Health Warrior: The Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes aren't just for Thanksgiving.  They are such a healthy powerhouse with loads of fiber and vitamin A that they should make an appearance at your gatherings year-round.  Here are some reasons you may not be aware of that may help convince you and a recipe to try:

So Sweet

The sweet taste of the sweet potato compared to the white Russet potato is notable.  One would assume that sweetness to be associated with a higher sugar content, which could then create a spike in our blood sugar - not an effect we want.  But, in this case, it may not be so. The fiber plays a big part here. The sweet potato does not create a big hit in our blood sugar probably because the fiber content is so much higher than the white potato.  This fiber slows down the digestion and release of sugar.  How sweet is that?



Heart Help

Sweet potatoes are a great support to our heart health.  They contain a large amount of vitamin B6, which has a beneficial impact on that nasty substance, homocysteine. Homocysteine lends a hand to hardening of the arteries and blood vessels. But, the vitamin B6 in the sweet potato allows our blood to flow more easily in all our blood pathways by keeping the vessel walls flexible and strong.

The high levels of potassium in the orange flesh helps lower our blood pressure by sweeping out excess sodium and regulating our fluids.  Potassium also aids in regulating our heart rhythm and function of our nervous system.

Looking Good

All the nutrients combined in the sweet potato make it a great weapon for any beauticians' tool box.  The beta-carotene and high levels of vitamins C and E are a great aid in making our skin glow and our hair lustrous.  

Eating these in summer months or when expecting to be exposed to the sun can even help fight a sunburn.  Some studies are showing lycopene and beta carotene, both high in sweet potatoes, are great fighters against sunburn. Dermatologists gotta love that.


Quick Prep

If you need a quick way to prepare this inexpensive but antioxidant-rich, mineral-laden vegetable, try this recipe.  It is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.  The heart-healthy macadamia nut oil adds a great touch of nuttiness as well as nutrients, but you can use another high-smoke point oil if you do not have it. Butternut squash makes a great sub as well for this, if you prefer that in the fall or winter when it is in season.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Lemon

4 servings

Gather

  • 3 large organic sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or a bit more if you like it sweeter
  • juice of half a lemon
  • zest of half a lemon
parchment paper

Now do this
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees or use your roast feature on your oven if you have it.
  • In medium sized bowl, stir together macadamia nut oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cloves.
  • Add sweet potatoes and coat the potatoes with the oil mixture well.   
  • Line a cookie sheet with the parchment paper and spoon potatoes onto paper in single layer.
  • Roast for 20 minutes.
  • Flip potatoes so that other side gets browned.
  • Roast an additional 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are starting to brown and get a crispy exterior.
  • Drizzle with maple syrup and lemon juice.
  • Taste for additional salt or pepper if needed.
  • Sprinkle with lemon zest.
So, what is your favorite way to prepare this mighty health warrior?  Please share.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/postbear/8508685885/">postbear</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>





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