You might be surprised to learn that sweet potatoes are not just a delicious side dish to enjoy at thanksgiving, but they are also a healthy treat to eat all year round.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vital nutrients and are full of many health benefits[i] such as they are high in fiber and rich antioxidants that can protect your body from free radicals and damage. They also promote a healthy brain and gut.
But did you know that sweet potatoes are not really potatoes? They are actually sweet roots from the morning glory family[ii]. And you should know that Native Americans grew and enjoyed sweet potatoes long before Columbus ever stepped foot in America, but they were also grown in Peru as early as 750 B.C[iii].
There are hundreds of different varieties of sweet potatoes: yellow, red, purple, and some even have a white or cream-colored flesh. The most popular sweet potatoes that are sold in stores are the “Covington’s”. They have a pink skin with bright orange pulp.
Sweet potatoes are known as a “superfood” and here are six surprising facts about these sweet roots that just might surprise you:
1. Fights cancer: Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids which may lower your chance of getting cancer. Purple sweet potatoes are high in anthocyanin, a natural compound that can lower your risk of colorectal cancer, liver disease, and other serious health problems.
2. Fights heart disease: One medium-size sweet potato holds four grams of fiber, including soluble fiber. Research shows that consuming sweet potatoes can lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) therefore also lowering your chances of getting heart disease.
3. Diabetes: Sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index (GI) and could help you to control your blood sugar. They also contain magnesium, folate, and vitamin B-6 along with other properties that may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Reduces systemic inflammation: Sweet potatoes have beta-carotene which is an antioxidant and a dietary compound that reduces systemic inflammation in the body. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C, another known antioxidant.
5. Macular degeneration: Sweet potatoes not only contain high amounts of beta-carotene but also vitamin A. This can significantly lower your chances of getting macular degeneration disease which can cause vision loss and blindness. Vitamin A has also been linked to studies showing a reduced risk of age-related cataracts.
6. Could extend longevity: Surprisingly, the beta-carotene found in sweet potatoes could mean more candles on your birthday cake. One report published in 2016 in Scientific Reports concluded that a higher beta-carotene intake significantly linked with a decreased risk of death from any health cause.
Whether you eat them mashed, boiled, baked, or puréed, sweet potatoes are a top choice to maintaining and meeting your many healthcare and fitness goals.
Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She is well-versed in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies with a focus on health and wellness, fashion and beauty, and natural healing as it pertains to the body, mind, and the soul. She is also a romance writer and the author of Passion of Flames.
[i] Julson, E. (2023, July 13). 6 surprising health benefits of sweet potatoes. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-benefits#supports-immunity [ii] Visit. Carnegie Museum of Natural History. (n.d.). https://carnegiemnh.org/potatoes-sweet-potatoes-yams-whats-difference/ [iii] Harbster, J. (2010, November 24). A sweet potato history: Inside adams. The Library of Congress. https://blogs.loc.gov/inside_adams/2010/11/a-sweet-potato-history/