Central and South America, sweet potatoes are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They were brought to India by the Portuguese in the 16th century. These tuberous roots are very nutritious. They are the unsung heroes of a balanced diet for the following reasons:
- They are rich in antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins A, D, E & C which are all necessary to delay aging, protect against asthma, maintain the health of our skin, bones, teeth, heart, nerves and thyroid gland.
- They are a source of vitamin B6 which helps lower blood homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a chemical associated with degenerative heart disease.
- They are also a good source of minerals like manganese, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron which are all needed for maintaining immune function, forming red and white blood cells, metabolizing proteins etc.
- Due to their iron and vitamin A content, sweet potatoes help increase fertility and are also essential to balance hormones during pregnancy and lactation.
- Since they are high in potassium, they help lower blood pressure by removing excess sodium from the body. Potassium also helps to regulate the heartbeat and the fluid balance in the body, protect the kidneys, relax muscular contractions and reduce swelling.
- They are an excellent source of magnesium which is an anti-stress mineral that helps relax muscles, calm the nerves and relax the body.
- The natural sugars in sweet potatoes are slowly released into the bloodstream, ensuring a regular and balanced source of energy without any blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain. This makes them a good snack food for diabetics.
- They help to prevent cancers of the mouth, breast, lung, skin, and colon.
- They have a high fiber content, are easily digestible and are an excellent food choice for people with oral ulcers, inflamed colons, digestive disorders and constipation.
- Beta- cryptoxanthins in sweet potatoes lowers the risk of arthritis.
- Phytochelatins also present in sweet potatoes, bind to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, copper, & cadmium and safely remove them from the body.
- Folate in sweet potatoes helps develop cells and tissues of a fetus in the mother’s womb.
NOTE : If you take beta blockers for heart disease, limit your consumption of potassium-rich sweet potatoes. Beta blockers can increase blood potassium levels. People with impaired kidney function need to know that too much potassium can be harmful as the kidneys are unable to remove the excess potassium from the blood.
Roast sweet potatoes to bring out their natural flavor. Add steamed or boiled sweet potatoes to soups, salads, smoothies, vegetable cutlets etc. Baked sweet potato wedges are a healthier option to french fries. Cut sweet potatoes into half inch slices and steam them. Then add a drizzle of oil, some lemon juice, chaat masala or cinnamon / jeera / pepper / chilli powder to enhance the taste.
Stay blessed with good health ...always!!!