What's New and Beneficial About Sweet Potatoes?
- Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be one of nature's unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene. Several recent studies have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. This benefit may be particularly true for children. In several studies from Africa, sweet potatoes were found to contain between 100-1,600 micrograms (RAE) of vitamin A in every 3.5 ounces; enough, on average, to meet 35% of all vitamin A needs, and in many cases enough to meet over 90% of vitamin A needs (from this single food alone).
- Sweet potatoes are not always orange-fleshed on the inside but can also be a spectacular purple color. Sometimes it's impossible to tell from the skin of sweet potato just how rich in purple tones its inside will be. That's because scientists have now identified the exact genes in sweet potatoes (IbMYB1 and IbMYB2) that get activated to produce the purple anthocyanin pigments responsible for the rich purple tones of the flesh. The purple-fleshed sweet potato anthocyanins, primarily peonidins and cyanidins, have important antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory properties. Particularly when passing through our digestive tract, they may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
- It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable. Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Of course, this minimal amount of fat can be very easy to include. Use one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
- Some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes simply may be easier to achieve if you use steaming or boiling as your cooking method. Recent studies show excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins with steaming, and several studies comparing boiling to roasting have shown better blood sugar effects (including the achievement of a lower glycemic index, or GI value) with boiling. Anthocyanins have great health benefits as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
- Most dry beans and tubers have their own unique storage proteins. Soybeans have glycinins, potatoes have patatins, and yams have dioscorins. While researchers have long been aware of sporamins-storage proteins in sweet potato, only recently has research shown some of their unique antioxidant properties. The potential health benefits of the sweet potato sporamins in helping prevent oxidative damage to our cells should not be surprising since sweet potatoes produce sporamins whenever subjected to physical damage to help promote healing.
Source: George Mateljan (whfoods.com)
Researchers Reveal Sweet Potato as Weapon Against Diabetes.
As healthy food goes, it's hard to beat the sweet potato. Packed with important vitamins like A, C and B6, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium and iron. Now, recent research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has confirmed that sweet potatoes are a low-glycemic index (GI) food, which is good news for diabetics.
The glycemic index measures how quickly certain foods release carbohydrates into the body. High-GI foods cause blood sugar levels to spike, while low-GI foods release glucose slowly into the bloodstream.
Dr. Jon Allen, CALS professor of food science; Dr. Van Den Truong, USDA-ARS food scientist and assistant professor of food science at N.C. State; and Dr. Masood Butt, a visiting scientist and associate professor from the University of Agriculture in Pakistan, along with students and other scientists, conducted a study that confirms the recognized low GI of sweet potato.
The team also discovered that the Beauregard variety of sweet potatoes - which makes up about 85 percent of the production in North Carolina - has essentially the same protein patterns as a commercial dietary supplement known as Caiapo, marketed to control blood glucose in diabetics. Developed by Japanese scientists, Caiapo is derived from the peel of white-skinned sweet potatoes, which have been consumed in Japan for many years as a remedy for anemia, hypertension, and diabetes.
The researchers found that the protein content of the flesh of the Beauregard sweet potato was higher than that of the peel. This suggests that the entire vegetable could play a role in lowering blood glucose in diabetics: the peel, as processed into a nutritional supplement like Caiapo; and the flesh, as a simple addition to the everyday diet.
"With further research in this area, it may be possible to recommend that people with diabetes or insulin resistance, consume sweet potatoes or use extracts of North Carolina sweet potato to help control blood glucose," Allen says in the project report. "This therapy should cost less than conventional drugs, and it may have fewer side effects."
The study is funded by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, the Higher Education Commission and the Government of Pakistan, where collaborators conducted similar research on sweet potato varieties grown in that country.
"We're hoping that diet, particularly the consumption of sweet potatoes, will become a more widely used tool in the treatment of diabetes," Allen says. "It has the potential to be more cost-effective than drugs."
Source: Suzanne Stanard (projects.ncsu.edu)
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