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7 Benefits of Sweet Potato That Might Blow Your Mind

7 Benefits of Sweet Potato That Might Blow Your Mind

When’s the last time you ate a sweet potato? As a healthy, starchy vegetable, sweet potatoes make a perfect addition to any meal. They also stand alone as a great snack with a little a bit of coconut oil and salt.

Sweet potatoes are part of the root vegetable family that includes beets, carrots, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga and others. A little known fact is that the yam which makes an appearance around autumn, is actually a type of sweet potato. Who knew? Now you have a conversation starter at your dinner party.

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Another added benefit is that unlike the regular potato, this veggie has a sweet flavor that satisfies a sweet tooth craving, but avoids the sugar crash that is often associated with processed sugar. Here are a few other ways that sweet potatoes are highly beneficial — and the reasons why you should add them to your plate.

They are rich in nutrients

Full of beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A when it is consumed, this veggie is a wise choice for optimal health. A big, 180-gram sweet potato baked in the oven with its skin has 1,730 micrograms of vitamin A. (The daily requirement is only 900 micrograms for men and 700 micrograms or women.) Vitamin A is crucial for a well-balanced diet because it helps with the tasks of regulating, repairing and growth various systems within your body (for example the growth and repair of your bones).

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They help control diabetes

Sweet potatoes rank low on the glycemic index scale and current research suggests that they may have a chance at decreasing the frequency of low blood sugar and insulin resistance episodes that occur in people with diabetes. The high levels of fiber also assist with type 1 diabetics to  decrease blood glucose levels and individuals with type 2 diabetics could have more stable blood sugar, insulin and lipid levels. A single medium-sized sweet potato has about 6 grams of fiber with its skin still intact. According to the Institute of Medicine, men should have a daily amount of 25 grams of fiber a day and women around 38 grams.

They help regulate digestion

The high level of fiber that is present in sweet potatoes is ideal for promoting a healthy digestive system and prevents constipation. The presence of magnesium also aids in creating a smooth-running GI system.

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They help prevent stomach ulcers

Not only are sweet potatoes great for curing digestive issues, but they are also known to be an ideal preventative measure against stomach ulcers due to the presence of B-complex vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium and potassium — all substances that have healing power when it comes to curing stomach ulcers.

They help prevent arthritis

The beta-carotene, zinc, magnesium and vitamin-B complex present in sweet potatoes are critical in battling arthritis. An added bonus is that if you boil sweet potatoes, the remaining water can be rubbed externally on joints to lessen the pain that is associated with this illness.

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They help prevent cancer

According to a study done by Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, it is beneficial for younger men to consume a diet high diet in beta-carotene, in order to possibly ward off prostate cancer. In a separate study, beta-carotene has been shown to display an inverse association with colon cancer.

They improve vision

Jill Koury, MD, a Duke University ophthalmologist, claims that Vitamin A deficiency is responsible for the deterioration of the outer portions of the eye’s photoreceptors, resulting in damaged vision. The natural preventative solution? Consuming foods high in beta-carotene that will help with recovering vision. It is also important to note that the antioxidant-rich vitamins E and C present in sweet potatoes have been proven to increase healthy eyes and decrease the risk of degenerative damage.

So what are you waiting for? Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s ways for keeping you healthy — and they taste delicious. Try incorporating them into your diet today!

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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