Sweet Potatoes

A question received from FOODPICKER.org:

I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes and trying to follow a low fat diet. I have a question I hope you can answer. Are sweet potatoes considered a vegetable and are they ok to eat in my diet?

Not only are sweet potatoes tasteful, but they contain a large amount of health benefits. Sweet potatoes are considered a vegetable and are excellent to be eating when being diagnosed with pre-diabetes. There are a number of different nutrient categories that are responsible for health benefits of a sweet potato. Some categories are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients and blood sugar regulating nutrients. Several recent studies have shown the ability of sweet potatoes to raise our blood levels of Vitamin A. In some studies, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a better source of bioavailable beta-carotene than green leafy vegetables. In animal studies, reduced inflammation following the consumption of sweet potatoes has been shown in brain tissue and nerve tissue throughout the body.

Many people think that starchy root vegetables as a food group that can’t possibly control their blood sugar because food starches can be converted by the digestive tract into simple sugars. Sweet potatoes actually have the ability to improve blood sugar regulation even in people with type 2 diabetes. Among root vegetables, sweet potatoes offer the lowest glycemic index rating. That’s because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer. It’s time to move sweet potatoes to the “good” carb list. Many of the most popular diets these days have already. Research has shown that extracts from sweet potatoes can significantly increase blood levels of adiponectin which is a protein hormone produced by fat cells and is an important regulator for insulin metabolism. Sweet potatoes also contain a valuable amount of fiber (just over 3 grams in a medium sized). Be sure to add these naturally sweet vegetables in your meals year round because they are very nutritious. They can be found in your local market year round but are in season November-December.

A few quick serving ideas would be:

Cooked sweet potatoes with bananas and cinnamon topped with chopped walnuts. The fat content from the walnuts will help you get optimal absorption of beta-carotene.

Steam cubed sweet potatoes, tofu and broccoli mixed in raisins, served hot or cold with curried vinaigrette dressing.

A delicious baked potato by itself has enough flavor to make you satisfied!

So remember a sweet potato is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Manganese, Copper, Fiber, Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Iron.

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts (for one medium size sweet potato)
Calories 130
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 2.15 g
Net Carbs 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
Calcium 28.6 mg
Sodium 16.9 mg
Potassium 265.2 mg
Folate 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C 29.51 mg
Vitamin A 26081.9 IU
Source: US Department of Agriculture

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