Have you ever said something, and then after you said it, realized it was true? Like you had never really realized that certain truth until after the words came out of your mouth?
Well, this happened to me while I was sitting around Easter dinner on Sunday. As I finished chewing my second bite of a sweet potato, without thinking I just simply said, “I love sweet potatoes.” And the thing I realize, is that I really do love sweet potatoes. Which is good for me, because there are a plethora of benefits that this bright tuberous veggie offers.
So if you’re like me and sweet potatoes are a part of your diet, read on to find out why you’re making such a great decision for yourself. And if you have yet to make them a part of your diet, this info may have you reconsidering…
- Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals that are super beneficial for your body. One of the most prevalent vitamins in sweet potatoes, however, is beta-carotene which, once consumed, will be converted to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A an important vitamin because it is responsible for things like healthy vision and skin, building strong bones, and fighting inflammation. One sweet potato actually contains something like 500% of your daily recommended Vitamin A needs.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Sweet potatoes also contain anti-inflammatory properties which are so important in a world where we are faced with countless inflammatory triggers at every turn. The rich color hue in certain vegetables, i.e. the bright orange of the sweet potato, is indicative of the levels of antioxidants present of the vegetable. Additionally, with their high level of beta-carotene, and their supply of other key nutrients such as vitamins B, C, and E, you’ll find them on almost any and every list of inflammation fighting foods out there.
- Blood Sugar: Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular white potatoes. What this means is that they raise your blood sugar more slowly and to a lower level than regular potatoes do, and they take longer to digest which ensures more stable levels of blood sugar over time and sustainable energy. This less extreme affect on your blood sugar is important because it will keep you from feeling those blood sugar lows associated with other kinds of carbohydrates and that subsequent need/desire to eat again.
- Fiber: I can’t forget to mention that sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber. Most people actually do not get enough fiber from their diets, and that can be problematic. Adequate amounts of fiber help to ensure that everything progresses smoothly through our digestive system, and it’s important to keep that process running as smoothly as possible not only for our own comfort but because we don’t want our bodies to hold onto anything that it should be excreting. And I’m not just talking about food waste–your body’s ability to maintain hormone balance is also highly dependent on its ability to excrete hormonal waste. If you’re not getting enough fiber, your body can have a hard time ridding itself of hormonal waste and a harder time keeping your hormones in balance.
Sweet potatoes are also super easy to cook if you just want to eat them in a very basic way. You can either stick them in the oven with some aluminum foil–once you start to smell that sweetness, you’ll know they’re close to done. Or, you can pop them in the microwave for time efficiency and convenience. But I also suggest getting creative; try making your own version of sweet potato chips or or wedges roasted in the oven with some olive or coconut oil. Mashed sweet potatoes is also another great alternative.
Maybe even give this recipe for sweet potato brownies a try…
Before you get too excited about the brownies, I want to be honest about the taste–it is reminiscent of sweet potato. So it’s not like the rest of the ingredients totally mask the sweet potato taste or consistency. However, that doesn’t ruin them for me; they still have a strong chocolate-y characteristic due to the cocoa powder. And, knowing that I’m making a healthier choice than a typical brownie makes these brownies enjoyable to me.
A couple fun facts about sweet potatoes …
- Though we often interchange the names “sweet potatoes” and “yams”, there’s a good chance you’ve never actually encountered a yam. Yams grow mainly in Africa and have a rougher look and texture than sweet potatoes do; they also can grow to be several feet long! So, what we have here in America are sweet potatoes despite how they may be labeled or referred to.
- Did you know there is a purple sweet potato out there? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one…but the fact that it’s purple and contains even more nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties than our familiar orange sweet potatoes, has me pretty inspired to find these purple gems.
Leave a comment and let me know about all the fun and creative ways you cook your sweet potatoes and why you incorporate them into your own diet!
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