Sweet potato is recommended for diabetics

The sweet potato is not related to the spud family and has different nutrients too. While potato is a tuber or a thickened stem, the sweet potato is a storage root. Loaded with nutrients, sweet potatoes are among the American Diabetes Association's top 10 diabetes super foods.

Though it originated in Latin America, Asia is its largest producer. It is the sixth most important food crop after rice, wheat, potatoes, maize and cassava.

Rich in starch and fibre, the nature of carbohydrates in sweet potato differ from that of potatoes. Its high fibre content contributes to a lower glycemic index (44), almost half of potato's glycemic index (80). This makes the sweet potato a useful carbohydrate source for weight watchers and diabetics. According to a 2004 study led by a University of Vienna professor, Dr Berhhard Ludvik, published in the journal Diabetes Care, type 2 diabetes patients who ate sweet potato saw a significant reduction in blood glucose levels and overall improvement in glucose control. When you eat sweet potato with its skin, it gives you more fibre than oatmeal.

Cooking methods also affect the glycemic index of sweet potato. For diabetics, certain cooking methods are more conducive to managing blood sugar levels. Boiled or mashed sweet potatoes are not recommended as they can be digested faster, thus increasing their glycemic index and causing blood sugar levels to spike. Similar to fibre, fat will slow the rate of digestion and therefore maintain the low glycemic index, so a good cooking method for diabetics is sautéing in oil or roasting without removing its skin.

According to the American Diabetes Association, sweet potato has high fibre content, antioxidant nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, zinc, and other micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, iron and Vitamin B, which help in diabetes management and prevention of diabetes complications such as heart attacks.

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