Eating healthy can be a sweet experience. Sweet potatoes, a starchy vegetable with a creamy, sweet taste, have fewer calories than white potatoes and pack a major punch of nutrients and antioxidants, according to LiveScience.
The flavor and texture of sweet potatoes make them perfect for pies or a sweeter side dish, but they offer so many health benefits that they often top the list of healthiest foods, such as this one from Real Simple. Below are 5 key health benefits:
1. Blood sugar control
Your blood sugar and energy levels are very closely related. Sweet potatoes help provide the sweet-tooth satisfaction without sending your blood sugar through the roof. The natural sugar in a sweet potato enters your bloodstream slowly, which offers a more steady source of energy without the sugar crash, according to Care2.
Additionally, the Japanese have created a dietary supplement using a white-skinned sweet potato to help control blood sugar levels in diabetics. Researchers have discovered that a North Carolina sweet potato has similar properties to the one used in the Japanese supplement, according to LiveScience.
2. Nutrient dense
The sweet potato contains nutrients such as iron (which aids in the production of red and white blood cells,) vitamin D (which helps boost the immune system and the thyroid gland), magnesium (known for its anti-stress properties) and potassium (which helps regulate your heartbeat,) according to Care2.
3. May reduce risk of cancer
Sweet potatoes (particularly the orange kind) contain measurable levels of beta-carotene which may reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In addition, researchers have shown that purple sweet potatoes may slow cancer cell growth, according to LiveScience.
4. Helps with digestion
4. Helps with digestion
Sweet potatoes are a high-fiber food which can help your body regulate the digestion process and ease tummy troubles, according to LiveScience.
5. A word of advice
Sweet potatoes contain many essential nutrients, however, they are a high carbohydrate food (especially for a vegetable) and contain about 100 calories per serving. In addition, if you have a history of kidney stones, doctors recommend that you skip the sweet potatoes as this calcium-oxalate rich food may contribute to kidney stone formation, notes LiveScience.
If you notice your skin or nails looking a bit orange, cut back on the amount of sweet potatoes you eat as the high levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene may be leaving you looking a little more like a pumpkin then you'd like, adds LiveScience.