By Deline Tan
When was the last time that you have sweet potatoes? Probably you have more potatoes than sweet potatoes for the last one month. People are not so acquainted with sweet potatoes because it is treated as a dessert more than a food. However, sweet potato has one of the highest antioxidant anthocyanins than any other root vegetables. It has high amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Manganese, Copper, Dietary fibre, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Iron.
Sweet potato comes in varied colours, as there are white skin, crèam, yellow, orange and purple. It belongs to the convolvulaceae or morning glory plant family. Although sweet potato is a sweet food but it is a good sugar regulator, which helps stabilised and lower the insulin blood sugar. It has a low glycemic index, that diabetic patient has no problem consuming this root food. It also has good dietary fibre which promotes good healthy digestive tract when eaten with the skin on it. The anti-inflammatory properties help lower potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals, which can be detrimental to health.
Smoking can cause deficiency in Vitamin A. A deficiency in potassium is the caused of muscular cramps and injury for athletes and sweet potato can boost energy for high impact exercises, and helps performances. It also has unsurpassed source of beta-carotene, with ability to raise blood levels of Vitamin A. It also arrests sicknesses like asthma, arthritis and gout, which helps to combat inflammatory problems.
Stress is one of the problems that we are plagued with, and sweet potato can prevent stress, in which anxiety causes the rise of metabolic rate and lowers potassium levels, and with regular consumption of it, can help rebalance the potassium level and normalise the heartbeat.
There are various ways in cooking sweet potatoes and the best methods are steaming and boiling. Steaming brings out the maximum nutrition and flavour. These methods bring out the excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have great health benefits as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutriands. One of the unique antioxidant properties is sporamins, which is a protein present in sweet potatoes.
Roasting and baking are another two methods for cooking sweet potatoes, and studies have found that the glycemic level of the different types of cooking differs. For roasted sweet potatoes, the glycemic index level is 82, baked is 94, and boiled is only 46. Boiling has a favourable impact on the blood sugar regulation, which provides a lower glycemic index value.
Another method is stir-frying, which studies have shown a better absorption of the beta-carotene, along with the fat content. 3.5 grams of fat are sufficient to achieve the beta-carotene bioavailability benefits. A tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil will provide the sufficient fat content.
Fat conversion of beta-carotene into a special form is called micellar. Micelles are specialised collection of molecules that allow fat-soluble substances (like beta-carotene) to move around comfortably in non-fat environments. They can also make it easier for fat-soluble substances to get absorbed from the digestive tract.
Sweet potato is one of the best foods that you can consume once every week. It is healthy and nutritional, and provides the full amount of antioxidant to combat the free radicals in the body. It has higher content of antioxidant than blueberries. It is a food that you cannot go without in order to keep optimum health, and one which is sweet and tasty and marvellously delicious.