The Health Benefits of “Kamote” or Sweet Potato

It may be considered a “poor man’s diet” but sweet potato is undoubtedly a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. See how richly you can benefit from this root crop.  

In developing countries, sweet potato is considered a “poor man’s diet” because it’s one of the cheapest staples that a hard-up individual can easily afford to buy. Until recently, though, not many people know how potent this root crop is in terms of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Sweet potatoes are even known to be anti-inflammatory.

Sweet potatoes are known by different names by different people. In the Philippines, it’s called kamote. Other countries refer to it as camote, batata, boniato, kumar, kumara, cilera abana, kara-imo, ubhatata, satsuma-imo, and so on. Nonetheless, no matter how you may call it, the health benefits you can get from this humble root crop is immense.

plant-based foods
Kamotecue, a favorite street food among many Filipinos.

It’s a good source of vitamin C. As we all know, vitamin C promotes digestion, blood cell formation and healing of wounds. It also protects us from cold and flu viruses as well as from toxins associated with cancer. Vitamin C facilitates bone and tooth formation, produces collagen for healthy and youthful skin and helps us cope with stress.

Kamote is rich in vitamin B6, which is essential in reducing homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid said to be associated with degenerative disease.

It contains vitamin D which plays a very important role in our immune system and general health. Vitamin D boosts our energy levels, moods, as well as promotes healthy bones, nerves, heart, skin, and teeth.

Rich in other vitamins, such as vitamins B2, and E. Sweet potatoes are also packed with minerals, including copper, potassium, and iron.

Being one of the essential electrolytes that regulate heartbeat and nerve functions, potassium helps relax muscle contractions, minimizes swelling, and protects and controls the activity of the kidneys.

Iron, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in the production of red and white blood cells. Likewise, it fortifies the body against stress and promotes metabolism and a healthy immune system.

The magnesium content in kamote helps fight stress, allowing the body to relax. It also promotes healthy bones, heart, blood, muscles, arteries, and nerves.

It’s a great source of manganese. Manganese plays a very important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates useful in promoting healthy blood sugar levels. This trace mineral in kamote stabilizes glucose levels by increasing the adiponectin, a significant element in insulin metabolism. And since kamote has a glycemic index of 50, it is considered a food for diabetics.

plant-based foods
Boiled sweet potato. No matter how you prepare it, kamote is delicious and healthy.

A potent antioxidant. Kamote contains a high level of vitamin A or beta-carotene. Its vitamin A content is even higher than that of carrots.  This root crop is also found to contain over 1,300 more Vitamin A than white potatoes have.  Vitamin A, as we all know, is an important antioxidant that helps prevent different types of cancer. It also protects our skin from the harmful effects of the sun as it deflects and repair cell damage caused by too much exposure to UV rays. Thus, shielding us against premature aging. Beta-carotene in the body is converted into vitamin A (retinol) for good eye health and good vision, strong immune system, as well as glowing skin and mucous membranes.

Rich in dietary fiber and less in fat content. A medium size kamote is packed with 26 grams of carbohydrates, of which 3.8 grams are dietary fiber that helps minimize bad cholesterol and eases bowel movement.

An effective detoxifying agent. Kamote absorbs heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, and mercury that can build up in the body through your consumption of processed foods, and effectively flushes them out of your system.

Kamote is actually the best substitute for rice. I was just thinking that if we, in the Philippines, would make it a habit to make kamote a part of our daily diet, we could reduce the risk of diabetes. Diabetes has now reached a pandemic level throughout the world. In my family alone, at least 3 of my loved ones died of this disease. By reducing our consumption of rice, we might be able to resolve the issues of rice shortage, which is currently a problem in the country.

Related post:
Fun Facts About Sweet Potato

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