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5 ways SWEET POTATOES keep you healthy

Sweet potatoes are naturally delicious because of their high sugar content. An average-sized sweet potato has a little more than 100 calories, virtually no fat, and absolutely no cholesterol. Instead, it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

With all its nutrients, the colorful tuber is more than just a tasty side dish. A sweet potato has what it takes to brighten your mood, prevent cancer, heal heart disease, and clear up eye ailments.

 

* PACKS A TRIPLE PUNCH AGAINST CANCER - Three of the toughest cancer fighters in the nutrient world - folate, vitamin C, and beta carotene (which turns into vitamin A) - are packed into a sweet potato. One sweet potato gives you almost three times the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and almost half the suggested amount of vitamin C. That’s a lot of cancer prevention packed into one potato.

And don’t forget folate. You need at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of this B vitamin each day, and a sweet potato will contribute more than 25 mcg. Your body needs folate to build and repair its DNA, and if you don’t get enough, experts believe you may increase your risk of certain types of cancer.

 

* HEART DISEASE - If you want a healthy heart, enjoy a steaming, baked sweet potato. Inside that hearty treat are potassium, beta carotene, folate, and vitamins C and B6 - five keys to lowering your blood pressure and keeping your arteries flowing smoothly. On top of all these nutrients, a sweet potato has more than 3 grams of fiber. You can help protect yourself from chronic heart disease by including fiber-rich fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

* CONTROLS CATARACTS - A sweet potato’s bright orange color means it has lots of beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. And this particular vitamin may be critical to the health of your eyes.

“Vitamin A is an antioxidant”, explains Dr. Richard G. Cumming, head researcher of the Blue Mountains Eye Study in Sydney, Australia. “Our study supports the view that antioxidant vitamins might help prevent cataracts. However, it suggests that other nutrients are also important.” A good way to keep your eyes healthy, says Cumming, is to eat a well-balanced diet. The sweet potato is an excellent food to include because it is rich in beta carotene and other important nutrients.

* OSTEOPOROSIS - It’s never too late to go to bat against osteoporosis. To prevent or slow down the disease, just eat a diet packed with five ingredients - potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Unlike many other foods, sweet potatoes contain all five, and all but magnesium in abundance.

* SWEETENS YOUR MOOD - Snack on a sweet potato, and you may lift yourself out of the doldrums. Experts say eating foods high in vitamin B6 may be a key to beating the blues. Your body needs the nutrient to balance chemicals in your brain that may control whether you’re happy or sad. If you are a vegetarian, sweet potatoes and other plant sources high in B6 - like navy beans, spinach, and bananas - are especially important.

 

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