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Sweet potatoes lower blood sugar and 4 other amazing benefits

Tracy Woolrich's picture
Sweet potatoes help reduce blood sugar levels

It is a well-known fact that sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene and is an excellent source of vitamin A. However many people will shy away from them as a side dish due to the thought of it being too high in sugar. Despite the fact that they are primarily a carbohydrate they are also high in fiber and can actually help stabilize your blood sugar and lower insulin resistance. That is great news for type two diabetics. They actually only have a glycemic index rating of less than 50 which makes it a good choice for diabetics. After you read more about this you may decide to double up on this holiday side dish as well as plan to serve them year round.

How absolutely sweet it is to know that something so delectable is actually good for you. As an insulin resistant diabetic myself I am always looking for ways to eat healthy and yet not feel deprived. I mean honestly a baked sweet potato tastes like a dessert to me. I add a small amount of organic butter and sprinkle with cinnamon which is also known for its effect on sugar metabolism. Many think that as carbohydrate sweet potatoes are a forbidden fruit so to speak for a diabetic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Plus it has so many unique nutritional benefits to offer in every single bite.

Sweet potatoes are abundant in adiponectin. According to the National Institutes of Health, adiponectin is a very specific protein type hormone that plays a large role in the development of insulin resistance. It normally circulates in high concentrations in the average weight population however the amount is lower in individual’s that are obese. During research adiponectin levels were reduced prior to the development of type 2 diabetes, and administration of this protein has been effective in lowering plasma glucose levels as well as increasing insulin sensitivity. The way it is thought to produce this effect it through an increase in fatty acid oxidation and inhibition of glucose production in the liver. This may eventually lead to a potential treatment for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. In the meantime eat more sweet potatoes!

Other health benefits

Health benefits for GI tract

Research has shown that the phytonutrients cyanidins and peonidins may reduce heavy metals and oxygen radicals. That risk reduction is especially important for individuals that have irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. There is also evidence that the B-complex, calcium, potassium and beta-carotene that sweet potatoes contain may help heal stomach ulcers. In addition it may assist with the potential risk posed by heavy metal s like mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

Health benefits for lungs
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A which may help individuals that are exposed to second hand smoke. Smokers and those people who inhale smoke require an increase in vitamin A in order to protect their lungs. As luck would have it a sweet potato can provide nearly 90 percent of a person’s daily requirement of vitamin A.

Health benefits for blood and circulation
The phytonutrients in sweet potatoes have a big impact on fibrinogen. Fibrinogen is required for proper blood clotting. In recent animal studies, intake of sweet potato extracts has been shown to reduce inflammation and reduction of inflammation and balance fibrinogen levels. This is good news for veins, arteries and clotting factors.

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Health benefits for infection
In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C, in some lab studies sweet potato glycosides have been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. To what extent these it can provide us with true antibacterial and antifungal protection is still not yet clear. Additional studies are needed.

Nutritional content
The average sweet potato has less than 100 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber each. It contains no fat and is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It has the calorie composition of a complex carbohydrate with a higher amylose to amylopectin ratio than white potatoes. Amylose raises the blood sugar levels slowly in comparison to other carbohydrates. They are an excellent source of flavonoids such as beta-carotene and vitamin A with a whopping 14187 IU of vitamin A and 8509 µg of β-carotene. Consumption of vegetables and fruits rich in these types of flavonoids may help to protect individuals from lung and oral cavity cancers. In addition they are packed with many essential vitamins such as vitamin C, B-5, B-6, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin. They are also an excellent source for calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and potassium. These minerals are important for proper enzyme, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Lesser known facts
Sweet potatoes are native to Central America and South America. They have an ancient history with discoveries in Peruvian caves dating back 10,000 years.

Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first in 1492.

In order to receive the full benefit of the beta carotene, it is important to have some fat in your sweet potato containing meal. Research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene. This is easily done through 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on a salad.

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place. Do not store in the refrigerator. Store them in a paper bag with holes in it to allow for ventilation. Do NOT store in a plastic bag.

Take home message
Sweet potatoes are a healthy choice for everyone including diabetics. However because they do contain moderate amounts of oxalates, individuals with kidney or gallbladder disorders may want to check with their healthcare professional before adding it to their diet. Some sensitive individuals may find that eating sweet potatoes may increase the risk of oxalate crystal kidney and gall stones.