If you’re like me, then you’re already making some preparations for next week’s Thanksgiving Day feast.
I’m looking forward to serving locally grown, fresh, wholesome foods. Including some delicious sweet potatoes alongside our own organic turkey!
But, truthfully, you should try to add sweet potatoes to the menu all year-round—not just around the holidays. That’s because they’re PACKED with some truly impressive nutritional benefits…
The amazing health benefits of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes aren’t technically potatoes, as they belong to a different botanical family than the standard “white” potato. This means, unlike regular potatoes, you can safely prepare and eat the leaves of the sweet potato plant, as you would spinach or turnip greens. You can also, of course, eat the tuber peeled or whole.
Plus, they come in a variety of colors—including orange, white, and purple—and are RICH in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Here are three particularly impressive health benefits of eating sweet potatoes. We know they…
1.) Support healthy digestion and metabolism. As a starchy, sweet-tasting, root vegetable, one serving of sweet potatoes contains about 7 grams of sugar and 16 grams of carbohydrates.
But, as I’ve explained before, you shouldn’t worry about consuming sugars found in whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. That’s because these sugars come embedded in a food biomatrix, which slows down digestion and metabolism. Therefore, the sugar doesn’t flood into your bloodstream, causing problems, as it does with ultra-processed foods, such as cookies and cakes.
In addition, sweet potatoes contain loads of fiber, which is key for healthy digestion and metabolism. Not to mention, eating high-fiber foods, like sweet potatoes, helps lower the risk of ever developing blood sugar problems like Type II diabetes.
And, remember, you should ALWAYS get your fiber from eating whole foods.
In fact, if you consume your recommended five fruits and vegetables daily, you take in plenty of both soluble and insoluble fiber. So, there’s never any need to supplement with a fiber pill—or to reach for fake food items with added fiber.
As an added bonus, natural fiber, as found in fruits and vegetables, also reduces your risk of developing colon cancer. (As well as other cancers, including breast cancer, as I found in my research at the National Cancer Institute [NCI] in the mid-1980s.)
2.) Help NATURALLY improve blood pressure. Just one medium sweet potato contains loads of magnesium and potassium, two minerals shown to support heart health. In fact, studies show a diet rich in potassium helps keep blood pressure within a healthy range.
Plus, as I explained earlier this month, undiagnosed low magnesium is often the REAL culprit behind high blood pressure.
So, by putting sweet potatoes on the menu year-round, you can take steps to NATURALLY support your blood pressure and heart health…without resorting to harmful drugs.
3.) Protect against disease and aging. The orange (or other colored) flesh of the sweet potato contains lots of healthy carotenoids. (I helped discover the role of carotenoids in food nutrient composition, and in human metabolism, with researchers at the National Institutes of Health [NIH] and U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] during the mid-1980s.)
The orange color comes from alpha- and beta-carotene (as in carrots), which your body safely converts into vitamin A. Then, the converted vitamin A goes to good use protecting the eyes, skin, gastrointestinal (GI) system, respiratory system, and immune system against aging and disease.
(Sweet potatoes actually provide enough carotenoids to supply more than five times the recommended daily allowance [RDA] of vitamin A. And—unlike with synthetic vitamin A supplements—you can’t “overdose” on these natural forms.)
Purple sweet potatoes also contain another class of plant pigments called anthocyanins (as found in blueberries, cherries, and plums), which support brain and eye health.
Of course, both carotenoids (orange) and anthocyanins (purple) provide you with potent antioxidant protection against cellular aging, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Just remember, as with other fruits and vegetables, the skin contains the greatest concentration of anthocyanins. So, don’t peel your sweet potatoes…just give them a good scrubbing before cooking.
Adding sweet potatoes to the menu
In the Micozzi household, we enjoy eating sweet potatoes year-round as part of a healthy, balanced diet. We’ll bake or roast them to serve alongside a nice piece of wild-caught fish or organic meat. And we’ll throw them on the grill or cut them into slices to serve as “fries” with some sea salt and pepper.
So, this Thanksgiving—and in the months ahead—I hope you’ll start adding them to your menu regularly, too. Just forego adding marshmallows on top! They’re sweet enough without the added sugar…and far healthier. Especially if you add a bit of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice on top, instead.
Of course, at this time of year, you can even use sweet potato purée—instead of pumpkin purée—in your homemade pies. YUM!