Originally grown in the Americas, sweet potato is known to have been domesticated more than 8000 years ago.
Sweet potatoes, because of their fibre dense composition have widely been used throughout the Indian subcontinent as a fasting food that satiates hunger for long periods.
Precisely this is the reason why dieticians recommend it in the weight loss diet.
According to celebrity nutritionist Sandhya Gugnani, “Sweet potatoes are nutrition dense food. If you think because of its sweet taste, it should be shunned by people who avoid sugar; one must know that they actually help in lowering blood sugar because of their low glycemic index. It is helpful in controlling blood pressure and prevents constipation because of the high fiber content.”
Power packed super food
Good for the eyes : If you believe in the term ‘superfood’, sweet potatoes fit the bill perfectly. According to a recent research on African kids, it was found that sweet potatoes meet from 35% to 90% requirement of Vitamin A.
Anti-ageing and anti-cancer : Carotenoids present in sweet potatoes are said to have important anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. When passing through digestive tract, this fibrous tuber absorbs dangerous free radicals and heavy metals that might cause cancer.
Studies at Harvard University have proved that there is a reduction of more than 30 percent chance of having lung cancer in people eating foods rich in beta carotenoid.
Prevent stress; control blood pressure, heart-healthy: Rich in Vitamin B6, they have been proved to reduce the risk of cardiovascular ailments. They are rich in magnesium which is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function.
Potassium found in sweet potatoes helps in regulating heartbeat and nerve signals and also in relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the function of kidneys.
Energy rich : As the sugar found in sweet potatoes is slowly released in the blood stream, they are often recommended in diet of athletes and players and those who suffer from low blood pressure.
Healthiest cooking method
It is important to ‘cook’ sweet potatoes before consuming them for better absorption of nutrition.
Boiling : It is a recommended method as consuming boiled and mashed sweet potatoes helps in better assimilation of beta-carotene (vitamin A). In boiled form they have a lower glycemic index and hence is helpful in slow release of sugar in body.
Stir frying: Frying it with 3-4 gm of fat is actually helpful because the nutrients become more active and are easily absorbed by body. But ensure that you do not over do it.
Steaming and roasting: Steaming for 7-8 minutes is sufficient in making nutrients available.
The commonest way of having sweet potatoes is in roasted form because it tastes the best like this. Do not over roast it, and also avoid pouring too much vegetable oil as it may destroy nutrient composition.
When one must avoid it
While diabetics and weight watchers can have it in measured quantities, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems should eat it only after consulting the physician.