This World Diabetes day, diabetics in India can go all pink-pink with new currency and pink with potatoes!

Sweet Potato is a root vegetable, large, starchy and sweet-tasting in nature. It exists in many varieties with the skin and flesh color ranging from white to yellow, red, pinkish purple or brown. It is only distantly related to the potato.

What makes Sweet Potato a Go-For food for diabetics?

Many people think about starchy root vegetables as a food group that cannot be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. That is because they realize that food starches can be converted by our digestive tract into simple sugars, which is true. What is fascinating about Sweet Potatoes is their ability to potentially improve blood sugar regulation-even in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Let us see how:

  • It is rich in dietary fiber which plays 2 important roles in controlling blood sugar:
  • A) delays the process of digestion and absorption of glucose in the blood stream
  • B) provides bulk to the meal to help make you feel full
  • The Glycemic Index (GI) of Sweet Potatoes is in the medium range which is great for diabetes control. GI is the ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.
  • Last but not the least, it helps satisfy a sweet craving in a healthy way.

Other Important Benefits of Sweet Potato

  • Standout source of Beta Carotene – Orange fleshed sweet potato is wealthy in the pigment beta carotene which is a precursor of Vitamin A. Thus, consuming orange Sweet Potatoes will help develop a good vision, strong immune system, proper cell growth and healthy skin.
  • Anti - inflammatory property – The pink and purple fleshed Sweet Potatoes contain a pigment called ‘Anthocyanin’ which exerts anti – inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It inhibits the effect of toxic free radicals and offers protection against infection and inflammation. Anthocyanins – the disease fighting compounds provide the bright red - orange to blue- violet colors to many fruits and vegetables like strawberries, black grapes, beetroot, brinjal, purple cabbage, etc.
  • Helps you lose weight – Since it is loaded with dietary fiber, Sweet Potatoes when consumed absorb water and fill up your stomach faster. This helps you stick to a calorie- restricted diet. They also contain a specific kind of fiber called resistant starch. Certain studies report that a diet rich in resistant starch helps reduce the risk of obesity.

Comparison between White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Although you can see that the carbohydrate and sugar content in sweet potatoes is higher than white potatoes, there is no reason to cringe. The reason is that the GI is of more importance here as it determines the pace of at which glucose enters the blood stream after eating a particular food. And the fiber in sweet potato steadies this pace.

A few helpful kitchen ideas

  • The American Diabetes Association recommends that a diabetic should consume no more than 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal so one can easily have 1 medium sized Sweet Potato providing around 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrates along with other foods not so high in carbohydrates.
  • The healthiest way of having Sweet Potatoes is in the boiled form. When compared to roasting or baking, boiling has been shown to have a more favorable impact on blood sugar regulation. This cooking method also ensures maximum availability of beta carotene in Sweet Potatoes. You can enjoy a tasty Sweet Potato chaat by adding mint chutney, curd, roasted peanuts and salad to it.
  • You can further reduce the carbohydrate content of your mashed Sweet Potatoes by mixing them with equal amounts of mashed cauliflower or any other vegetable.
  • Including a bit of fat in the form of butter, olive oil or avocado while serving your Sweet Potatoes is a good idea. Multiple studies have shown better absorption of beta-carotene from Sweet Potatoes when fat-containing foods are consumed along with them. This is because Vitamin A requires fat as a medium for it’s metabolism and transportation in the body.