Who Says Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Aren’t For Summer? Have These Healthy “Fall Treats” All Year.

By on May 20, 2019
Summer

Summer is quickly approaching. But this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy two of fall’s most popular stars: sweet potato and pumpkin. Peak sweet potato season is during the winter and fall but these healthy tubers are generally available year-round. Pumpkin is usually harvested around mid-fall, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy pumpkin spice, which includes a blend of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and sometimes allspice year round.

And perhaps you should have these “fall treats” this summer, because they both have great potential health benefits.

 Sweet potatoes, not to be confused with yams, are root vegetables that have been cultivated for thousands of years. There are more than 400 varieties of sweet potatoes around the world! You are probably most familiar with the delicious, orange-fleshed sweet potato, but there is also a beautiful purple sweet potato that is worth trying.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), “[b]ioactive compounds contained in this vegetable [the sweet potato] play a role in health promotion by improving immune function, reducing oxidative stress and free radical damage, reducing cardiovascular disease risk, and suppressing cancer cell growth.”

Other health perks of eating sweet potatoes may include:

  • Fighting inflammation.

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation by diminishing free radical damage. If we can reduce our amount of free radical damage, we may also be able to lower our risk of life-threatening diseases, like cancer. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have more than 400 percent of your daily vitamin A needs! However, make sure to eat them with a little bit of good fat, like olive oil. The fat helps your body better absorb the vitamin A.

  • Protection from dangerous heavy metals.

 Purple sweet potatoes may be able to lower the potential health risks posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. They are rich in compounds called anthocyanins, which provide a lot of antioxidant activity and may bind to heavy metals, like mercury, and help remove them from the body.

  • Help with liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption.

Anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes are also associated with improving liver damage from alcohol abuse, according to a study with mice conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

  • Blood sugar Regulation.

Sweet potatoes contain adiponectin, a protein made by fat cells that circulate in the bloodstream. Low levels of this protein have been found in people who have trouble metabolizing insulin.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined 14,598 people and found that “[h]igher adiponectin levels were monotonically associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.” Furthermore, “[t]his inverse association was consistently observed in whites, East Asians, Asian Indians, African Americans, and Native Americans and did not differ by adiponectin assay, method of diabetes ascertainment, duration of follow-up, or proportion of women.”

Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber. Fiber helps pace digestion, which is good for regulating blood sugar levels.

Sweet potatoes also contain many other essential nutrients we all need to stay healthy, especially as we get older, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, folate and choline.

For a great, simple summer side dish, cut up some sweet potatoes and roast them in the oven. You can even throw them over a salad or make sweet potato fries in olive oil for your next barbeque.

Pumpkin spice is everything nice.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t wait for Halloween or Thanksgiving to enjoy a bit of pumpkin spice in my oatmeal or tea.

And the cornucopia of spices (ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon) that comprise pumpkin spice may benefit you health wise. For example, ginger helps with digestion and cloves are said to inhibit tumor growth.

Nutmeg is packed with important nutrients such as dietary fiber, manganese, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, copper, and macelignan (which is known to have antibacterial properties among other benefits).

Reportedly, nutmeg may be helpful in alleviating gastrointestinal disorders, managing rheumatic pain, healing skin wounds and infections as well as serve as a calming agent.

And cinnamon has powerful antioxidant properties. This spice may also lower bad cholesterol levels and triglyceride (a type of fat found in the blood) levels, which may help prevent heart disease. Cinnamon may help manage diabetes and serve as a natural antimicrobial. It is also high in calcium (just one teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains 26 mg of calcium). Of course, calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. This mineral is also important for maintaining hair and nail health in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Adequate calcium intake may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer. Potassium is another essential mineral found in cinnamon.

Summer tends to be that time of year when we may overindulge in foods and beverages, like ice cream and cocktails. But balance these indulges with nutrient-rich foods like sweet potatoes and pumpkin allspice which are packed with flavor, and you can use them in so many different ways. Your health may thank you.

SummerJoy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH), a revolutionary health care company that provides tools needed to achieve optimal health. Her new book, Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy is available through Amazon. All proceeds from the book will be donated to The Bili Project Foundation, an organization devoted to reducing the incident and improve the outcome of Hepatobiliary cancers, which are cancers of the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts. Connect with Proactive Health Labs on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest

 

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Who Says Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Aren’t For Summer? Have These Healthy “Fall Treats” All Year.