Sweet potatoes are starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetables that are grown worldwide. They may both be called ‘potatoes’, but sweet and white potatoes are not actually related. Botanically, the sweet potato belongs to the bindweed family, whereas the white potato sits in the nightshade family.
They are typically in season from October to March and they come in a variety of colours, including orange, purple and white. They are a delicious ingredient for both sweet and savoury recipes and they provide a number of health benefits too! Here below the most important ones:
- Promote Gut Health
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which is advantageous to gut health.
They contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Even if the body cannot digest these fiber, they stay within your digestive tract and provide many gut-related benefits. Some soluble and insoluble fibers can also be fermented by the bacteria in your colon, creating compounds – called short-chain fatty acids – that fuel the cells of your intestinal lining and keep them healthy and strong.
Sweet potatoes, especially the purple ones, provide antioxidants that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- Support Eye Health
Sweet potatoes are incredibly high in beta-carotene, which is responsible for their orange colour. Beta-carotene is a plant-based compound that is converted to vitamin A in our body and used to form light-detecting receptors inside your eyes.
Severe vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness, so eating foods rich in beta-carotene may help prevent this condition and improve eye health.
200g of baked orange sweet potato with skin provide more than seven times the amount of beta-carotene needed by an adult! Choose the delicious organic sweet potatoes in our stores to avoid pesticides and chemicals.
- Support Immune System
Being an excellent source of beta-carotene, sweet potatoes may help support also your immune system. In fact, Vitamin A is critical to a healthy immune system, and a deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to reduced immunity.
Studies have shown that low blood levels of Vitamin A increases gut inflammation and reduces the ability of your immune system to respond properly to potential threats.
- Help Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Sweet potatoes contain an array of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, selenium, and they are a great source of most of B vitamins and Vitamin C.
They are also high in antioxidants, compounds that help defend the body against damage by ‘free radicals’. In particular, the antioxidants in the peel of sweet potatoes, especially the purple one, may help reduce the oxidation process, thereby reducing the risk of cancer.
- Enhance Brain Function
Sweet potatoes contain compounds that help your brain function at its best, including choline and manganese.
Choline is a nutrient that supports the nervous system. It is essential for brain growth and development, as well as helping with learning and memory. Manganese binds to neurotransmitters and helps move electrical impulses through your body faster.
The anthocyanins unique to purple sweet potatoes may also have memory-enhancing properties.
You can enjoy sweet potatoes and their health benefits in many recipes. Cooking sweet potato does reduce its beta-carotene levels, although boiling appears to have a higher retention compared to baking. The good news, however, is that cooking sweet potato appears to increase its vitamin C content!