Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. Although they are soft and creamy enough to be put into pies and called a dessert, they are also a surprisingly nutritious vegetable.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. The orange variety, also, being high in carotenoids. They are relatively low in sodium and have fewer calories than white potatoes, although they do have more sugar.
Orange sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of vitamin A; a large one contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended intake. Vitamin A is an antioxidant powerhouse and is linked to anti-aging benefits, cancer prevention and the maintenance of good eyesight.
So, it is clear that while sweet potato pie might be soul food, sweet potatoes themselves are a whole-body vegetable.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of B6 vitamins, which are brilliant at breaking down homocysteine, a substance that contributes to the hardening of blood vessels and arteries. Sweet potatoes’ potassium content is also helpful for your heart, as it lowers blood pressure by maintaining fluid balance. Potassium is also an important electrolyte that helps regulate your heartbeat.
Controlling blood sugar and maintaining energy
As sweet as they are, sweet potatoes do not have a high glycemic index (which means they release sugar slowly into the blood stream). So, you won’t get blood sugar spikes but you will get a steady amount of energy.
Sweet potatoes are a terrific source of manganese which helps the body metabolise carbohydrates and thus maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In this way, it stabilises your appetite. It also helps the body utilise antioxidants.
Sweet potatoes contain magnesium, the go-to mineral for de-stressing. It promotes relaxation, calmness and a good mood. Magnesium also aids in artery, blood, bone, muscle and nerve health.
Immunity and anti-inflammatory properties
Due to the colour pigmented vitamins contained in sweet potatoes, they are high in anti-inflammatory benefits. One sweet potato contains about half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. They also contain vitamins A and E which also support a healthy immune system and are powerful disease fighting anti-oxidants.
Sun and hair
Vitamin A also protects against sun damage and Vitamin C and E are well known for their beauty benefits. They encourage healthy, glowing skin and collagen growth.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fibre.
Orange sweet potatoes have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Sweet potatoes are delicious as well as very nutritious, if eaten in moderation and prepared in a healthy way. It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potatoes since recent research has shown that it significantly increases the body’s uptake of beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes don’t take a long time to prepare. Try quick steaming them for 7 minutes to bring out their great flavours and maximise their nutritional value.
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves of garlic
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Cut sweet potatoes into ½ inch cubes. When water comes to a boil, carefully add the sweet potatoes. Cover steamer with a tight-fitting lid. Once steamed, add garlic and olive oil, fry for a few minutes and you have a delightfully tasty and healthy meal option.