Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweet Potatoes

Whenever I think of sweet potatoes, I envision the holidays. In my mind's eye I see that glass casserole dish with warm gooey sweet potatoes covered in melted brown sugar and marshmallows. While using the sweet potato as a holiday table specialty is nice, sweet potatoes are actually much more versatile than one might imagine. There are many ways to include them in one's diet—and many reasons one should. Sweet potatoes are ranked highest of all vegetables in nutritional value by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Ounce for ounce you get a load of nutrients from a sweet potato. This blog entry will focus on just a few that make this tuber an excellent dietary choice for the cold and flu season. 
Nutrition and the Immune System
As we make our food choices, we must remember that nutrient intake is an important contributing factor in the immune system's ability to function. Micronutrients that are required for the immune system to function efficiently include vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, Zinc, Copper, Iron, and Selenium. It turns out sweet potatoes are high in many of these:
Vitamin A. The intense orange color of the sweet potato is evidence of its high concentration of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. In fact, just one has five times the RDA of vitamin A. Besides being recognized as essential for vision, growth and bone development, vitamin A plays a crucial role in immunity.
Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are considered to be a very good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C affects the immune system by stimulating the production and function of white blood cells.
Vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6. Studies have demonstrated that low dietary intake of vitamin B6 can result in depressed immune function.
Copper and Iron. Sweet potatoes are a good source of both copper and iron. Minerals such as these are essential to immunity as they aid in the maturation, function, and activation of defense mechanisms.

If you would like to learn more about sweet potatoes or simply find some great recipes – try the World’s Healthiest Foods website:

Eat Sweet Potatoes! Now that you know the incredible nutritional value of the sweet potato, there is just no excuse to reserve them only for the holiday table. Be creative - try adding them to your everyday meals, especially during the cold and flu season!

Nancy Silva, ND
Faculty, Health Sciences Dept


Health and Wellness said...

I always love to eat sweet potatoes and now I'm loving it more! Aside from being delish its good for the body. Thanks for these wonderful information. High five!

Jodi HW said...

I did not grow-up with sweet potatoes in my diet. In fact the only time I ever saw them was Thanksgiving in sweet potato casserole and honestly (marshmallows or not) it did not look good to me nor did I think it tasted good. It was not until I lived in Germany about 9 years ago that a friend introduced sweet potatoes as a snack. She would wash them and cut them up raw and eat them like a cucumber. She told (not asked but told) me to try one. It was amazing and I have loved them ever since. Bottom line give foods a try, you may enjoy them prepared in different ways.

Post a Comment

About Me

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
View my complete profile