Nutritional Information for Sweet Potatoes

Thought carrots were healthy? Well, they are, but sweet potatoes have 3 times more beta-carotene than carrots! The way they’re cooked matters. The best way to cook sweet potatoes would be to boil them with their skin on because there are like 10 times more antioxidants in the skin, compared with the flesh. 

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Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Cancer Prevention Benefits

Men eating more yellow and orange vegetables have been associated with less prostate cancer risk. The carotenoids – a class of antioxidants — in these foods may be one of the main reasons why they’re so powerful. For survivors, higher blood levels of certain carotenoids and antioxidants may help men with recurring prostate cancer. Color the plate with bright sweet potatoes (purple flesh ones too), pumpkins, carrots, squash and corn. And consider cooking these foods to release more of the carotenoids.

Sweet potatoes and their unique proteins have been tested against many types of cancer. It’s been found to work against tongue cancer cells in cell studies. Sweet potato proteins were found to block the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells. Lasty, although more research is needed, population studies have found sweet potato consumption was associated with lower gallbladder cancer rates.  

Men's Health Benefits

Men filling their plates with carotenoid-rich foods like sweet potatoes may experience far more benefits than just reducing cancer risk. Carotenoid intake from food has been associated with a reduction in DNA damage and oxidation. They even seem to play a major role in helping with asthma. Kids are more prone to asthma when they lack fruits and vegetables in their diet. It’s like the antioxidants and DNA protection from the produce targets the lungs and airways. The same appears true for adult. And when fruit and veggies are added back into the diet asthma rates seem to plunge.

Sweet potatoes are one of those “superfoods” that just so happens to be the cheapest food packed with the most nutrition. Others on the list are white potatoes, tomato juice and soups, carrots, and broccoli.Some of the anthocyanins found in sweet potatoes have been shown to help with eyesight. In Okinawa, sweet potatoes are a staple. A traditional Okinawan diet consists of lots of plant foods like green and yellow vegetables, sweet potatoes, rice, soybean-based foods and very little fish and lean meats. They tend to have live long lives and have dramatically lower risk of heart diseases and cancer, compared to other countries with Western-type eating habits.

Sweet potatoes are also low in the glycemic index so they won’t spike blood sugar. They play a crucial role in the diet. One study describes them as such, “antioxidative, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, antimicrobial, and immunomodulatory activities. Tubers have an immense potential as functional foods and nutraceutical ingredients to be explored in disease risk reduction and wellness.” 

Ways to Use Sweet Potatoes

Roast, boil, or grill in a foil.

+ Cut potatoes like fries and bake until desired texture. Try blanching them first putting them in boiling hot water for 10-15 minutes before baking to really bring out the flavors.

+ Top roasted potatoes with beans, sauted veggies, salsa, and avocado.

+ Sauté diced potatoes with other veggies, such as onions, asparagus, peppers, zucchini.

+ Add chopped sweet potatoes to chili and stews.

+ Use sweet potatoes in homemade veggie burgers.

+ Add roasted sweet potatoes to green and pasta salads.

+ Mash cooked sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes.

+ Add roasted sweet potatoes to wraps and sandwiches.

Resources for Sweet Potatoes

American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org

Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org

Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org

USDA Nutrient Database: Sweet Potatoes

Citations
  1. Li PG, Mu TH, Deng L. Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19(21):3300-8.
  2. Huang GJ, Sheu MJ, Chen HJ, Chang YS, Lin YH. Growth inhibition and induction of apoptosis in NB4 promyelocytic leukemia cells by trypsin inhibitor from sweet potato storage roots. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 4;55(7):2548-53. 
  3. Drewnowski A. New metrics of affordable nutrition: which vegetables provide most nutrients for least cost?J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(9):1182-7.
  4. Pandey M, Shukla VK. Diet and gallbladder cancer: a case-control study. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2002;11(4):365-8.
  5. Sugata M, Lin CY, Shih YC. Anti-Inflammatory and Anticancer Activities of Taiwanese Purple-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea batatas L. Lam) Extracts. Biomed Res Int. 2015:768093.
  6. Jones M, Barclay AW, Brand-Miller JC, Louie JC. Dietary glycaemic index and glycaemic load among Australian children and adolescents: results from the 2011-2012 Australian Health Survey. Br J Nutr. 2016;116(1):178-87.
  7. Yong LC, Petersen MR, Sigurdson AJ, Sampson LA, Ward EM. High dietary antioxidant intakes are associated with decreased chromosome translocation frequency in airline pilots. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(5):1402-10.
  8. Ellwood P, Asher MI, Björkstén B, Burr M, Pearce N, Robertson CFDiet and asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic eczema symptom prevalence: an ecological analysis of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) data. ISAAC Phase One Study Group. Eur Respir J. 2001;17(3):436-43.
  9. Chandrasekara A, Josheph Kumar T. Roots and Tuber Crops as Functional Foods: A Review on Phytochemical Constituents and Their Potential Health Benefits. Int J Food Sci. 2016;2016:3631647.
  10. Kubow S, Iskandar MM, Sabally K, et al. Biotransformation of anthocyanins from two purple-fleshed sweet potato accessions in a dynamic gastrointestinal system. Food Chem. 2016;192:171-7.
  11. Wood LG, Garg ML, Blake RJ, Garcia-Caraballo S, Gibson PG. Airway and circulating levels of carotenoids in asthma and healthy controls. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24(6):448-55.
  12. Sun M, Lu X, Hao L, Wu T, Zhao H, Wang C. The influences of purple sweet potato anthocyanin on the growth characteristics of human retinal pigment epithelial cells. Food Nutr Res. 2015;59:27830.
  13. Yao J, Qian C. Sporamin induce apoptosis in human tongue carcinoma cells by down-regulating Akt/GSK-3 signaling. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2011;25(2):229-36.
  14. Willcox DC, Scapagnini G, Willcox BJ. Healthy aging diets other than the Mediterranean: a focus on the Okinawan diet. Mech Ageing Dev. 2014;136-137:148-62.
  15. Charepalli V, Reddivari L, Radhakrishnan S, Vadde R, Agarwal R, Vanamala JK. Anthocyanin-containing purple-fleshed potatoes suppress colon tumorigenesis via elimination of colon cancer stem cells.J Nutr Biochem. 2015 Dec;26(12):1641-9.
  16. Boivin D, Lamy S. Lord-Dufour S, et al. Antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of common vegetables: A comparative study. Food Chem. 2009;112(2):374-380.
  17. Kolonel LN, Hankin JH, Whittemore AS, et al. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and prostate cancer: a multiethnic case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000;9(8):795-804.
  18. Antwi SO, Steck SE, Zhang H. Plasma carotenoids and tocopherols in relation to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels among men with biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol. 2015;t;39(5):752-62.
  19. Ghavami A, Coward W, Bluck L. The effect of food preparation on the bioavailability of carotenoids from carrots using intrinsic labelling. Br J Nutr. 2012;107(9):1350-66.
  20. Aronson W, Barnard R, Freedland S, et al. Growth inhibitory effect of low fat diet on prostate cancer cells: results of a prospective, randomized dietary intervention trial in men with prostate cancer. J Urol. 2010;183(1):345-50.
  21. * Calcium and Iron only equate to 8% of the RDA. Others are 10% or above.

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