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Powerfoods: Sweet Potato

Sweet potato

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is one of the oldest vegetables known to mankind. Scientists believe that sweet potato was domesticated thousands of years ago in Central America. After his first voyage to the Americas in 1492, Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes back home to Europe. The crop was introduced into China in the late 16th century and spread through Asia, Africa, and Latin America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Sweet potato is not a potato; and, yam and sweet potato are not the same. As a crop it is totally different from a potato (Solanum tuberosum) and from a yam -“nyami”(Dioscoreaceae).

  • Diabetics can eat sweet potatoes without worry as these tubers have a low glycemic index
  • It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity, and is essential in helping us cope with stress
  • Sweet potatoes contain iron which besides providing energy, plays other important roles including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things
  • The B Vitamins, Vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, and calcium in sweet potato help in the healing of stomach ulcers
  • One medium sweet potato provides your body with the complete recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A and then some. Vitamin A is useful in the prevention of several different types of cancer as it is one of the most potent antioxidants out there
  • A good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function
  • The fibre in sweet potatoes helps prevent constipation and acidity, consequently reducing the possibility of ulcers. The anti-inflammatory properties of sweet potatoes also soothe the pain and inflammation of ulcers
  • High Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth. It also supports the thyroid gland
  • Antioxidants abound in sweet potatoes, which also have anti-inflammatory properties. The beta-carotene and Vitamin C in these tubers work together to rid the body of cancer-friendly free radicals
  • A good source of Vitamin C important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, and plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation
  • High in Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including the prevention of heart attacks

Warning

If you suffer from kidney or gallbladder ailments, talk with your doctor or health care professional about a recommended intake of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain a small amount of oxalates, which in high concentrations can cause kidney damage

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