Dietitians Dish: Sweet potato nutritional facts, its healthy effect

By Che-Hui Chen
Sept. 3, 2013 at 4:03 a.m.

Sweet potato, which is native to Central and South America, is one of the most common starchy vegetables in the United States. However, it might be easily overlooked for its health benefits. The sweet potato is actually a healthy sweet food that was rated one of the 10 best foods to eat by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Do you know what surprising health benefits the sweet potato has? According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, sweet potatoes contain high amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamins B6 and C. They don't contain fat or cholesterol.

Furthermore, the rich, orange sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A. According to research conducted by Dr. Paul J van Jaarsveld, when consuming the carotene-rich, orange-fleshed sweet potato, primary school children have a significant improvement of vitamin A status compared to other children consuming white potatoes.

Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes. The lower glycemic index it has, the slower your blood glucose level rises after eating. In this case, it won't make a quick spike to your blood glucose, which is good for people who have to monitor their blood glucose.

Nowadays, fiber intake is getting people's attention. Fortunately, sweet potato is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which makes you feel full quicker and helps you control your intake.

Another benefit is its high dietary fiber content, which acts as a colon cleanser. Colon cleansing can be done at home with an easy and less aggressive method. By eating the correct foods regularly, such as sweet potato, you can clean your colon, remove toxins and waste from your colon, help regulate your digestive tract and promote good intestinal bacteria growth.

All those things are beneficial for your body. Besides all the health benefits from sweet potato, it is also inexpensive. You can buy it at around 78 cents per pound, and it is available at mostly grocery stores.

There is an easy way to cook your sweet potato: oven-baked. You just need to preheat your oven to 375 degrees, cut the potatoes into pieces, wash and drain them, then season with a little black pepper and salt.

The last step is to bake it for 30-35 minutes until it's browned and crisp, and then you have your yummy, healthy and cheap staple. Try to eat baked sweet potatoes once a week and help your body detoxify.

Che-Hui Chen is a dietetic intern from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.



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