The Benefits of Sweet Potato: Is it sweet?

Sweet Potatoes

Many often believe that sweet potatoes, or any other starchy vegetable is considered fattening, or has too much sugar. As a result of this belief, society has been conditioned that carbohydrates are not healthy. In order to fully understand the true meaning of what makes something more/less beneficial to us, we need to understand our bodies physiological processes.  

 

There are endless benefits of consuming sweet potatoes, some of them include: improving gut health, vision, maintaining blood pressure/sugar levels, reduction of free-radicals (cancer cells).

In order to understand of what makes something “fattening” or having “too much sugar” we need to understand the bodies natural response to the digestion of food. Once we understand this concept, we can understand the specific benefits 

What is the exact process of digestion?

  1. Mechanical digestion (chewing): Food enters the mouth and enzymes are used to break down most carbohydrates/some fats
  2. Chemical digestion (stomach): After exiting the esophagus (throat), food will enter the stomach and break down further with the acid in your stomach
  3. Small intestine: Food will be deposited into the small intestine to excrete nutrients from food and water into the bloodstream for use. 
  4. Large intestine: Undigested food, waste products will fill the large intestine to create stool by absorbing water
  5. Rectum: Eventually, stool will be passed through the rectum and the cycle begins again

Now that we understand the function of digestion, we can understand that larger molecules such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins break down into their simple parts. A carbohydrate breaks down into a sugar, a fat breaks down into fatty acids and glycerol and a protein breaks down into amino acids.  

As a result of these processes, if we ingest excess of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, excess weight gain will occur. Why is sweet potato so beneficial? What makes it different than any other vegetable such as a regular potato?

Sweet potato has fiber which slows digestion and has many benefits in our body such as improving gut health and heart health. Sweet potatoes are also high in Vitamin A (beta-carotene) which have many other benefits which will be listed below. Regular potatoes however do not have as much fiber and vitamin A as sweet potatoes. As a result, digestion will change due to less availability of fiber and vitamin A (digestion will be quicker due to less vitamins/nutrients available)

Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

1. Improving gut health

As mentioned previously, since sweet potatoes have a lot of fiber which reduce the risk of constipation and therefore promote healthy digestion.

2. Improving vision/immunity

Sweet potatoes have very beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is responsible for eye health, maintaining healthy tissues (bones, teeth, skin). Vitamin C is responsible for immunity and collagen production which assists Vitamin A in building healthy tissues.

3. Maintaining blood pressure/sugar levels

Sweet potatoes have a lot of potassium which reduce the amount of salt in the body which may help maintain normal levels. They also maintain blood sugar levels by improving insulin’s function of regulation blood sugar by the increased amount of fiber (slows digestion and allows hormones to process properly)

4. Prevention of cancer

Sweet potatoes have a lot of antioxidants which reduce the risk of cancer by destroying cancer cells. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes include vitamin A, and C.

Have we convinced you yet to eat sweet potatoes? It will be sweet if we did!

Nei Jing Chinese Medicine offers some options as well. Acupuncture and Laser Acupuncture have shown to improve digestion/hormonal balance as well as meeting with our Naturopath about how your diet effects your overall quality of life.

Contact us and schedule a consultation with any health related concerns!

02-6506977

Written by Orly Bolender

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: 

“Sweet Potatoes.” The Nutrition Source, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/sweet-potatoes. Accessed 10 Jan. 2021.

“Vitamin A.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002400.htm. Accessed 10 Jan. 2021.

Ware, Megan Rdn. “What’s to Know about Sweet Potatoes?” Medical News Today, Healthline Media UK, 4 Nov. 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/281438#risks.

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