Despite its name, the sweet potato really doesn’t belong to the same family as the potato, not even close. Potatoes are tubers, sweet potatoes are roots.
In some countries, the darker colored sweet potatoes have been mistakenly called yams. (Yams are often whitish to purplish color, depending on the variety. They have a distinct earthy taste, hardy texture and are hardly sweet.)
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes with flesh ranging from white, yellow, orange and purple. Even the shapes and sizes range from being short and blocky to long and thin.
Sweet potatoes, especially the deeper-colored ones, are extremely rich in carotenes (precursor of vitamin A).
It is said that the vitamin A in sweet potato is 1000x more than a white potato, making it one of the best foods for your eyesight.
Natural vitamin A is not toxic, as opposed to a vitamin A supplement that can become toxic in high dosage.
Sweet potato is also an excellent source of vitamins C, B2, B6, E and biotin (B7).
In the minerals department, they provide good amounts of manganese, folate, copper and iron. It also has pantothenic acid and is rich in dietary fiber.
Sweet potatoes offer a healthy portion of plant proteins, and a single serving contains small number of calories. They’re low in sugar, and actually help in the regulation of blood sugar.
They contain two times more fiber and calcium than regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes are excellent anti-inflammatory agents, and here are some more of their benefits:
1. Muscle cramps
Potassium deficiency makes you prone to injuries and causes muscle cramps.
Add sweet potatoes to your menu, especially if you exercise often. This will boost your energy, and prevent injuries and cramps.
Stress “kills” the potassium in your body, and that’s another reason for you to eat more sweet potatoes.
The orange goodness will regulate your heartbeat and restore your potassium reserves. It stimulates the flow of oxygen to the brain, and balances fluids in the body.
Sweet potatoes regulate blood sugar and insulin, and reduce insulin resistance.
4. Digestive tract
Fiber in sweet potatoes does magic to your digestive tract. Oh, yes, leave their skin on for maximum benefits. Sweet potatoes relieve constipation, and prevent the development of colon cancer.
Active and passive smokers suffer from vitamin A deficiency which is the main factor of many health problems.
6. Fetal development
Folate in sweet potatoes builds strong fetal cells and tissue development.
7. Immune system
Eat sweet potatoes often to boost your immunity, and build strong resistance against infection.
8. Heart disease
Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium. This mineral reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. It balances electrolytes and fluids in the body, and promotes normal heart function and blood pressure.
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants which aids in the treatment of inflammatory issues like asthma, arthritis, gout, etc.
Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes give their anti-inflammatory properties, and you can actually use them instead of your conventional painkillers. Sweet potatoes can be steam-cooked and juiced.