Baked Sweet Potato with our Bean There Done That filling
It that time of year when we all have a deeper love of cosy golden, auburn and rustic colours and that also stretches into the kitchen where we reach for comfort foods that fill us up with the least amount of fuss. And for me theres nothing better that ticks all those boxes than the humble Sweet Potato.
So why do I love these nutritional powerhouses so much?
Heres my 5 top reasons to include Sweet Potatoes in your diet this Autumn:
1) MOOD ELEVATION
As the weather gets colder and getting out of bed to scrape the ice off windscreens can make us a tad miserable we can all do with ensuring we are getting the right vitamins and minerals to support our mood.
Sweet Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin B6 which plays a key role in Neurological health including the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine that largely control mood.
Another key mineral that plays a role in mood is Magnesium. Sweet potatoes are a good source of this mineral that plays a key part in elevating mood, reducing stress, preventing anxiety and assisting sleep.
A good handful of sweet potato will provide around 35% of your RDA of B6 and 20% of your Magnesium.
2) SLOW ENERGY RELEASE
Sweet Potatoes are a Low GI Food source which helps to keep blood sugar levels steady and avoid sugar spikes.
Low GI Foods are absorbed and digested by the body slowly and this helps you to feel fuller for longer and creates a slower energy release which is always key for this time of year ready for skipping through leaves in the park or Halloween parties!
Additionally Sweet Potatoes are a good source of Manganese which has a part to play in blood sugar control by helping a process called Gluconeogenesis. This is the scientific term for amino acids being converting into sugar. Manganese has a critical role in bone production and collagen production. Helping keep that spring in your step (and spring back in your skin!) for longer.
A good handful of Sweet Potatoes provides 50% of your RDA of Manganese.
3) IMMUNE BOOSTING
Coughs, colds and the flu are in the air this time of year and so its essential to focus on immune boosting foods that give us the best defence against germs and disease. Not only are Sweet Potatoes a good source of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant known for its role in immune support and boosting but also they are a good source of Carotenoids.
Carotenoids are offered in abundance in Sweet Potatoes and help to increase our immunity by increasing anti viral activity and boosting the functionality of our white blood cells which are our bodies best defence against disease and infection.
Carotenoids also support and maintain the mucus membranes of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tract (to mention just a few) which are our bodies front line fighters in protecting against viral and bacterial infections.
A BIT ABOUT CAROTENOIDS:
Carotenoids are Vitamin A from plant based sources. Your body needs to convert them to Vitamin A to use them. This conversion isn't the same for everyone and a large factor to the success of the conversion depends on your diet. In particular the amount of healthy fat in your diet as even though Vitamin A is water soluble, healthy fats play a huge part in assisting the conversion. This is why you will always find healthy fats in the Sweet Potato dishes at Rawr and why we always push Good Carbs, Good Protein and Good Fats on every plate as ensuring not only a balanced diet in key food groups but also how the Vitamins and Minerals they contain perform and are utilised.
Additionally Vitamin A not only plays a critical role in Vision health but in keeping clear and healthy skin due to being a good source of Antioxidants and fighting free radical damage. Just in time for when Jack Frost comes to town!
A good handful of Sweet Potatoes gives you 4 times the RDA of Vitamin A and so is one of the best (and yummiest) sources.
4) FERTILITY & PREGNANCY
Sweet Potatoes are a good source of Iron. Studies conducted over almost a decade show that women who have enough iron in their diets are 40% more likely to conceive and support a healthy pregnancy than those who are deficient. Plant based sources are classed as non-heme Iron meaning they have to be converted to be absorbed and this again can be helped along by combining with other Vitamins, primarily Vitamin C of which Sweet Potatoes offer in abundance.
Additionally Sweet Potatoes are a good source of Choline (which i will talk about more in reason 5) but have a key part to play in Neural Tube Production. A deficiency of Choline is linked to Neural tube birth defects increasing the risk of Spinal Cord and Brain defects in Newborns and is therefore critical during Fetal Development.
5) REDUCING INFLAMMATION
We are big on anti inflammatory foods here at RAWR and its not just from the perspective of Arthritic conditions and injury but inflammation affects every aspect of our health. Did you know that inflammation can be the route cause of many diseases such as Alzheimers, Coeliac Disease, Cancer and Thyroid Conditions to mention just a few?
Inflammation is your body's response to stress and when you are suffering from constant inflammation responses it can leave you susceptible to disease. For example chronic inflammation can destroy cells in the brain causing Alzheimers and inflammatory cytokines (which is a substance produced by the immune system to relay signals between the immune cells) can cause a variety of other issues in the body from inducing auto immune responses against the airway lining leading to asthma to damaging the intestinal lining leading to digestive conditions such as Crohns and Coeliac Disease.
So Anti Inflammatory foods should be top of the list as part of everyday diet and there are so many foods under this umbrella that you really can include something with this function everyday.
Sweet Potatoes for instance are a good source of Choline, Betaine and Glycine. This combination is ideal as Betaine is a derivative of Choline and works in tandem with Glycine to function optimally. Choline suppresses Inflammatory Responses and Studies show that the Mediterranean diet which is generally higher in Choline and Betaine have lower rates of inflammation and therefore lower related conditions such as heart disease. Not only that but diets low in Choline are linked to Birth Defects, Fatty Liver Disease and due to its role in Neurotransmission functionality Choline deficiencies have a key role in Cognitive decline Conditions such as Dementia.
So Sweet Potato, hungry for some?
Including it in your diet can be interesting, varied and delicious from Roasted with a topping to mashed in a Sunday roast to boiled and on a salad or even made into brownie with cacao.
Little Miss Autumn Pie Dessert made with Sweet Potato
Wanting some inspiration? Pop into to see us at RAWR Juice & Superfood Bar Newcastle-under-Lyme or at our brand new location in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, Hanley for our variety of Sit in or Take out Sweet Potato Dishes. A nutritionally Perfect, warming and filling lunch and often a good starting point for your Sweet Potato love affair!
If you want to know more about how food plays a key role in Health and in preventing and fighting diseases. Get in touch and book a consultation and start making steps towards changing your relationship with food today.
Written by Gemma Bloor - Nutritional Therapist
Director of Nutrition, RAWR Juice & Superfood Bar