CHENNAI: The humble sweet potato, in all its weird and wobbly innocuousness, often gets a poor rep. Especially when pitted against, rather unfairly, the universally loved potato. While madhura kizhangu puzhukku and sweet potato fries have persuaded many to switch camps, it doesn’t exactly top the list of favourite vegetables for too many.
But, maybe it should, given that there’s plenty more to this unassuming tuberous root, says Yamini, clinical dietician, Kauvery Hospital. “There’s a misconception that roots and tubers are not to be consumed in large quantities because of their starch content. But, when it comes to the nutritional value, the other components like micro-nutrients also have to be kept in mind.
For this, sweet potato can be consumed,” explains Yamini. There are two types of the sweet potato. “The one which is available in India is the orange-pinkish one; the other one is purple and not commonly available here. But, both of them have the same properties and are very good for your health. It is antiinflammatory, reduces free radicals and boosts your immune,” she details.
It is very rich in ascorbic acid, fulfilling the vitamin C part. It’s also a good source of iron. If cooked with jaggery, the nutritional anaemia can be treated.
Sweet potato is a rich source of potassium. This can help manage high blood pressure, its water retention properties can regulate muscle contractions and prevent kidney stones too.
Starchy but good
Even though it is a starchy vegetable with a minimal amount of carbohydrates, it minimises the absorption of sugar in the body; thanks to its good fibre content both soluble and insoluble. So, even diabetic
patients can consume it once or twice a week if their sugar level is under control.
The high fibre content also helps in maintaining gut health. It enhances the growth of beneficial bacteria in your stomach; this way, it can help treat infective diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. It helps in weight gain but portion size is the key and it has to be taken appropriately.
It is a very good source of choline an essential nutrient that enhances the brain function.
Sweet potato is also very rich in beta carotene, which is the precursor for vitamin A. This vitamin
is very essential in all stages of life, playing a vital role in eye health.
Rich in antioxidants
It is filled with anthocyanins with antioxidant properties. Hence, it has to be included in everyday diet.
A 100 grams of baked sweet potato offers 51 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 6 to 7 grams of fibre and very minimal fat. Otherwise, it is also rich in vitamin C and B6, magnesium, etc. The best way to consume sweet potato is to steam/bake it and have it with jaggery or slight seasoning. It can also be made as a regular south Indian curry or poriyal, with tomato and onions and spices.
“Sweet potato is not given much importance on the plate. But, you should try to include it regularly in your diet. In layman terms, it just looks like the pancreas the shape of the tuber. And Mother Nature has given it all these properties too. That depicts that it is very good for your vital organ, pancreas,” she concludes.