February is National Heart Month, so we wanted to share with you some of the heart healthy benefits of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes aid in the prevention of heart disease because they are high in potassium which can help prevent the onset of heart attacks and strokes. Potassium also helps the stabilization of blood pressure and aids in regulating heart function.
Amazing, right? But that isn’t all. Did you know that, out of all the vegetables we consume, sweet potatoes are ranked number one in nutrition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest? Sweet potatoes earned this ranking by being an amazingly rich source of beta-carotene, biotin, carotenoids, dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, natural sugars, protein, Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium.
In fact, one medium sweet potato will provide well over 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamins B2 & B6, Vitamin E, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, Manganese, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Thiamin, Riboflavin and Folate! That is a lot of good stuff for one sweet potato!
Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, which work in the body to prevent inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, gout and more. Beta-Carotene is one of these powerful antioxidants. It is known to give orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. When you eat a sweet potato, that Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in your body. By consuming foods rich in Vitamin A, like sweet potatoes, you could correct certain deficiencies.
Beta-Carotene combined with Vitamin C will also give your immune system a boost. Beta-Carotene may also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.
Sweet potatoes assist with management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, because they are considered low on the glycemic index. Sweet potatoes may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes.
Now, sweet potatoes do have more grams of natural sugars than regular potatoes, but they also have more a much higher nutrient-to-calorie ratio (by mass). So while they have more calories, sweet potatoes are actually better for you).
Folate, another ingredient in sweet potatoes, helps women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive. Folate is essential for the healthy development of fetal cells and tissue. The Iron in sweet potatoes also promotes fertility in women of child bearing age.
Sweet potatoes contain Magnesium, a nutrient that has been linked to helping alleviate anxiety, depression, headaches, irritability, muscle cramps and restlessness.
Eating sweet potatoes could also benefit your ability to learn and remember things, and help with muscle movement because sweet potatoes contain the nutrient Choline. Choline also helps in the absorption of fat and helps in the reduction of chronic inflammation.
Sweet potatoes are also high in dietary fiber which helps you to keep a healthy digestive tract. Additionally, they're a great source of potassium, and when it comes to lowering and maintaining your blood pressure, a diet high in potassium may be just as important as lowering your sodium intake.
As always, a well balanced diet is best. There is no one food that can solve everything. All of these facts about the amazing benefits of sweet potatoes are great, but be careful. Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. You should always consult a health care professional when making significant changes to your diet, especially if you are on medication such as beta-blockers.