Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Diabetics?
Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Diabetics? Sweet potatoes are the much better choice for you over white potatoes. Since sweet potatoes are healthier for everyone in general, they are especially good for you if you have diabetes. When I was growing up and for many years after that white potatoes were my choice, but that’s changed now that I have diabetes and working on treating it the natural way.
It’s important when you’re a diabetic to watch what you eat, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. Because carbs have an impact on insulin and glucose levels, it makes them the main focus in conjunction with diabetes. That’s where sweet potatoes can help. They provide significant benefits that are nutritional to neutralize high carbohydrates foods and their effect on your blood sugar.
It’s important to note right away that you should still be counting your carbs because one large sweet potato contains 37 grams of carbs so you would have to be careful about any other foods with carbs for that particular meal. The recommendation of carbs per meal is between 45 and 60 depending on your activity level and your body weight. This is according to the American Diabetes Association. You can choose to have half of a large sweet potato or just choose a smaller or medium sized one.
But digger a little deeper into this, your balance of carbs for a meal might not be totally affected as you might think. By going with a smaller potato, your intake of carbs is less but a substantial amount of those carbohydrates is fiber which will not raise your blood glucose and just adds to being healthier. We need more fiber. Fiber is good because it slows down the digestion rate of starches.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent choice if you have diabetes because of their high fiber content and low glycemic index. For diabetics it’s important to eat foods with a low glycemic index. A glycemix index measures exactly how carbohydrates will affect your blood sugar. This was developed to determine which particular foods are the best for a diabetic person.
How the glycemic index works is that it monitors the rate at which carbs get absorbed into your blood after you digest food. So you want your glycemic index to be as low as possible, because as a diabetic it helps you to avoid having high glucose levels and complications from diabetes. Foods with a glycemic index number under 55 are considered low and healthier. Sweet potatoes have a glycemix index of 44! Go for it!
Research has been done that revealed that there are phytonutrients in sweet potatoes that can aid in preventing heavy metals and free radicals from posing health risks. These phytonutrients are helpful treating issues associated with the digestive tract such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Research on these have shown significant reduction of inflammation.
It’s also good to know that the darker that the orange of the sweet potato is, the more nutrients it contains. Sweet potatoes have no grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs and contains vitamin B6 and vitamin C and more than 250% of daily recommended doses of vitamin A. They are also lower in sugar than white potatoes are. They actually taste sweeter than white potatoes too.
Benefits of sweet potatoes for diabetics
* Emphysema- This is linked to smokers and their air sacs becoming obstructed. Carotenoids and Vitamin A aid in the regeneration of the respiratory system. Sweet potatoes help to prevent emphysema with their high content of Vitamin A and carotenoids.
* Stress- Sweet potatoes can help with your body and its reaction to stress. They also are rich in potassium and magnesium which control the body’s water balance and aids in the flow of oxygen and regulating your heartbeat.
* Your immune system- These potatoes are loaded with vitamin D and help with strengthening your immune system. Your immune system is the lifeblood of your body and keeps you free from disease and keeps you alive and well. That’s a good enough reason!
* Your hair- One of the ingredients of sweet potatoes, beta-carotene, is responsible for great looking and healthy hair. That works for me! As I get older I have less hair so I might as well have it looking the best possible now!
* Vitamin C- This vitamin is known for helping with the common cold, flu and a nagging cough. We all know how uncomfortable these conditions can be so why not get as much vitamin C as we can by adding sweet potatoes to your diet.
* Minerals- Sweet potatoes boost your nutrient levels big time by providing minerals and nutrients such as iron and calcium and protein and carbohydrates.
* Insulin resistance- Because sweet potatoes contain a natural sugar that helps controls your blood sugar levels, it is insulin resistant. This makes them one the most beneficial foods for a person with diabetes.
* Healthy muscles and tissues- How do sweet potatoes help? They have important nutrients that assist in helping to regulate nerve signals that are being sent to the heart and brain. This results in the fighting off the uncomfortable feelings of cramps and swelling you experience and in turn eases your muscles.
* Your heart- The health of your heart is obviously extremely important. In order to lessen your chances of heart disease, you need a controlled blood pressure and the potassium in sweet potatoes helps your pressure and balances your electrolytes. Keep an eye on your blood pressure and check it frequently.
* Your eyes- Nothing is more important than your eyesight. With diabetes, your eyes should be checked once or twice a year. I have mine checked twice a year. With diabetes you’re more prone to eye diseases so having them checked is a must. The carotenoids in sweet potatoes convert into vitamin A and provide powerful ways to protect your eyes. Carrots and sweet potatoes are a great combination against eye disease.
* Prevent weight gain- With its fiber content sweet potatoes are easily digested, control blood sugar levels and help in preventing sugar cravings. No sugar cravings leads to no weight gain for diabetics. Keeping your weight down will help your glucose numbers! It’s hard to lose weight or not gain it but when you control the sugar cravings as sweet potatoes do it makes it much easier.
* Dehydration- Sweet potatoes help your body in retaining water because of the roughage and fiber content. This helps in keeping you hydrated, maintaining the balance of water in your body and most importantly keeps all your cells functioning properly. It’s a known fact that we all must drink plenty of water every day. Sweet potatoes help to assist in staying hydrated.
* Cancer fighter- How powerful is beta-carotene in your diet? Well you can help yourself with a sweet potato to fight and lessen your risk of cancer because of the beta-carotene. Researchers revealed that a diet rich in beta-carotenes can lower the risk of prostate cancer by almost 40%! That’s a powerful result just by eating sweet potatoes.
The typical sweet potato that is orange in color is awesome because it contains properties that are anti-carcinogenic. Again, the beta-carotene is possibly able to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer as well. However, did you know that purple sweet potatoes are even MORE effective in fighting off cancer than the typical orange potatoes? Purple ones are more powerful with cancer fighting and stopping the growth of cancer cells. Go purple!
* Maintain dental care- The way to protect your gums and teeth is with vitamin C. While vitamin C doesn’t cure gum disease, low levels of vitamin C can possibly be a risk factor for periodontitis. Vitamin C is important for your gums so let sweet potatoes help!
* Wrinkles- While age plays a natural part in the skin aging and wrinkling, there are things you can do to reduce and help prevent the wrinkles. Protection from the sun is the main defense against skin aging and wrinkles. But again the vitamin C in sweet potatoes has anti-aging properties because it is able to aid in the process of collagen. Sweet potatoes with its vitamin C offer all the things that anti-aging creams do.
* Manganese- There were studies done about manganese using rats to determine if a deficiency of manganese affected carbohydrate metabolism and rats given manganese were found to have a glucose intolerance. The conclusion was that manganese played an important role in controlling blood glucose levels. Sweet potatoes contain 28% of the daily recommended allowance.
* Healthy bones- Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin D which not only is beneficial for your heart, teeth, and skin but helps your bones as well. Vitamin D helps your thyroid glands to function properly as well. You need strong bones especially as you get older. You should keep this in mind even when you’re younger.
Caution and side effects of sweet potatoes
* Stomach pain- There is a certain type of sugar in sweet potatoes called mannitol. If you happen to have a stomach that is on the sensitive side you may frequent stomach pain each time you consume sweet potatoes.
* Kidney stones and gallstones- Oxalates have a tendency to crystallize when there are high amounts of them together. This being the case with sweet potatoes and they can form calcium oxalate kidney stones and you do not want to experience this for sure. Folks with this problem should obviously consult with their physician. If sweet potatoes are the cause, then it’s best to avoid them altogether.
* Blood sugar spikes- Sweet potato is low on the glycemic index at 44 but how they are prepared makes all the difference in the world. You can boil the potatoes and your index level is 44, but if you bake it? Your glycemix index shoots up to 94! You don’t want these numbers this high. Sweet potatoes are healthy for you and if you have diabetes. But the bottom line is to eat in moderation and choose the correct way to prepare them.
So are sweet potatoes good for diabetics? Sweet potatoes are very healthy and tasty. Like anything else, make sure you check with your doctor if you think you may have a problem but for the most part they are good for you. They do help with lowering your blood sugar but remember, only in moderation. They do contain carbs! If you find that your blood sugar levels are still too high and you need something more powerful to help, this can help you best!
If you have questions and would like to leave a comment please do so below. I would appreciate it! Thank you for reading and I hope I helped you learn something new about sweet potatoes and diabetes!