Sweet Potato- Tasty and Nutritional

My family and I eat sweet potato almost daily. Here's why you should too:

1. High nutritional value
A 1 cup serving of sweet potatoes contains 65% of the minimum necessary daily amount of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are also high in calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which converts to Vitamin A in the body: one serving of sweet potatoes can provide you with as much as 700% of the US RDA for Vitamin A. The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one most nutritious vegetable because they such are so nutritionally rich.

2. Low glycemic index
If you are unfamiliar with this term, the glycemic index indicates the impact a food substance has on blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index means blood sugar levels can spike- which has numerous negative side effects. Sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of only 17. (By way of comparison, a white potato has an index of 29.)

3. Accessing sweet potatoes' nutritional benefits is easy
To gain the maximum health benefits from eating sweet potatoes, avoid discarding their skins -- much of their healing potential resides in this portion of the tubers. Also, following the common dieters' fallacy of avoiding all fats reduces your ability to access sweet potatoes' benefits: beta-carotene absorbs more thoroughly into the body when consumed with a small amount of fat. Recent research seems to indicate that steaming or boiling sweet potatoes rather than roasting them helps preserve their low glycemic index.

4. Good for your skin
Their high levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene means sweet potatoes are a skin superfood. The substances on many pricey skin-care products like retinol and retinoic acid are actually derived from Vitamin A. Plus beta-carotene combats the free radicals which result skin aging.

5. Sweet potatoes are like yoga
Their high potassium content means sweet potatoes can alleviate muscle cramps which are often related to potassium deficiency. During times of stress, the body uses more potassium, so eating sweet potatoes can help protect you from the negative health effects of tension.

6. Easy to grow in your garden
Starting a vegetable garden is a great way both to reduce your grocery bill now, and to reduce your dependency on grocery stores for the long-term. Sweet potatoes make a good beginner's garden crop. Although originally native to South America, this type of tuber only requires 100 frost-free days in order to grow, so living in Temecula is perfect to harvest some of these nutritionally valuable tubers. Also, sweet potato plants have fewer diseases than other types of potatoes, and they are relatively undemanding plants, requiring little in the way of water or fertilizer.

As people become more affluent they start to gravitate away from this humble food that grows straight from the ground and go to more rice and wheat. it's not as "glamorous" to be eating root vegetables. But, the health benefits greatly surpass grains as far as carbohydrates go.

Here are some suggestions of how to eat sweet potatoes for your body and goals. If you are aiming to lose weight-replace them with your traditional carbs as a first step. If you are an athlete-eat them as fuel 15-30 minutes after exercise to help replenish the glycogen in your cells without getting hit with insulin like a high carb food would. If you are already leaned out- eat them as often that is right for you. Evaluate your overall energy, mental performance level ( mental fog in afternoon), and physical performance (how your muscles responding during workouts).

Take advantage of the health benefits of sweet potatoes regularly, not just on Thanksgiving!

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