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Health Benefits of Sweet potatoes ‘Shakarkand’

Sweet potatoes ‘shakarkand’, finds its origin in Meghalaya region of North East, and not in Central America, as originally thought.

Underground tubers, India, sweet potatoes ‘shakarkand’ offer immense health benefits like improving insulin sensitivity in diabetes, maintaining blood pressure levels and it is also said to be helpful in helping reduce the risk of cancer.

Sweet potato commonly known as ‘Shakarkand’ in Hindi is a sweet-tasting, starchy vegetable. The outer skin of a sweet potato is thin and brown. The inner flesh is bright-coloured. There are several other types of sweet potatoes. Some of them have cream-coloured or white flesh. They have a sweet and creamy taste. Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, vitamins, potassium, and other essential nutrients. 

Potential Health Benefits

Nutritional facts of Sweet potato

As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 124 gm of mashed sweet potato contains 108 cal, 2 gm of proteins, 2.48 gm of fiber, 18.7 gm of carbohydrates, 3 gm of fats, 50.8 mg of calcium, 0.7 mg of iron, 259 mg of potassium, 19.8 mg of magnesium, 50.8 mg of phosphorus, 306 mg of sodium, 7.44 mcg of folate, 14.4 mg of choline, 823 mcg of vitamin A, and 12.8 mg of vitamin C.

1/5. Regulates blood pressure and 

1. The high content of potassium and magnesium present in sweet potatoes helps regulate blood pressure. Potassium removes excess sodium and fluid from the body thus, reducing the blood pressure and the strain on the heart. Magnesium prevents hypertension

2. Because of the factors mentioned above, Sweet potatoes ‘shakarkand’ helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

2/5. Reduces the risk of cancer

1. The peel of shakarkand is rich in antioxidants which reduce the oxidation process hence, decreasing the risk of cancer. 

2. Sweet potato’s anti-cancer activity contributes to its high anthocyanin content.

3. Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene which acts as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants decrease the risk of several types of cancer, such as lung and prostate cancer.

4. Extracts from different parts of shakarkand induce cell death in prostate cancer cells thus, inhibiting the spread and growth to other parts of the prostate. 

5. The high polyphenol content of shakarkand contributes to the control of prostate cancer.

3/5. Controls blood sugar

1. The compounds present in sweet potatoes help control blood sugar. 

2. Sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index thus, preventing the rise of blood sugar. 

3. The high fiber and magnesium content help in the prevention and management of diabetes.

4/5. Helps in weight loss

1. The soluble and fermentable fiber present in sweet potato increases satiety and provides a natural mechanism for body weight regulation.

2. Pectin content of sweet potato is effective in decreasing food intake, weight gain, and also in increasing satiety.

5/5. Other posible Benefits

Shakarkand produces several health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces a few more such as lowers the risk of eye diseases, reduces bad cholesterol, improves digestion, prevents constipation, boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, prevents vitamin A deficiency, helps manage stress levels, guards against ulcers, help in minimising the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improves hair and skin health, boosts fertility, and enhances brain function.

Sweet potatoes have high levels of potassium hence its consumption should be controlled in people who take beta-blockers for cardiovascular disease. Also, people who are have Chronic Kidney Disease and/or is on dialysis, should take medical advise before consuming shakarkandi. 

How to incorporate Sweet potatoes into the diet?

Sweet potatoes can be easily added to the diet. They can be consumed with or without the skin. They can be baked, roasted, mashed, boiled, fried, pan-cooked, or steamed. Some of the ways by which they can be incorporated into the diet are:

  • Whip them into a smoothie or puree 
  • Used as a base for a soup. 
  • Used in salads or as toppings. 
  • As chips or fries.
  • Used as desserts.

How to Prepare Roasted Sweet Potato Fries?

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse well 1 large sweet potato and cut it into thin strips.

Take ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix all together. Toss in the potatoes and coat them with the spice mixture.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes. Turn them and bake it on both sides for approximately15 minutes or until the fries are browned and crisp.

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