Sweet Potatoes, also known as yams, are tuberous crops with the scientific name Ipomoea Batatas. Its plant is a creeper with heart-shaped or lobed leaves. The tubers color vary from purple or red to pale yellow or white, depending upon the variety, soil type, climate and available minerals.
The red variety has drier and harder flesh while the white and yellow types have juicier flesh. The red variety has a characteristic aroma which becomes more prominent on boiling. The more reddish or orange the color of the flesh of the sweet potatoes, the stronger this aroma will be. Perhaps this is due to the presence of beta carotene, whose concentration also increases with the color.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Let’s explore a bit more about the health benefits of sweet potatoes.
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.
Inflammation: Like the common potato, sweet potatoes also have anti-inflammatory properties, although they do not belong to the same family as common potato. This is primarily due to the presence of beta-carotene, vitamin-C and magnesium. It is equally effective in curing internal and external inflammation.
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 also 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. Sweet potatoes are easy to digest as well, since they mainly contain starch. They are soothing for the stomach and intestines, so you will avoid any difficulties of passing or digesting them.
Cancer: Beta-carotene, the champion antioxidant and anticarcinogenic substance, is the pigment responsible for the color of the peel of the sweet potatoes. The beta carotene and vitamin-C contained in sweet potatoes are very beneficial for curing various types of cancer, mainly those of the colon, intestines, prostrate, kidneys and other internal organs.
Water Balance: The fiber or roughage present in sweet potatoes helps the body retain water. This maintains water balance in the body, keeping your hydrated and your cells functioning efficiently.
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. Moreover, the roughage in sweet potatoes prevents constipation and the resultant acid formation, thereby reducing the chance of ulcers. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of sweet potatoes also reduce the pain and inflammation of the ulcers.
Diabetes: Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes are cbeneficial for diabetics. Amazingly, they are very effective in regulating blood sugar levels by helping the proper secretion and function of insulin. Of course, that does not mean that diabetics should eat them indiscriminately. The idea is that sweet potatoes can replace rice or carbohydrate intake as a healthier option.
Weight Gain: This benefit is quite easy to understand. Sweet potatoes are sweet, and they contain very good amounts of complex starch, along with healthy vitamins, minerals and some proteins. Moreover, they are very easy to digest. Thus, they provide a lot of energy and are excellent bulk builders for people looking to gain weight. People who have recently suffered from illnesses, or are self-conscious about being frail or abnormally thin should welcome this news about sweet potatoes, since there are no associated side effects, which most of the synthetic bulk building dietary supplements have.
Other Benefits: They are 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. The high concentration of beta carotene (an alternative form of vitamin-A) and phosphorus are excellent for both ocular and cardiac health.
So, go out and grab a sweet potato for your next meal; they are delicious and nutritious. Yum! Yum! Yam!