Food Fact: Sweet potatoes has the ability to actually improve blood sugar regulation

Blood Sugar Benefits

Many people think about starchy root vegetables as a food group that could not possibly be helpful for controlling their blood sugar. That’s because many people realize that food starches can be converted by our digestive tract into simple sugars. If foods are especially concentrated in starch, there can often be a risk of too much simple sugar release in our digestive tract and too much pressure upon our bloodstream to uptake more sugar. (The result in this situation would be an overly quick elevation of our blood sugar level.) What’s fascinating about sweet potatoes is their ability to actually improve blood sugar regulation—even in persons with type 2 diabetes. While sweet potatoes do contain a valuable amount of dietary fiber (just over 3 grams per medium sweet potato) and if boiled or steamed can carry a very reasonable glycemic index (GI) rating of approximately 50, it may not be either of these factors that explains their unusual blood sugar regulating benefits.

Recent research has shown that extracts from sweet potatoes can significantly increase blood levels of adiponectin in persons with type 2 diabetes. Adiponectin is a protein hormone produced by our fat cells, and it serves as an important modifier of insulin metabolism. Persons with poorly-regulated insulin metabolism and insulin insensitivity tend to have lower levels of adiponectin, and persons with healthier insulin metabolism tend to have higher levels. While more research on much larger groups of individuals to further evaluate and confirm these blood sugar regulating benefits, this area of health research is an especially exciting one for anyone who loves sweet potatoes.

Antioxidant Nutrients in Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes contain a wealth of orange-hued carotenoid pigments. In countries throughout Africa, in India and in the Caribbean, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a highly effective way of providing school age children with sizable amounts of their daily vitamin A. In some studies, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a better source of bioavailable beta-carotene than green leafy vegetables. Because sweet potatoes are available in many countries on a virtual year-round basis, their ability to provide us with a key antioxidant like beta-carotene makes them a standout antioxidant food.

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Sweet Potatoes: Nine Reasons to Eat More

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1. High nutritional value

A 7-ounce (1 cup) serving of sweet potatoes contains 65% of the minimum necessary daily amount of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are also high in calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which converts to Vitamin A in the body: one serving of sweet potatoes can provide you with as much as 700% of the US RDA for Vitamin A. The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one most nutritious vegetable because they such are so nutritionally rich.

2. Low glycemic index

If you are unfamiliar with this term, the glycemic index indicates the impact a food substance has on blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index means blood sugar levels can spike. Diabetes and others who monitor their blood sugar levels seek to avoid foods with a high glycemic index or load. Sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of only 17. (By way of comparison, a white potato has an index of 29.)

3. Accessing sweet potatoes’ nutritional benefits is easy

To gain the maximum health benefits from eating sweet potatoes, avoid discarding their skins — much of their healing potential resides in this portion of the tubers. Also, following the common dieters’ fallacy of avoiding all fats reduces your ability to access sweet potatoes’ benefits: beta-carotene absorbs more thoroughly into the body when consumed with a small amount of fat. Recent research seems to indicate that steaming or boiling sweet potatoes rather than roasting them helps preserve their low glycemic index.

4. Good for your skin

Their high levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene means sweet potatoes are a skin superfood. The substances on many pricey skin-care products like retinol and retinoic acid are actually derived from Vitamin A. Plus beta-carotene combats the free radicals which result skin aging.

5. Sweet potatoes are like yoga

Their high potassium content means sweet potatoes can alleviate muscle cramps which are often related to potassium deficiency. During times of stress, the body uses more potassium, so eating sweet potatoes can help protect you from the negative health effects of tension.

6. Easy to grow in your garden

Starting a vegetable garden is a great way both to reduce your grocery bill now, and to reduce your dependency on grocery stores for the long-term. Sweet potatoes make a good beginner’s garden crop. Although originally native to South America, this type of tuber only requires 100 frost-free days in order to grow, so you do not have to live in the tropics to harvest some of these nutritionally valuable tubers. Sweet potato plants have fewer diseases than other types of potatoes, and they are relatively undemanding plants, requiring little in the way of water or fertilizer. You can read more about growing sweet potatoes here: http://robbwolf.com/2011/04/20/growing-sweet-potatoes/ and here http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/32-1script_en.asp

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/034135_sweet_potatoes_nutrition.html#ixzz24TnVYILS