Sweet potatoes are sweet, starchy root vegetables that are grown worldwide between December-January. There are over 400 varieties of sweet potatoes grown from which some of the well-known varieties of sweet potato include orange, white and purple.
They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrients and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese.
Here are 6 surprising health benefits of sweet potatoes:
1. Highly nutritious
Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Especially the orange and purple varieties of sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage DNA and trigger inflammation. Free radical damage has been linked to chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and aging. Therefore, eating antioxidant-rich foods is good for your health.
2. Promote gut health
Sweet potatoes contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble, but our bodies cannot digest it. The fiber and antioxidants in sweet potatoes can be beneficial for gut health. Some soluble and insoluble fibers can also be fermented by the bacteria in your colon, creating compounds called short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells of your intestinal lining and keep them healthy and strong.
Fiber-rich diets containing 20-33 g of fiber per day have been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer and more regular bowel movements. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes may provide gut benefits as well.
3. Have cancer-fighting properties
Sweet potatoes offer various antioxidants, which may help protect against certain types of cancer.
Anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants found in purple sweet potatoes, have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells, including those of the bladder, colon, stomach, and breast. Similarly, mice fed diets rich in purple sweet potatoes showed lower rates of early-stage colon cancer, suggesting that the anthocyanins in potatoes may have a protective effect.
4. Support healthy vision
Sweet potatoes are incredibly rich in beta-carotene, the antioxidant responsible for the vegetable’s bright orange colour. Eating foods rich in beta carotene, such as orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, may help prevent vitamin A deficiency. Purple sweet potatoes also seem to have vision benefits. The pigment anthocyanins present in purple sweet potatoes protect eye cells from damage, which may be significant to overall eye health.
5. May enhance brain function
Consuming purple sweet potatoes may improve brain function. Anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes can help protect the brain by reducing inflammation and preventing free radical damage.
6. May support your immune system
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are one of the richest natural sources of beta-carotene, a plant-based compound that converts to vitamin A in your body.
Vitamin A is crucial to maintain a healthy immune system and low blood levels have been linked to reduced immunity. It’s also a key for maintaining healthy mucous membranes, especially in the lining of your gut. The gut is where your body is exposed to many potential disease-causing pathogens.