Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrition—and flavour! If they’re not a regular part of your diet quite yet, we’re going to give you 7 reasons why they should be. Plus at the end, we’ll give you some links to some of our favourite sweet potato recipes.
Many people think that sweet potatoes are much healthier than their white potato counterpart. Both definitely have benefits, but the two may be less related than you thought. White potatoes are related to vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and their leaves are actually poisonous. They are in what’s called the solanaceae family. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, belong to the convolvulaceae family, and you can actually eat the leaves of sweet potatoes. Another thing to note is that sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing—they are very different vegetables.
So what actually makes sweet potatoes good for you? Some people even tout sweet potatoes as a superfood—but why? Let’s dive in and find out with these 7 reasons.
Vitamin A: in just 1 cup of sweet potato, you get 214% of your daily recommended vitamin A. That means even if you cut that serving in half, you still get over 100% of the daily recommended intake. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in so many functions of the body, including bone growth, reproduction, and immune system health. It helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses, and is vital to vision health. If you need some vitamin A, sweet potatoes are one of the foods with the highest content.
Vitamin C: before we get off the vitamin train, let’s talk about vitamin C. In that same 1 cup serving, you’ll get 52% of your daily recommended intake for vitamin C. Vitamin C is often touted for its immune boosting properties, and indeed is recommended for when you start to get that scratchy throat or the sniffles. However, vitamin C is also a vital vitamin for your adrenal glands. Your adrenals are your body’s largest repository of vitamin C. When you’re lacking this vitamin, your adrenal glands suffer, your stress-a-bility plummets, and you start to head towards exhaustion and burnout. Supporting your adrenal glands with the right vitamins and nutrients, like vitamin C, is key! Also, did you know that vitamin C helps to facilitate the absorption of iron in the body? This has another impact on your energy levels and overall health.
Manganese:this might be a mineral that you don’t often think about, but it plays a role in so many functions of the body that you’re going to want to start to make sure you get enough – and sweet potatoes can help you there! In 1 cup of sweet potato, you’ll find 50% of your daily recommended intake of manganese. What does this mean for your health? Manganese plays an important role in bone health in many ways by supporting the structure and metabolism of bones, and also creating essential enzymes for building bones. It also plays a role in the proper functioning of your thyroid gland, which is like a toggle switch turning cellular machinery on and off. Your thyroid gland is the master of your metabolism, meaning manganese impacts that, too! Lastly, it acts as an antioxidant to help combat free radicals, which can cause certain diseases and premature aging. Get your fill of this mineral with the deliciousness of sweet potato.
Copper: do you know the role that copper plays in your health? With 36% of your daily recommended intake in just 1 cup, sweet potatoes can help you get your fill of copper. Copper has a hand to play in so many functions, including the proper utilization of iron, healthy connective tissues, healthy eyes and hair, balanced thyroid glands, reduced cholesterol, proper enzymatic function, and so much more.
Antioxidants: as we’ve mentioned briefly above, sweet potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants, especially beta carotene. They have a lot of carotenoid pigments in which beta carotene resides, and the antioxidant value is important for many reasons. Antioxidants are natural disease-fighters by working to combat free radicals throughout the body. In particular, the beta carotene antioxidants in sweet potatoes are very beneficial for eye health. It’s just not carrots that are good for that! But antioxidants also help to fight premature aging which can result from free radical damage, meaning your sweet potato dish might actually help you look and feel younger.
Anti-Inflammatory:sweet potatoes have a lot of colour, and that colour does more than look pretty in your stir fry! Those colour pigments contain anthocyanin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can act on inflammation you have throughout the body.
Katie has worked in the natural health & wellness industry for over 10 years and is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She is passionate about eating #feelgood food and recognized that this might look different for each and every person. She truly believes that in a healthy lifestyle, you can have your cake and eat your kale, too! Follow her on Instagram @katielmitts