The Health Properties of Sweet Potatoes | Reader's Digest

The Health Properties of Sweet Potatoes

These sweet-tasting super-spuds hold a real healthy surprise.

from Magic Foods

These sweet-tasting super-spuds hold a real healthy surprise. Eat a baked sweet potato instead of a baked white potato, and your blood sugar will rise about 30 percent less!

Compared to regular potatoes, a.k.a. blood sugar bombs, sweets rank relatively low on the GL scale. And the fact that they’re packed with nutrients and disease-fighting fiber (almost 40 percent of which is soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol) makes them a sweet deal indeed. Sweet potatoes are extraordinarily rich in carotenoids, orange and yellow pigments that play a role in helping the body respond to insulin. And as unlikely as it may seem, coffee (another Magic food) and sweet potatoes have something in common: They’re both rich in the natural plant compound chlorogenic acid, which may help reduce insulin resistance.

You may not think of vitamin C when you think of sweet potatoes, but they’re actually an excellent source. That’s important when you’re battling high blood sugar, because the vitamin’s antioxidant powers may help keep arteries from being damaged. Vitamin C may also help fight heart disease and complications of diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage.

Like so many other good-for-us foods, sweet potatoes are one of those staples that we like to gum up with gooey ingredients that essentially turn it into candy; think maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, and even marshmallows. If this is the only way you’ve ever enjoyed sweet potatoes, give some of our menu suggestions a try. Steer clear of canned sweets, which are usually packed in sugary syrup.

Health Bonus
A recent study found that among almost 2,000 men studied, those whose diets were richest in beta-carotene and vitamin C — two nutrients plentiful in sweet potatoes — were more likely to survive prostate cancer than those whose diets contained little of the two nutrients.

The famous Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard Medical School found that women who ate lots of foods rich in beta-carotene, such as sweet potatoes, reduced their risk of breast cancer by as much as 25 percent. Eating sweet potatoes is a smart move for you if you have high blood pressure. That’s because they’re rich in potassium, a mineral known for bringing pressure down. You’ll get more potassium from a sweet potato than you will from a banana!

Glycemic Load: Medium