If your exposure to sweet potatoes is limited to the Thanksgiving table or your favorite diner's healthier french fry option, now's the time to open your eyes to the weight-loss wonders of the tuber. Here are three reasons sweet potatoes help you drop pounds.
They're naturally sweet: No refined sugar overload here — sweet potatoes make for a healthy, lower-calorie treat. Satisfy any morning sweet/salty cravings with these sweet potato apple pancakes, and get your healthy dessert fill with these sweet potato desserts.
They regulate blood sugar: Sweet potatoes may have their fair share of carbs (about 33 grams per cup), but they contain a compound that increases levels of adiponectin, the blood-sugar regulating hormone, in the body. Sweet potatoes have a relatively low glycemic index rating (50), which can also help prevent blood sugar spikes after you eat. Regulated blood sugar levels can help get rid of those sugary cravings you get when your levels dip. And while studies have been conflicting, some research has shown that low-glycemic foods stay in your digestive tract longer, helping you control your appetite. To maintain sweet potatoes' low-glycemic properties, boil or steam them instead of roasting them (which destroys some of these properties).
They contain fiber: High-fiber foods are another foolproof way to control hunger. Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, and one medium sweet potato (about one cup) contains four grams of the nutrient.
Sweet potatoes don't just help you trim your waistline, however. They're powerful sources of vitamin A, which helps boost immunity and promotes good eye, skin, and bone health, as well as high levels of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Regardless of whether you're trying to lose weight or not, sweet potatoes' seemingly superfood status isn't a license to order all the sweet potato fries you want — a 2011 study found that those deep-fried sweet potato fries may not be as healthy as you think!
Photo: Grace Hitchcock