Nutritional benefits of shakarkand, delicious recipes with sweet potatoes | Health - Hindustan Times

Blood sugar management to cancer prevention, nutritional benefits and recipes of sweet potatoes or shakarkand

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Aug 30, 2023 12:57 PM IST

Check out these nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes/shakarkand, along with some delectable recipes to etch them as a cornerstone in your culinary repertoire

Since ancient times sweet potatoes, or shakarkand as they are called in India, have been a staple cuisine in many cultures and due to the variety of nutrients they contain, sweet potatoes have acquired the moniker “superfood”. They are cherished not only for their delightful flavour but also for their remarkable nutritional profile hence, sweet potatoes stand as a versatile and nourishing inclusion in your dietary choices.

Blood sugar management to cancer prevention, nutritional benefits and recipes of sweet potatoes or shakarkand (Unsplash)
Blood sugar management to cancer prevention, nutritional benefits and recipes of sweet potatoes or shakarkand (Unsplash)

According to health experts, these vibrant root vegetables extend an array of advantages, spanning from delivering vital vitamins and minerals to endorsing digestive well-being. Read on to know more about the nutritional merits inherent in sweet potatoes, alongside a selection of delectable recipes destined to etch them as a cornerstone in your culinary repertoire.

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Nutritional benefits:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Archana Batra, dietician and certified diabetes educator, revealed the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes as -

  1. Helps to have a healthy vision: Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A, is abundant in sweet potatoes. Bright orange-fleshed veggies typically contain this antioxidant. Beta-carotene is processed by your body into vitamin A, which is then utilised to create light-detecting receptors in your eyes.
  2. Improves gut health and digestion: Dietary fiber-rich sweet potatoes are also well known for enhancing digestion and gut wellness. Sweet potatoes' high fibre content can also aid in reducing constipation in both kids and adults. Dr. Batra adds that it possesses a significant amount of phytosterol, which protects the digestive system. Duodenal and stomach ulcers may be prevented and treated with it.
  3. Can help to prevent the risk of cancer: Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are essential in the fight against cancer, according to several studies. Carotenoids found in sweet potatoes may help prevent cancer, including male prostate cancer.
  4. Can help to maintain a healthy weight: You would not associate any type of potato with weight reduction due to their high carbohydrate content but sweet potatoes can actually help you lose weight. Sweet potatoes can help you feel satisfied in between meals; their substantial fiber helps you reach your daily goal (38 grams for men and 25 grams for women).

Adding to the list, Dt Vidhi Chawla, Founder of Fisico Diet and Skin Clinic, highlighted -

  1. Nutritional powerhouse: Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, offering an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are particularly rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which supports vision, skin health, and immune function. A medium-sized sweet potato can fulfill your daily vitamin A needs. Additionally, sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, which boosts immunity, and vitamin E, known for its antioxidant properties.
  2. Fiber and digestive health: Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet, aiding in digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which supports a healthy gut and regular bowel movements. Consuming fiber-rich foods like sweet potatoes can help prevent constipation and maintain digestive well-being.
  3. Blood sugar regulation: Contrary to their name, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index compared to regular potatoes, which means they have a less significant impact on blood sugar levels. The fiber content in sweet potatoes contributes to stable blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This property makes sweet potatoes a suitable choice for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar.
  4. Antioxidant benefits: Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Anthocyanins, the pigments responsible for the vibrant colors of some sweet potato varieties, have been linked to potential health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases. These antioxidants play a role in supporting heart health and reducing the risk of certain cancers.

Delicious and Nutritious Recipes:

Dt Vidhi Chawla suggested -

1. Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges: Toss sweet potato wedges with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and your favorite spices. Roast them in the oven until they're crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. These make a perfect side dish or snack.

2. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili: Create a hearty and nutritious chili by combining diced sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes, and spices in a pot. Simmer until the flavors meld together, and serve with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

3. Sweet Potato Smoothie: Blend cooked sweet potato with banana, almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a spoonful of nut butter for a creamy and satisfying breakfast smoothie.

4. Sweet Potato and Kale Salad: Mix roasted sweet potato cubes with fresh kale, cranberries, and your favorite nuts or seeds. Drizzle with a light vinaigrette for a nutrient-packed salad.

5. Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: Bake sweet potatoes until tender and then scoop out the flesh. Mix the sweet potato with cooked quinoa, vegetables, and your choice of protein. Fill the potato skins with this mixture and bake until heated through.

She concluded, “Embracing sweet potatoes in your diet offers a multitude of nutritional benefits, from supporting vision and immunity to aiding digestion and regulating blood sugar. Their versatility makes them suitable for a wide range of dishes, from savory to sweet. Incorporate these nutritious root vegetables into your meals and explore the array of delicious recipes available. By making sweet potatoes a regular part of your culinary repertoire, you'll not only enjoy their delightful flavours but also nourish your body with a wealth of essential nutrients.”

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