Packed with antioxidants and full of fiber, this tasty, orange complex carbohydrate is also high in vitamin-A, an antioxidant that keeps skin fresh, smooth and clear.
(The topical version of vitamin-A, a derivative known as tretinoin, is the main ingredient in many prescription acne and wrinkle creams,)
Can Help With:
Reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer
Sweet potatoes are more than just a filling food though.
As a member of the morning glory family (except in name, they're not related to yams or potatoes), they contain, a full trio of well-known antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamins-C and E.
This means that they can play a role in preventing cancer and heart disease.
And because they're rich in complex carbohydrates and low in calories, there are 117 calories in a 4-ounce serving, experts recommend them for controlling weight and weight-related conditions like diabetes.
A Package of Protection
Experts often recommend sweet-potatoes for their high amounts of beta—carotene.
A 4 oz. serving will provide more than 11 mg. of beta-carotene.
They're an easy way to get the heart-health and cancer-fighting benefits into your diet.
As do vitamins-C, E and other antioxidants, beta-carotene helps protect the body from harmful oxygen molecules known as free radicals.
Eating this super vegetable and other foods rich in beta-carotene helps neutralize these molecules before they damage various parts of the body, such as the blood vessels or certain parts of the eye.
In a study of almost 1,900 men, researchers found that men who had the most carotenoids in their blood, not just beta-carotene, but also such things as lutein and zeaxanthin, had 72 percent fewer heart attacks than those with the lowest levels.
Even smokers, who need all the protection they can get, showed the benefits.
In fact, those who got the most of these protective compounds, had 25 percent fewer heart attacks than those who got the least.
Sweet-potatoes are also a rich source of vitamin-C, with a 4 oz. serving providing 28 mg, nearly half the Daily Value (DV).
In addition, the same-size serving provides 6 international units (IU) of vitamin-E, 20 percent of the DV.
That’s a very difficult nutrient to get from natural sources.
The oblong sweet potato bears a strong resemblance to the pancreas, and also promotes healthy function in the organ.
Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which is a potent antioxidant that protects all tissues of the body, including the pancreas, from damage associated with cancer or aging.
In the Kitchen
Because they're cured (meaning that they're kept in high humidity and temperatures for about a week and a half) by growers before they are shipped to market, sweet-potatoes are excellent keepers and will stay fresh for about a month after you bring them home from the store.
It’s important however, to store them carefully to prevent them from going bad.
Keep them cool.
They should be stored in cellars, pantries, or basements, where temperatures stay around 45 to 55F.
(Don’t put them in the refrigerator, since this shortens their shelf life.)
When sweet-potatoes are stored at room temperature, they’ll keep for about a week.
Store them dry.
They will spoil once they get wet.
That’s why it’s best to store them dry, then wash them only when you’re ready to start cooking.
Treat them gently.
They spoil quickly when they get cut or bruised, so don’t buy them if they look damaged.
At home, treating them gently will help ensure their longevity.
Controlling Blood Sugar
Since sweet-potatoes are a good source of fiber, they’re a very healthful food for people with diabetes.
The fiber indirectly helps lower blood sugar levels by slowing the rate at which food is converted into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.
And because sweet-potatoes are high in complex carbohydrates, they can help people control their weight, which also helps keep diabetes under control.
The connection between weight and blood sugar levels is not a casual one.
About 85 percent of people with Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes are overweight, statistics show.
Since they're so satisfying, you’re less likely to reach for other, fattier foods.
The resulting weight loss can cause a dramatic improvement.
In fact, even losing 5 or 10 pounds will help some people maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Good for the Mind
In addition to fiber and antioxidant vitamins, sweet-potatoes also contain the B vitamins folate and B.
These are the vitamins that may give the brain a boost in performing some of its functions, which can diminish as we age.
In a study at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, researchers looked at the levels of folate and vitamins-B6 and B12 in the blood of 70 men ages 54 to 81.
Men with low levels of folate and B12 had higher levels of an amino acid called homocysteine.
High levels of homocysteine were linked to poorer performances on spatial tests such as copying a cube or a circle or identifying patterns.
Getting the Most
Shop for color.
When buying them, always choose those with the most intense, lush orange color.
The richer the color, the greater the jolt of beta-carotene.
Have a little fat.
While some vitamins dissolve in water, beta-carotene requires the presence of fat to get through the intestinal wall.
In most cases you’ll get the necessary amount of fat, usually 5 to 7 grams, in other foods you’ll be having with your meal.
Extra Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges
This delicious recipe is a tastier alternative to the usual French fries.
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Cut the ends of the sweet potato and cut them in half (lengthwise), then cut each piece into wedges.
2. Add the wedges to a large bowl and combine with olive oil, salt, sugar, seasoning and black pepper.
Combine well, coating each wedge with oil and spices.
3. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet, spacing them apart and bake for 30 minutes.
Then, turn on the broiler and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.
The potatoes should be brown and crispy.
Be sure that they do not burn!
Cool for 5 minutes, serve and enjoy.Tweet
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