Sweet potato is one of the oldest vegetables known to mankind. It is believed to be in consumption for centuries. It is grown throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions. The tuberous root features oblong/elongated shape with tapering ends has a smooth outer skin whose color ranges from red, purple, brown, and white, depending up on the variety.
Sweet Potato may have originated from either Central America or South America. In Central America, sweet potatoes remnants dating as far as 5000 BC have been found and in South America, about 8000 BC. Today, the main commercial producers of sweet potatoes are China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, India, and Uganda. Sweet potato has been used widely in rural areas in India for its accessibility and its nutritional values.
Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta-carotene , vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium. It is very low in sugar, and in fact is a good blood sugar regulator.
- They are high in vitamin B6 which helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies that has been linked with degenerative diseases, including the prevention of heart attacks.
- They are a good source of vitamin C which not only help ward off cold and flu viruses but also plays an important role in digestion, bone and tooth formation as well as blood cell formation. It produces a substance called collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity. It also helps us cope up with stress and even appears to help protect our body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.
- They contain Vitamin D that increases our energy levels and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth. It supports the thyroid gland as well.
- They contain iron which plays an important role in formation of red and white blood cells, builds strong resistance to stress, helps in proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.
- They are a good source of magnesium which is necessary for healthy artery, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve functioning.
- The concentration of vitamin-C, iron and other nutrients in sweet potato help to cure bronchitis.
- They contain high amount of potassium that plays an important role in lowering blood pressure by removing the excess sodium and regulating fluid balance of the body.
- It is also an important electrolyte that helps regulate the natural rhythm of the heart, and maintains normal function of the brain and central nervous system.
- They help improve our digestive health. The fiber in sweet potatoes may relieve constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- They are effective in quitting addictions like smoking, drinking and taking certain narcotics.
- They are good for the health of arteries and veins, as they protect their walls against hardening. The high concentration of beta carotene (an alternative of vitamin-A) and phosphorus are excellent for ocular and cardiac health.
It is advisable to add sweet potato in our diet.