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7 Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes That Will Surprise You (+5 Recipes)

7 Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes That Will Surprise You (+5 Recipes)

Ahh, the sweet potato. It is the red-headed stepchild to the potato family. Those of you who enjoy potatoes, you might like to think the people who eat sweet potatoes are pretty weird. You think they are probably the same person who stood all by themselves by the fence during recess or whose mother packed him a sandwich using wheat bread and raspberry jam.

But for those of us who love sweet potatoes, we work really hard to advocate the health benefits and to convert people to our sweet potato cult. So I am standing up for the sweet potato-, raspberry-, wheat bread-lovers to share with you the amazing health benefits of sweet potatoes.

1. They contain the god of vitamins

Vitamin D is probably the most important vitamin to keep the human body healthy and fit. It aids our overall health and our immune system. Typically, Vitamin D is made from the sun, which is easy to get in the summer. However, if you drew the short stick for the location you were born, sweet potatoes can help you overcome things like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Vitamin D also plays a critical role in our energy levels, helps us build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin and teeth, and supports the thyroid glands.

2. They will reduce your stress

Sweet potatoes contain mineral iron, which not only aids in energy, but also aids in red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and helps metabolizes protein.

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3. They fight against heart attacks

One of the benefits of sweet potatoes is that they contain Vitamin B6, which reduces the chemical homocysteine that has been linked to cause common degenerative diseases.

4. They are the fountain of youth

They will not make you younger, but sweet potatoes contain Vitamin C, which produces collagen–a structural protein that keeps the skin elastic.

5. They help regulate your heart and nervous system

The sweet potato contains the electrolyte potassium, which performs many functions such as regulating your heartbeat, reducing swelling, protecting your kidneys, and relaxing muscle contractions.

6. They are sweet without the weight gain

Yeah, I know. It is in the name. The sweet potato’s natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, meaning you get a steady supply of energy without the weight gain and fatigue that comes with other sugars.

7. They will give you supervision

Probably not enough to make you a superhero, so put those capes and tights back in your closet. Maybe someday you will get a superpower. Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids like beta carotene, which helps improve your eyesight and boost your immune system.

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Get the Benefits of Sweet Potatoes With These 5 Amazing Recipes

Sweet potatoes can be eaten plain, but they are much better when they are prepared in a dish that is so delicious, even non-sweet potato lovers will enjoy it.

Savory sweet potato fries

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    Ingredients:
    2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into French fry-size pieces
    1 tablespoon olive oil, or as needed
    2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, or to taste
    coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
    Toss sweet potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl until evenly coated. Arrange sweet potatoes on a baking sheet.
    Bake in the preheated oven until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

    Sweet potato burritos

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    sweetpotatoeburrito

      Ingredients:
      1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      1 onion, chopped
      4 cloves garlic, minced
      6 cups canned kidney beans, drained
      2 cups water
      3 tablespoons chili powder
      4 teaspoons prepared mustard
      2 teaspoons ground cumin
      1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
      3 tablespoons soy sauce
      4 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
      12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
      8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

      Directions:
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
      Heat oil in a medium skillet; saute onion and garlic until soft. Mash beans into the onion mixture. Gradually stir in water; heat until warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the soy sauce, chili powder, mustard, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
      Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the tortillas; top with cheese. Fold tortillas burrito-style around the fillings and place on a baking sheet.
      Bake in the preheated oven until warmed through, about 12 minutes.

      Mashed sweet potato

      shutterstock_79399837

        Ingredients:
        6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
        3/4 cup milk
        1/2 cup butter
        3/4 cup maple syrup

        Directions:
        Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
        With an electric mixer on low, blend potatoes, slowly adding milk, about 1/2 a cup at a time. Use more or less to achieve desired texture. Add butter and maple syrup to taste. Blend until smooth. Serve warm.

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        Sweet potato salad

        sweetpotatosalad

          Ingredients:
          2 potatoes
          1 sweet potato
          4 eggs
          2 stalks celery, chopped
          1/2 onion, chopped
          3/4 cup mayonnaise
          1 tablespoon prepared mustard
          1 teaspoon salt
          1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

          Directions:
          Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool, peel and chop.
          Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water; cool, peel and chop.
          Combine the potatoes, eggs, celery and onion.
          Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Add to potato mixture, toss well to coat. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

          Roasted sweet potato with garlic

          roastedsweetpotato

            Ingredients:
            2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
            2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut in 1-inch chunks
            Onions Sweet
            3 tablespoons olive oil
            1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
            1 teaspoon dried thyme
            Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
            1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

            Directions:
            Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
            Toss first six ingredients in a shallow medium-sized baking dish.
            Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 20 minutes more. Sprinkle with almonds

            Featured photo credit: Brent Hofacker via shutterstock.com

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            Last Updated on November 12, 2020

            Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

            Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

            If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

            If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

            In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

            What Happens When You’re Too Tired

            If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

            Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

            • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
            • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
            • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
            • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
            • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
            • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
            • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

            Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

            Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

            Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

            1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
            2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
            3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

            The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

            Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

            You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

            Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

            If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

            Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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            Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

            Symptoms of fatigue include:

            • Difficulty concentrating
            • Low stamina
            • Difficulty sleeping
            • Anxiety
            • Low motivation

            These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

            Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

            How Much Sleep Is Enough?

            The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

            Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

            Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

              The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

              Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

              Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

              If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

              It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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              4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

              Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

              1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
              2. Exercising regularly
              3. Using stressbusters
              4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

              After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

              I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

              Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

              • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
              • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
              • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
              • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

              The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

              Living Healthy

              Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

              In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

              As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

              Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

              1. Unplug

              Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

              Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

              2. Unwind

              Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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              3. Get Comfortable

              Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

              Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

              Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

              This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

              Exercise

              Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

              That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

              I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

              If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

              Attitude

              Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

              When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

              But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

              Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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              1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
              2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
              3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
              4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
              5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
              6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

              This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

              When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

              Nutrition

              Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

              If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

              Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

              Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

              1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
              2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
              3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
              4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
              5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
              6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
              7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
              8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
              9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

              Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

              That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

              Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

              The Bottom Line

              If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

              If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

              Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

              More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

              Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
              [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
              [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
              [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
              [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
              [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
              [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
              [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
              [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
              [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
              [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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