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Sweet Potato – The Delicious Healthy Alternative
Sweet potato is a native American plant that was the main source of food and nourishment during the Revolutionary War. These tuberous roots are packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. They are readily available, inexpensive, and delicious.
They are a rich source of flavonoid anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that are essential for optimal health. It is grown throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions. The crop requires just sufficient water and attention for their cultivation. It has a smooth outer skin whose color ranges from red, purple, brown, and white, depending up on the variety.
They are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including the prevention of heart attacks.
They are a good source of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that this crucial vitamin plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity, and is essential to helping us cope with stress.
They contain Vitamin D which is critical for immune system and overall health at this time of year. Both a vitamin and a hormone, vitamin D is primarily made in our bodies as a result of getting adequate sunlight. Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the thyroid gland.
Sweet potato contains iron. Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.
Sweet potato is a good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function.
They are a source of potassium, one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.
Sweet potato is naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.
They contain plenty of antioxidants. The beta-carotene and vitamin C in these tubers work together to rid the body of cancer-friendly free radicals. Free radicals are necessary for some biological functions, including vascular tone control. However, free radicals can also cause damage in reactions with DNA, and antioxidants work to lessen and then repair damage caused by these free radical exchanges.
Sweet potato boosts immune system. Being very rich in beta carotene, which is a major antioxidant, along with vitamin-C and B-complex vitamins, iron and phosphorus, sweet potatoes are excellent immune system boosters that can defend your body from a wide variety of conditions and afflictions.
Ailments Cured by Sweet Potato
Asthma: Sweet potatoes are effective for curing congestion of the nose, bronchi and lungs, thereby giving relief from asthma. Its typical aroma helps in this property.
Bronchitis: The concentration of vitamin-C, iron and other nutrients help to cure bronchitis. Sweet potatoes are believed to be capable of warming up the body, possibly due to the sweetness and other nutrients that impact body temperature. This property is beneficial for people suffering from bronchitis, along with its powerful effect on congestion.
Arthritis: Beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin-B complex make sweet potatoes a hugely important food source for managing arthritis. The water where sweet potatoes are boiled can also be applied externally on joints to ease the associated pain of arthritis.
Digestion: The fiber content of sweet potatoes is higher than that of common potatoes and they taste good too! When these two factors are combined with other minerals like magnesium, which is present in sweet potatoes, it makes an excellent facilitator for digestion.
Stomach Ulcers: Sweet potatoes have a soothing effect on the stomach and the intestines. B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium and calcium are all very effective in curing stomach ulcers.
Diabetes: Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes are beneficial for diabetics. Amazingly, they are very effective in regulating blood sugar levels by helping the proper secretion and functioning of insulin.
They are also effective for helping people quit addictions like smoking, drinking and taking certain narcotics. They are good for the health of the arteries and veins, as they protect their walls against hardening.
There are versatile in the ways you can eat them. Try them roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients. Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods.