Nutritional Profile: Sweet Potatoes

A lot of the times, the problem with healthy eating is that people simply don’t know what they’re putting in their body.  Whether it’s a healthy or unhealthy product, they simply don’t know what is in it and what makes it good or bad.  While I do have a pretty good knowledge on healthy foods, I’m not completely exempt from this.  That’s why I’m starting this Nutritional Profile for you.  Every week I’ll pick a food product and give you a relatively in depth look at not only what the food’s nutrient/vitamin/mineral composition consists of, but also how it applies to your health.  This week, I’m choosing one of my favorite foods: the sweet potato.

Kumara

  • Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene. Several recent studies have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. This benefit may be particularly true for children. In several studies from Africa, sweet potatoes were found to contain between 100-1,600 micrograms (RAE) of vitamin A in every 3.5 ounces—enough, on average, to meet 35% of all vitamin A needs, and in many cases enough to meet over 90% of vitamin A needs (from this single food alone).
  • Sweet potatoes are not always orange-fleshed on the inside but can also be a spectacular purple color. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell from the skin of sweet potato just how rich in purple tones its inside will be. That’s because scientists have now identified the exact genes in sweet potatoes (IbMYB1 and IbMYB2) that get activated to produce the purple anthocyanin pigments responsible for the rich purple tones of the flesh. The purple-fleshed sweet potato anthocyanins—primarily peonidins and cyanidins—have important antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory properties. Particularly when passing through our digestive tract, they may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. For more details on purple-fleshed and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, please see our Description section below.
  • It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable. Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Of course, this minimal amount of fat can be very easy to include. In our Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, for example, we include 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and with just this one tablespoon, each of our 4 servings for this delicious recipe provides 3.5 grams of fat.

 

What’s in it:

Sweet Potato, baked
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
1.00 medium
(200.00 g)
GI: medium
BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Protein 4.02 g 8.04
Carbohydrates 41.42 g 18.41
Fat – total 0.30 g
Dietary Fiber 6.60 g 26.40
Calories 180.00 10.00

Health benefits:

Serves as  a source of key antioxidants, such as beta-carotene.  Antioxidants are important for killing free radicals throughout our bodies, which have a known association with the development of cancer.

Helps reduce inflammation and promotes healthy blood clotting

Helps regulate blood sugar levels.  The fiber content helps to steady the digestion process, preventing blood sugar from rising too quickly

 

How to Cook:

Optimal for nutritional value and taste – Steaming allows you to cook quickly while avoiding submersion in water.  Submersion allows for water-soluble vitamins to leak out

Other methods – boiling, baking, stir-fry

 

For a very full, very in-depth profile of sweet potatoes, click here

 

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