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Sweet Potato – The Superfood with Multiple Benefits

Sweet on potatoes, but worried about the calories they contain? It’s time for you to try a healthier alternative. Sweet potatoes, best known as shakarkandi in India, don’t belong to the same tuberous family as the potato. However, their starchy and creamy texture makes them an ideal substitute for regular potatoes in most dishes.

Recently labelled as a superfood, sweet potato is good for the eyes, controls blood pressure, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Types of sweet potato are:

Orange sweet potatoPurple sweet potatoWhite sweet potato

Nutritional Value of Sweet Potato

One Sweet Potato (3.5 ounces or 100 grams) has: 

Calories: 86Water: 77%Protein: 1.6 gramsCarbs: 20.1 gramsSugar: 4.2 gramsFibre: 3 gramsFat: 0.1 gramsSweet potatoes are healthy carbs. It provides long runs of energy when consumed.

Proven Health Benefits Sweet Potato

Some of the health benefits of sweet potatoes include:

Helps Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

The imbalance of blood sugar and insulin in our bodies causes Type 2 Diabetes. However, a specific type of sweet potato is said to improve symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. In addition, there are various reasons to strengthen the claim that sweet potatoes are beneficial to maintain blood sugar levels. 

Caiapo is a type of sweet potato with white skin and flesh. It helps decrease blood sugar levels. It also cuts down on the LDLs (Bad cholesterol) and increases insulin sensitivity.Studies show that sweet potato helps prevent and improve diabetic symptoms by stimulating human immunity.When eaten in moderation, sweet potato can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels even for those with diabetes because of its low glycemic index.Purple Sweet Potatoes have a lower GI (glycemic index) than Orange Sweet Potatoes. They also contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds abundant in dark-coloured fruits, vegetables and grains. It improves insulin resistance, thus improving Type 2 diabetes symptoms.

The Best Source of Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes have the highest amount of beta-carotene, an antioxidant. When digested, it converts into vitamin A. One medium-sized sweet potato contains enough of your daily need for vitamin A. In addition, it includes an antioxidant that helps keep the skin healthy, promotes eye health and builds immunity. 

The intensity of yellow or orange in sweet potato is due to its beta carotene content. In addition, orange sweet potatoes increase Vitamin A in your blood levels.

Packed with Potassium

Sweet potatoes are a good choice if you want to increase your potassium intake. One medium-sized sweet potato contains 541 mg or 12% of your potassium average daily intake. Sweet potatoes come right after Avocado when it comes to potassium enriched foods.

Good Source of Complex Carbohydrates

Sweet Potatoes are low in fat. They pack a small amount of protein and are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. It is also a great source of fibre. Some studies show that increasing dietary fibre can cause weight loss by automatically reducing calorie intake.

Sweet potatoes aren’t just full of flavour – this superfood also packs a powerful nutritional punch! When roasted, a 150g sweet potato contains only 135 calories (31g carb, 3.8 g fibre and no fat), making it a low-calorie, virtually fat-free source of energy.

Full of Fibre

One medium sweet potato with skin provides roughly between 4 to 6 grams of fibre. It is good for digestion and prevents ailments like heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease and constipation. In addition, purple sweet potatoes promote healthy gut bacteria. These include species such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.

Improves Fertility in Women

According to a Harvard Medical School study, plant-based iron can promote fertility. Sweet potatoes contain an adequate amount of iron. Therefore, sweet potatoes may help improve fertility. 

As per studies, anaemia or iron deficiency is a significant cause of infertility. However, sweet potatoes contain a healthy dose of iron. Thus, it is safe to state the effectiveness of sweet potatoes in improving fertility. 

Good source of Choline

Choline, a micronutrient in the B-vitamin family, is found in sweet potatoes. It helps improve sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory, and even reduces chronic inflammation.

Reduces Oxidative Damage

Oxidative Damage of cells may lead to an increased risk of cancer. Sweet potatoes are rich in carotenoids, an antioxidant. It helps reduce oxidative damage and free radicals. As a result, it helps reduce the risk of cancer. In addition, carotenoids help lower the risk of stomach and kidney cancer.

Are you wondering how you can munch on this healthy potato? We’ve got the recipes ready for you!

Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes

Interestingly, some of the best recipes that feature this versatile produce (boiled, baked or even sautéed) are savoury, as a little bit of heat best brings out its sweet-spicy flavour.

Sweet Potato Tikki

Serves – 2 

Preparation time – 15 Minutes

Ingredients

Medium-sized sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed: 3 Onion (finely chopped): 1Green chilli (finely chopped): 1A handful of coriander leaves (Hara Dhania), choppedRed chilli powder: ½ tspGram flour: 2 tbspRice flour: 1 tbspSalt to tasteOlive oil for basting

Method

Mix the mashed sweet potato with onions, coriander leaves and green chilli.Add salt, chilli powder and flour to prepare the dough.Form small tikkis (the size of your palm) of medium thickness with the dough. Brush with olive oil and grill on a flat-based pan until golden brown.Serve hot with green chutney.

Sweet Potato Kheer/Shakarkandi Kheer

The best part of using sweet potato to make kheer is that you don’t need sugar. In this recipe, dates provide additional sweetness.

Serves – 4 

Preparation time – 30 minutes 

Ingredients

Sweet potato, peeled and grated: ¾ cupLow-fat milk: 3 cupsDates, soaked in ¼ cup of hot milk for 15 minutes and ground to a paste: 8Almonds, soaked in warm water, peeled and ground to a paste: 10Cardamom (Elaichi) powder: ¼ tsp Cashews: 5-6  Raisins (soaked and drained): 10 

Method

Heat the milk and bring it to a boil. Add grated sweet potato and let it cook. Stir constantly to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.Once the milk evaporates slightly, check if the sweet potato is cooked (it should feel soft).Once cooked, add almond paste and cook for a few more minutes.Add cardamom powder, dates, cashews and raisins. Mix well and remove from heat.Let it cool, and then refrigerate.Serve chilled.

Sweet Potato Chaat/Shakarkandi chaat

This one’s a great evening snack recipe.

Serves – 4 

Preparation time – 10 minutes 

Ingredients

Sweet potato, boiled, peeled and chopped: 1½-2 cups Black pepper (Kali Mirch) powder: ¼ tsp Cumin (jeera) powder: ½ tsp Red chilli powder to tasteDry mango (amchur) powder to tasteChaat masala powder to tasteLemon juice: 1 tsp A handful of coriander leaves (Hara dhania) for garnishSalt to taste

Method

Add all the ingredients, except lemon juice, to a large bowl and mixDrizzle lemon juice over the ingredients and mix againGarnish with coriander leaves and serve

Sweet Potato and Quinoa salad

Serves – 2

Preparation time – 10 minutes 

Ingredients

Sweet potato cooked, peeled and cubed: 1 cupCoconut, shredded: 1 cup Onion, finely chopped: 1Quinoa, cooked: 1 cupRaisins: 1 tbsp Cashews: ½ cup Black pepper: 1 tsp Red chilli powder: ½ tsp Bay leaf: 1 Salt to taste

Method

Heat some oil in a pan. Add bay leaves and onion, and fry till the onion is translucent.Add pepper, chilli powder, sweet potato and coconut.Fry all the ingredients till the aroma of the coconut kicks-inAdd raisins and cashewsFry till the cashews brown.Add the cooked quinoa and mix well.Cook on a medium flame for 5 minutesServe hot

Sweet Potato: Precautions, Adequate Quantity and Possible Side Effects

People who have coronary or heart diseases should avoid consuming sweet potatoes. Likewise, if you are someone taking beta-blockers, don’t eat this vegetable. Beta-blockers are known to increase potassium, and sweet potatoes also have high potassium concentrations. Hence, it may cause complications for your body.

People with pre-existing kidney problems should avoid sweet potatoes. You should also cut down on potassium intake in such cases. 

Excess consumption of sweet potatoes may cause your nails and skin to appear a little orange.

Q.What is bad about sweet potato?

A: Excess consumption of sweet potatoes can cause an orange tint on your skin. It may also appear on nails

Q. Is sweet Potato good for your diet?

A: Sweet Potatoes are rich in potassium, vitamin A and antioxidants. They are also a good source of fibre. So, having sweet potatoes in your diet gives you a balanced meal.

Q. Is sweet Potato healthier than regular potato?

A: Sweet Potatoes have a much higher content of vitamin A than regular potatoes. They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates. Hence, sweet potatoes are healthier. 

Q. Is boiled sweet potato good for you?

A: Boiled sweet potatoes retain more beta-carotene than frying or baking. Thus boiled sweet potatoes are healthier.

Q. Does sweet potato make you fat?

A: Sweet Potatoes are rich in fibre and promote a healthy gut. They are said to promote weight loss and reduce belly fat.

Q. Is sweet potato good for cholesterol?

A: Sweet Potatoes are said to lower LDLs or bad cholesterol. Thus they reduce odd problems of the heart.

Q. How many sweet potatoes can you eat a day?

A: 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of sweet potatoes is the suggested amount per day.

Q. Is sweet potato high in sugar?

A: Not very high. Orange Sweet Potatoes have a high glycemic rate (GI). However, purple sweet potatoes have a relatively low glycemic index (GI).

Q. Can diabetic patients eat sweet potato?

A: Anthocyanins are naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds. They are found in sweet potatoes and are known to promote Insulin Resistance.

Q.When is the best time to eat sweet potato?

A: Sweet Potatoes are also known as slow carbs. Hence, it is ideal to have them in the morning. It helps you stay energetic and active.

Q.What nutrients are sweet potato high in?

A: Sweet Potatoes are high in vitamin A, potassium and fibre. They also are a good source of antioxidants.

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