Health benefits of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas)
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) [ref. 1] are usually recognized by their copper-colored bark and bright orange color. In fact, there are other varieties grown all over the world, with colors such as white, creamy, yellow, reddish-purple, and saturated purple.
True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet taste, which is further enhanced by cooking methods such as baking. They are also one of the best sources of beta-carotene - a precursor to vitamin A. Sweet potatoes contain plenty of other carotene pigments. In some studies, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a better source of bioavailable beta-carotene than green leafy vegetables. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, which means they have the power to protect your cells from daily damage. [ref. 2]
Ipomoea batatas are also sources of anti-inflammatory nutrients, soluble and insoluble fiber, and other beneficial components of different actions.
Vitamins and minerals in abundance
Only one sweet potato gives you 400% of the vitamin A you need every day. This helps to keep your eyes healthy as well as the immune system in optimal conditioning. Also, vitamin A is useful for the reproductive system and organs such as the heart and kidneys.
Sweet potatoes are rich in the following nutrients:
- Vitamins of group B
- Vitamin C
Fiber and antioxidants in sweet potatoes are good for gut health. Sweet potatoes contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. [ref. 3] These components contribute to good peristalsis and regular bowel movements, and maintenance of digestive function and processes.
In this regard, in vitro studies have found that antioxidants in several types of sweet potatoes promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including certain types of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. [Ref. 4]
Potential anticancer properties of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide a variety of antioxidants that can help protect against certain cancers. Anthocyanins - a group of antioxidants found in purple sweet potatoes - can slow down the growth of certain types of cancer cells in in vitro studies, including those of bladder, colon, stomach and breast cancer. [Ref. 5]
Animal studies have found that anthocyanins can protect the brain by reducing inflammation and preventing damage from free radicals. It is important to note that no studies have been conducted to test these effects in humans, but overall diets rich in fruits, vegetables and antioxidants are associated with a 13% lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
How to cook a sweet potato
First of all, it is important to clean sweet potatoes before use if you leave the crust for a certain recipe. If you're not going to cook them right after peeling or chopping, dip them in cold water to prevent discoloration.
Baked sweet potato, like a baked potato, should be cooked in a medium-hot oven for about 45 minutes. For a microwave, prepare like a baked potato, but cook over high heat for 10 minutes, turning once during cooking. Grilling sweet potatoes is another great method that will accentuate their great taste.
What foods get along with sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes partner well with spicy flavors, so they can be a side dish seasoned with curry powder, cumin, chili, black pepper, paprika, citrus juice, and ginger, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. Iron-rich spinach and earthy beetroot suit the natural sweetness of potatoes, as well as meat with a strong taste such as lamb and duck.