Sweet potatoes to the rescue

February 23, 2012

Food, Nutrition, Skin

One of the most nutritious winter foods is the sweet potato. These orange-skinned root vegetables offer an amazing host of health benefits. Here are just a few:

High nutritional value — The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates the sweet potato as the most nutritious vegetable because of its nutritional richness. One cup of sweet potatoes contains 65 percent of the minimum requirement necessary for a daily amount of vitamin C.

This vegetable is also high in calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body — one serving of sweet potatoes provides as much as 700 percent of the U.S. recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A.

Low glycemic index — The sweet potato has a glycemic index of 17. (By comparison, a white potato has an index of 29.) This index indicates the impact a food substance has on blood sugar levels. A high number means blood sugar levels are spiked. Diabetes patients and others who monitor their blood sugar levels should avoid foods with a high glycemic index or load.

Nutritional benefits — To gain the maximum health benefits from sweet potatoes, eat the skins — much of the healing potential resides in this portion of the tuber. Also, add a small amount of fat for increased benefits. Beta-carotene absorbs more thoroughly into the body when consumed with fat. Recent research seems to indicate that steaming or boiling sweet potatoes, rather than roasting them, helps preserve their low glycemic index.

Good for your skin — Vegetables (sweet potatoes) with high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A translate to a skin superfood. Many pricey skincare products contain substances like retinol and retinoic acid, which are derived from vitamin A. Another plus is that beta-carotene combats free radicals, which cause skin aging.

Muscle cramps — The high potassium content in sweet potatoes contributes to alleviating muscle cramps, which are often related to a potassium deficiency. During times of stress, the body uses more potassium. Consuming sweet potatoes can help to protect you from the negative health effects of tension.

 

Sources: www.healingfoodreference.com and www.nutritiondata.self.com.

Reprinted from AZNetNews, Volume 30, Number 6, Dec/Jan 2012.

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