More and more people are trying to adopt a low-carb lifestyle, and that’s great. The fewer carbs you eat, the better able your body is at becoming a fat-burning machine. Now, generally speaking, the best veggies to eat on a low-carb diet are green leafy ones that grow above ground. Usually any vegetable that grows above ground is going to be a safe bet. Root veggies, such as potatoes, are usually not allowed on the low-carb menu.
But there are a number of low-carb experts that are very enthusiastic about the sweet potato because sweet potatoes are relatively low-carb considering they are a tuber vegetable. And, since their carbohydrates are complex, they are more slowly absorbed into the system than carbs from other root veggies.
But beyond being a delicious (they don’t call it sweet for nothing) veggie, sweet potatoes offer a lot of incredible health benefits. So, whether you are a low-carber or just someone who wants to eat healthier, keep reading to find out the benefits sweet potatoes offer.
They are Loaded with Powerful Nutrients
Did you know that just one cup of sweet potato provides about half of your daily vitamin C requirements? That’s not all. Sweet potatoes also boast impressive amounts of vitamin A. Both C and A function as powerful antioxidants that protect your body from harmful free radicals.
Sweet potatoes also offer B vitamins for energy and mood support, manganese, which is needed by your nervous system, and potassium, which will keep your blood pressure nice and low.
They Help Fight Inflammation
I talk often about the fact that inflammation is at the root of most diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. Sweet potatoes boast natural anti-inflammatory compounds that can help your body fight inflammation. In fact, a study conducted on animals found that an extract from purple sweet potatoes reduced inflammation in brain tissue.
They Improve Gut Health
Sweet potatoes are chock full of soluble fiber, which can aid digestion and improve gut health in a couple of different ways. To start, fiber keeps you nice and regular, which means your waste is easily eliminated instead of sitting in your large intestine, allowing toxins to seep into your bloodstream.
Beyond this, soluble fiber has been shown to increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut. When you have more of the “good guys” they help prevent an overgrowth of bad bacteria. This can help improve certain digestive conditions such as IBS and colon cancer.
They May Help with Weight Loss
Besides soluble fiber, sweet potatoes also contain a specific starch called resistant starch. Resistant starch does not get digested or absorbed by the body. So it’s like you are eating calories that don’t get counted.
One study found that replacing just a small amount of total carb intake with resistant starch resulted in a 20 to 30% increase in fat burning after a meal. Resistant starch also signals the body to produce more satiety-inducing hormones.
May Fight Cancer
I mentioned that sweet potatoes have vitamin A and C, which are antioxidants, but they also have anthocyanins, which are a group of antioxidants found in purple sweet potatoes. These specific antioxidants have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells in test-tube studies, including those of the bladder, colon, stomach, and breast cancer.
It’s beta-carotene that gives sweet potatoes their rich, orange color. Beta-carotene is another type of antioxidant that has been shown to support eye health. Just one cup of sweet potato provides more than seven times the amount of beta-carotene that the average adult needs per day.
Boosts Brain Health
Animal studies suggest that eating sweet potatoes, particularly the purple ones, may improve brain function and protect it by reducing inflammation and preventing free radical damage.
While no human studies have been conducted, animal studies suggest that eating more anthocyanin-rich sweet potatoes, or taking the extract, could help with learning and memory. This may mean that older people can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia partially through diet and supplementation.
The bottom line is, sweet potatoes are highly nutritious vegetables that are good on a low-card (or any) diet. They are easy to incorporate into meal plans and can help you protect your overall health. Now that is SWEET news!
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