In honor of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., let us praise one part of the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal: the sweet potato. Uncommonly eaten in the U.S. except during holidays; fortunately here in Brazil, they are a more routine part of the diet.
The Center For Science In The Public Interest (CSPI), Washington, DC, is considered by many in the U.S. as the most objective and incorruptible sources of nutrition information. In the 1990s they studied and ranked 58 vegetables for nutritional content, and sweet potatoes scored number one.
Sweet potatoes scored 582 points on the CSPI scale, and second ranked was carrots, with 432 points. They called sweet potatoes “A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat.”
Here is why sweet potatoes are so good for you:
1. They are one of the best sources of beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is one of the most potent anti-oxidants known, and is especially important to help maintain eyesight as we get older. It reduces the most common cause of vision loss in middle and old age, macular degeneration. Taken from food sources (but not from pills), it has been shown to decrease the risk of breast and lung cancer, and overall boasts our immune system.
2. They are sweet because of sugars, but these sugars are the healthiest types.
The best carbohydrates—found in sweet potatoes—are the “complex” ones, which are broken down slowly in our bodies. This is good, as it avoids rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. Rapid sugar loads are harmful in many ways; for example, rapid increases make us hungry again faster.
3. Sweet potatoes are great sources of potassium and magnesium.
Potassium acts as sort of an “anti-sodium”, and helps lower blood pressure. And good magnesium levels are important for proper heart and blood vessel function, yet it’s estimated that about 80% of us may be magnesium deficient.
4. They are a great source of fiber, iron, vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as many micronutrients such as copper.
We recommend you replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes, and eat them with their skins. We leave you with this quote from the CSPI:
“The single most important dietary change for most people would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates — such as sweet potatoes.”
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