When was the last time you had sweet potato? If you just keep sweet potatoes for the colder months, it might be time to start eating this delicious root vegetable more often. Whether you bake, roast or mash sweet potato, or you stir fry slithers of sweet potato, you’ll inject a nutritional boost to your meal.
High in fiber
Sweet potatoes provide 50% more fiber than regular potatoes. A diet high in fiber can reduce digestive problems such as constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and colorectal cancer. Eating sweet potatoes regularly can help you achieve the recommendations of 25g of fiber daily for women and 38g daily for men.
The orange flesh of sweet potatoes is thanks to their beta-carotene content, the plant equivalent of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are so rich in beta-carotene that a medium tuber provides four times your daily requirement for vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for sight in low light conditions, as it helps the rods in your retina to function. Vitamin A is also vital for a healthy immune system, regulating production of your white blood cells, which may reduce your risk of autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes and psoriasis. Additionally, you’ll benefit from higher energy levels when consuming enough vitamin A, as the vitamin aids red blood cell production and the release of iron from where it is stored, ensuring delivery of enough oxygen to your cells for energy release.
Rich in vitamin C
You can get more than one-third of the recommended intake for vitamin C from a medium sweet potato. Vitamin C has antioxidant activity, helping to combat free radicals that come from smoke, pollutants and UV light, as well as those generated during normal metabolism in your body. By controlling free radicals you reduce your risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Getting enough vitamin C is also vital for collagen production in your skin, tendons and ligaments, helping your wounds to heal easily. You may not realise it, but vitamin C is essential to keep your bones and teeth strong.
Additionally, vitamin C aids immunity, but don’t expect high intake to prevent you catching a cold. Finally, if you are vegetarian or eat little meat, vitamin C helps you to absorb iron from non-meat sources.
A good bet for manganese
The mineral manganese isn’t widely talked about, but it has several important functions within your body. For example, manganese helps you to absorb calcium from food and it is essential for the production of bone, soft tissues and factors to help your blood clot. Manganese also forms part of the important antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Eating a sweet potato will help you achieve 25% of your daily manganese requirement, which is an easy way to top up your manganese intake.
Sweet potatoes add more than just a splash of colour to your plate; they are packed with vital nutrients. As it’s easy to swap sweet potatoes for regular potatoes, all you need to do is pick up a bag next time you do your grocery shop and away you go.