The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable rich in vitamins and other body nutrients that make it a great dietary option for healthy living.
Sweet potato is one of the best sources of Vitamin A, and is naturally packed with vitamin B5, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and carotenoids.
Benefits of Sweet Potato
1. Helps prevent Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for normal vision, immune system, and reproduction, among other things. Deficiency of Vitamin A in the body is a serious issue, especially in developing nations around the world. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of this vitamin because they contain high levels of beta-carotene. The body’s liver transforms Beta-carotene into Vitamin A.
2. Aids digestion
Sweet potatoes contain significantly large amounts of fibres that help to aid digestion and also to improve the health of the gut as well as digestion. Diets rich in fibre also help in preventing constipation both in children and adults.
3. Helps in weight management
Scientific studies have shown that pectin, one of the major soluble dietary fibres in sweet potatoes, is effective at reducing weight gain and food intake. These fibres also actively increase the activity of satiety hormones in the body. Sweet potato also contains other soluble and fermentable fibres that offer the body a natural, self-sustaining mechanism for body weight regulation.
4. Low glycemic index
The relatively low glycemic index of sweet potato means that when it is taken, it releases sugar slowly into the bloodstream – unlike other starchy foods.
This slow release of sugar helps to maintain the balance of blood sugar in the body, especially in people living with diabetes. Thus, sweet potato minimises the occurrence of insulin resistance.
Again, sweet potato is a high fibre food, which has been shown to help lower the blood sugar levels by increasing satiety.
Another benefit of sweet potato is that it is an important source of magnesium, a macromineral critical for the prevention and management of diabetes.
5. Fertility boost
Scientists have also found out that sweet potato, among other benefits, has the ability to boost fertility as it plays a major role in improving the chances of getting pregnant
Some of the ways sweet potato can help to boost fertility include:
a. Regulates hormone production
Sweet potato helps to maintain the balance between progesterone and oestrogen levels in the body. Maintaining this balance is a critical activity for the body to function healthily. Hormonal imbalance is one of the causes of fertility problems. To reverse this problem, foods that are high in vitamin B6, such as sweet potato, are needed to increase the body’s progesterone production because its production is important to maintain hormonal balance in the body.
b. Strengthens the immune system
Sweet potato is high in Vitamin C which helps to strengthen the immune system. A compromised immune system predisposes the body to diseases that can cause infertility or interfere with pregnancy.
c. Promotes healthy and fertile cervical fluid
Antioxidants found in Vitamin A in sweet potatoes are popular for promoting healthy and fertile cervical fluid. It also assists in the development and maturation of follicles in the ovaries.
d. Improves ovarian health
Sweet potato is also a rich source of beta-carotene which is proven to improve ovarian and adrenal health. Studies show that they help protect against conditions related to oestrogen dominance such as fibroid, heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, breast cyst as well as ovarian cancer.
e. Source of calcium and iron
Sweet potato contains a good quantity of calcium and iron. According to studies, these nutrients play a major role in conception. For one, experts believe that the more calcium in the surrounding fluid in the womb, the better it is for the embryo that forms. Also, calcium helps to create an alkaline environment in the reproductive tract, aiding the thrust of sperms towards the eggs. To put it another way, it means that this root vegetable promotes healthy ovulation.
F. Reduces stress
Research findings have shown that when a woman is stressed out, her chances of getting pregnant are greatly reduced. This is because stress affects the hormones that stimulate the release of fertile eggs/ova. Sweet potato contains a significant amount of magnesium, which asides from aiding the prevention and management of diabetes, also ensures normal body functioning, alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety-related behaviours in humans.
G. Stabilises blood sugar
Studies have shown that the consumption of diets with high glycemic loads translate to ovulatory infertility. This is in contrast to those with a lower glycemic load. Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic load and are, therefore, recommended for higher fertility prospects.
With all these benefits, it will indeed be apt to praise sweet potato for its ‘family’ of ‘glories’ that shines like the ‘morning’ sun.