Sweet potatoes come in different colours and varieties with some having white, yellow, orange or purple flesh. In countries such as Uganda where vitamin A deficiency among children is rampant, consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato is a good solution.
Orange fleshed sweet potato is very rich in beta-carotene. It is converted into Vitamin A which boosts immunity and prevents dry eyes. Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, says, “Vitamin A helps improve resistance to infectious disease, increases morbidity and prevents dry eyes. It also reduces mortality in pregnant women and lactating mothers and their children.”
They contain proteins, carbohydrates, potassium, calcium, vitamin A, C, E and B6, iron and fibre as well as beta-carotene. Dr Alex Mokori, a dietician at UNICEF, says sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for diabetics since they contain natural sugars that decrease and stabilise the insulin resistance in diabetics.
Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids that help in producing Vitamin A. This vitamin regenerates the respiratory system. People with respiratory problems should therefore eat sweet potatoes more often. He adds that sweet potatoes also contain Vitamin D which is good for the teeth, heart, skin, bones, energy levels as well as proper function of the thyroid gland.
The potassium in them is good for healthy tissues and muscles because it regulates heartbeats and nerve signals. It helps in relieving cramps and body swelling, a good energy boaster and muscle relaxer.
Diabetes & heart health
They are good for the regulation of sugar levels, says Dr Mokori. Sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for diabetics since they contain natural sugars that decrease and stabilise the insulin resistance. They are good for regulation of sugar levels.
He says, “There can be a general improvement of the heart function with the consumption of sweet potatoes. This is because they contain potassium which lowers the impact of sodium, regulates blood pressure and the balance of electrolytes in the body. The sweet potato also contains vitamin B6 which prevents heart attacks and degenerative diseases.”
Beta-carotene in the sweet potato acts like an antioxidant that fights cancer and has anti-aging properties. Like carrots, sweet potatoes have beta-carotene nutrient.
When taken into the body, the beta-carotene turns into vitamin A, which mops up, damaging free radicals. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are better protect you from poor eyesight, bolster the immune system and may reduce the aging process.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of folic acid which helps in foetal development. Pregnant women should consume more sweet potatoes to prevent neurological defects in their unborn babies.
Akech says, “They contain iron which is vital in the production of the red and white blood cells. They would help fight anaemia. If you suffer from painful cramps during periods, the iron and manganese in sweet potatoes will help soothe them.”
You can use the water from boiled sweet potatoes to treat skin irritation, cleaning the pores and absorbing impurities. The vitamin C helps in the production of collagen while the vitamin E helps in moisturizing and improving the skin complexion.
“It helps remove wrinkles purify and remove the dark circles around the eyes. Damaged hair and dandruff can be treated by the beta carotene in the potatoes and stimulates hair growth,” Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, says.