A staple in the diets of our grandparents and great-grandparents, sweet potatoes and yams really need to make a come-back in modern diets. In addition to being tasty, sweet potatoes provide top nutrition for skin and hair. According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes.
CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With a nutritional score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium – all providing solid hair nutrition for longer hair. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food.
- Sweet potato (baked) 184
- Potato, baked 83
- Spinach 76
- Kale 55
- Mixed Vegetables 52
- Broccoli 52
- Winter Squash, Baked 44
- Brussels Sprouts 37
- Cabbage, Raw 34
- Green Peas 33
- Carrot 30
- Okra 30
- Corn on the Cob 27
- Tomato 27
- Green Pepper 26
- Cauliflower 25
- Artichoke 24
- Romaine Lettuce 24
The reasons the sweet potato took first place? Dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. The sweet potato received a score of 184; the vegetable ranked in second place was more than 100 points behind with a score of 83.
Sweet potatoes are high in the following: beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C; fiber, thiamine, niacin, potassium and copper. They are also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin E supporting solid hair nutrition.
The numbers for the nutritional sweet potato speak for themselves: almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal. All these benefits with only about 130 to 160 calories!
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts (for one medium size sweet potato)
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 2.15 g
Net Carbs 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
Calcium 28.6 mg
Sodium 16.9 mg
Potassium 265.2 mg
Folate 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C 29.51 mg
Vitamin A 26081.9 IU
Sweet Potatoes Offer Protection from Certain Cancers
A 1986 National Cancer Institute study found that men (all smokers) who consumed 2 and one half cups of sweet potatoes, winter squash, or carrots each day contracted lung cancer at half the rate of those who ate none.
Richard Baybutt, an associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State University discovered that a well-known carcinogen in cigarette smoke depletes the body of vitamin A.
Baybutt’s research on laboratory animals has demonstrated that vitamin A deficiency leads to emphysema and a diet rich in vitamin A can greatly reduce the onset of the disease. He believes this may explain why some long term smokers do not develop lung disease.
Also, another of the sweet potato nutrients, fiber, has demonstrated the ability to bind cholesterol in lab experiments. Of the 28 fruit and vegetable fibers the researchers tested, sweet potato fiber demonstrated the strongest cholesterol binding effect which makes sweet potatoes (as well as oatmeal) great for those with high blood lipids and high cholesterol.
Good Nutrition Even for Diabetics
Among root vegetables, sweet potatoes offer the lowest ranking on the glycemic index which is important for those with diabetes. That’s because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer. Following a high-protein/low carbohydrate diet may result in a loss of pounds on the scale, as you sacrifice fiber, and many different vitamins and minerals. Consider returning sweet potatoes to your regular eating program for better hair nutrition and longer, healthier hair.
- Sweet Potato Nutrition – Six Amazing Facts You Need to Know
- U.S. Department of Agriculture – Fact Sheet (fresh sweet potatoes)
- SELF Nutrition Data
- The Center for Science in the Public Interest – 10 Best and 10 Worst Food
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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