Ever wondered why ancient South and Central American civilizations had a soft spot for sweet potatoes? Sure, the delicious taste of the root vegetable is almost irresistible, but we have a feeling those early inhabitants of what's now Latin America knew a thing or two about its many benefits.
Did you know, for example, that the spuds are a great source of vitamin A? Or that if half of your diet was purely made of the veggie, you would still be getting enough nutrients? Scroll ahead for these and even more fascinating reasons you should add more of the tuber to your meals.
- They're low-calorie and naturally sweet, so you can eat them more frequently without feeling guilty.
- Forget about oranges — one sweet potato contains 35 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, which might help to cure a cold as well as skin wounds, bones, and teeth.
- Because they are high in fiber, sweet potatoes are filling and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
- According to the USDA, a medium-size sweet potato contains more than a day's worth of vitamin A, which plays a role in immunity, cell growth, eye and skin health (beauty bonus!), and preventing heart, lung, and kidney problems.
- The low-to-moderate glycemic index number of boiled or steamed sweet potatoes means they don't significantly raise your blood sugar levels, and you know what that means: no sugary cravings in the middle of the day. Keeping this index balanced also prevents diabetes and weight gain.
- Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, particularly polyphenols and vitamin C. These free-radical-fighting particles are basically little wonders with studies saying they could play a role in the hindering of cancer and aging.
- Ever heard that slicing sweet potatoes and putting them under your eyes can reduce the look of puffiness? There's some truth to that. A study showed that purple sweet potatoes have high anti-inflammatory powers.
- Believe it or not, sweet potatoes have more potassium than bananas, meaning they're better at fighting strokes, guaranteeing good digestion, and even helping you avoid muscle cramps.