The famous and popular sweet potato is a food that protects cells, skin and heart. While providing energy, it also contributes to the formation of teeth and bones. All this because it is an antioxidant, rich in vitamin A, magnesium and calcium.
But his fame is mainly related to the gain of muscle mass, having become the darling of those who do weight training looking for hypertrophy .
In addition, it has a versatility in the kitchen. According to nutritionist Bianca Patrícia Bastos, there are several recipes with sweet potatoes, such as savory pies, coxinha fit , puree, soup and chips. And the best part, the tubercle has no contraindications and can be consumed, even by diabetics.
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Sweet Potato Benefits
Sweet potatoes are a source of other nutrients such as vitamins E, C and the B complex. E, regardless of the type (white, purple or pumpkin color), is a complex carbohydrate.
For the specialist in Clinical Nutrition and Functional Sports, the best way to enjoy the benefits and maintain the integrity of the vitamins found in this tuber is to steam it.
Helps prevent cardiovascular disease
One of the main benefits mentioned by Bianca Patrícia is the antioxidant action of this potato, especially the purple ones. For the professional, this effect is a result of the high amounts of anthocyanins present in the food.
This means that regular consumption of the tuber helps fight free radicals, unstable molecules responsible for oxidative stress that affects healthy cells in the body and can cause cardiovascular disease.
One of the problems that can be avoided is atherosclerosis, popularly called hardening of the arteries. This disease is characterized by the accumulation of fats, such as cholesterol , in the arteries.
But the antioxidant effect is not the only compound of this food that can protect the heart . This is because a study carried out by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel) shows magnesium as another preventive factor.
In addition, the research also cites the low regular intake of this mineral as one of the reasons associated with the development of depression in adults.
Good for the skin
According to Bianca Patrícia, the presence of vitamins in this type of potato is “essential for the skin and for the formation of collagen ”.
For example, the edible roots of this yellowish plant have a higher vitamin A content than carrots . This means that they become a food indicated against the deficiency of this nutrient, eliminating the possibility of problems such as rough skin and even growth retardation and night blindness.
Also known as beta-carotene, vitamin A has skin-reflecting properties, helping to protect against solar radiation. In addition, it acts as an antioxidant , for this reason it blocks free radicals that can damage the cells of the epidermis, such as premature aging.
Likewise, vitamin E acts in the body, acting as a photoprotector and acting against cell oxidation. But, in this case, it is necessary that the nutrient works together with vitamin C , so that the latter protects you and it can perform its protective functions.
Acts in the formation of teeth and bones
As mentioned briefly at the beginning of this article, this tubercle also plays a role in the formation of teeth and bones. But this is only possible thanks to the presence of calcium in the different types of this potato.
Depending on the color of this food, we can find different amounts of this mineral. For example, the purple sweet potato is considered the most prominent in the concentration of this enzyme, as each 100 grams has 44.78 milligrams of calcium.
However, this mineral also plays other important roles in the body, such as helping blood clotting, muscle contraction, neurological function and metabolic processes.
Helps in the treatment of diabetes
According to a study carried out in Japan, white-skinned sweet potato in addition to increasing the body’s immune activity, also has anti-diabetic effects. Therefore, while this food is beneficial for diabetics, it is also indicated to help prevent the symptoms of this health problem.
According to Patricia, this effect comes from the composition rich in special carbohydrates. “It is a source of complex carbohydrates, which is why it has a low glycemic index, since its absorption is slower, avoiding insulin peaks”, explains the nutrition professional.
Speaking of carbohydrates, this compound is also responsible for energy demand . “The greater the intensity of the exercises, the greater the participation of carbohydrates as energy suppliers”, says a study developed at the Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR) for the Food Technology course.
In this case, it is necessary that, after physical activities, athletes and non-athletes consume balanced foods that are rich in nutrients that can replace the energy expenditure lost in muscular effort, as in the case of sweet potatoes, which are rich in carbohydrates.
In 2018, for the first time, a scientific article sought to understand the anti-inflammatory use of this type of potato. Prepared at the Department of Pharmacy of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan, the research was able to prove this effect.
According to studies, the high amount of polyphenols and dietary components make this tuber an effective anti-arthritic agent. Therefore, it is possible to affirm that the consumption of this potato can contribute to the treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory arthritis.
However, it is noteworthy that no natural treatment should replace medical prescription. In addition, it is important to seek the opinion of the health professional to understand the recommendations regarding the amount and form of consumption of this food.
Sweet potatoes fattening?
According to the specialist in Clinical Nutrition and Functional Sports, Bianca Patrícia, sweet potatoes will only contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess, just like any other food. That’s because the tuber is a good source of carbohydrates.
“The important thing is to consume it in moderation and avoid exaggeration. A good option is to prepare it with the skin, which has many nutrients and is rich in fiber, which will increase the feeling of satiety”, says the nutritionist.
The professional even explains that no food “fattens” or “slimes” by itself. These processes are the result of a number of factors, such as diet and exercise.
“Furthermore, a varied diet is essential for health. Therefore, vary the carbohydrates in your meals, so that the diet does not become monotonous”, he concludes.
How many calories is this tuber?
According to Bianca Patricia, each 100 grams of sweet potato has 112 calories.
Function in bodybuilding
Popularly, this tubercle is associated with physical exercise, not only because it is an energy supplier, but also because it helps to increase the muscles. And, according to the nutritionist, this last benefit is a reality.
“For those who want to devote themselves to a diet for hypertrophy, this carbohydrate must be combined with protein-rich foods, as together they help in muscle reconstitution, generate energy and promote a feeling of satiety for the body. Chicken with sweet potatoes is the traditional dish of this diet”, he highlights.
In addition to the chicken with boiled sweet potato, this tuber goes well in other recipes. For Bianca Patrícia, it can be transformed into “salty pie, coxinha fit, puree, soup and escondidinho. In consultations, I always pass on the prescriptions to the patients”.
This recipe is recommended by nutritionists and teachers at Unoeste, Cristina Atsumi Kuba and Juliana Santiago. According to them, this bread is a source of fiber and therefore reduces the glycemic index of the food, gradually promoting energy.
- 500 g of sweet potato (cooked)
- 120 ml of oil
- 500 g of sour powder
- 3 tablespoons of chia
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of powdered yeast.
After cooking the potatoes, mash them all and mix with olive oil, chia and sour powder. Then add the yeast and salt. Stir the dough until it starts to come off your hand. Then, just make little balls and bake in the oven at 160°C. Also, you don’t need to bake them all at once as they can get frozen.
Sweet potato chips
- purple sweet potato
- Seasonings (Himalayan pink salt and chimichurri) to taste
- Lemon juice.
Wash, peel and cut the purple potato into thin slices. Afterwards, soak them in lemon juice for 5 minutes to prevent them from darkening. Finish by adding seasonings according to your personal taste.
Then just place the slices in a glass dish and microwave for 2.5 minutes on each side, at a temperature of 150°C. When baking both sides, remove and leave to cool. Consume chips throughout the day as a snack.
Are there contraindications?
According to nutritionist Bianca Patrícia Bastos, there is no contraindication for the consumption of sweet potatoes. “Even patients with diabetes mellitus can eat, because it is a carbohydrate with a low glycemic index”, he emphasizes.
What are the differences between sweet potatoes and English potatoes?
According to the specialist in Clinical Nutrition and Functional Sports Nutrition, the same amount of sweet potato has more calories and more carbohydrates than potato potatoes.
However, the sweet type has more fiber and, for this reason, it has a lower glycemic index. In this way, many people end up saying that she is better than the English one.
“Sweet potatoes, when cooked, have a glycemic index (GI) of 60 and the English potato, in the same version, has a GI of 95. On the other hand, the English potato, despite having a higher glycemic index, has a lower glycemic load and that does a lot difference”, reveals the nutritionist.
For the professional, it is important to highlight that the glycemic index corresponds to the carbohydrate quality of a food or how quickly it is absorbed by the body (the slower the better). When talking about glycemic load, we take into account both the quality and the amount of carbohydrate in a food.
How to choose sweet potatoes?
The first thing you should look at when buying sweet potatoes is their firmness: the food must be firm, with no shriveled parts. Choose copies with a more uniform shape if possible, but it’s okay if they’re crooked.
Choose sweet potatoes that have fewer holes, as they signal that the food has been attacked by pests, but the situation can only be proven when you remove the skin. It’s quite common to only have sweet potatoes with these holes. If this is the case, buy it anyway, peel and discard the attacked parts, which have a dark color and a different smell.
Avoid buying sweet potatoes with sprouts growing, as they will use up the nutrients from the root and therefore will lose quality. Also try to discard the ones that have very damaged parts and dark spots.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.