Your healthy weight loss meal plan should include tasty alternatives to your favorite foods. The next time you have a craving for French Fries, try baked sweet potato fries instead. You’ll find it a satisfying way to trade artery clogging caloric fat for a bonanza of healthy nutrients.


Why Sweet Potatoes Should Be on Your Weight Loss Meal Plan



Sweet potatoes make a perfect substitution for French fries on your healthy weight loss meal plan.


Quick Facts about Sweet Potatoes


Allow me clear up some of the confusion about sweet potatoes. The white potatoes we commonly bake and fry are a different type of tuber, unrelated to the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes trump their paler namesakes by providing more fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and manganese. Yams, often mislabeled as sweet potatoes in stores, are cousins of sweet potatoes, but also inferior in terms of health benefits.


Sweet potatoes come in a rainbow of colors including white, yellow, orange, and purple. Choose the orange-fleshed variety over the white. The orange color is a clue to its high beta-carotene content, which your body converts to Vitamin A and uses to keep your bones strong, your vision acute, and your immune system strong. If you’re looking for an extra dose of antioxidants, the purple colored potatoes are your best bet, but you may have to go on a treasure hunt to find them. Don’t peel sweet potatoes. You’ll sacrifice some of the fiber which keeps you feeling satiated longer.



Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes are such nutrition standouts that the Journal of Medicinal Food refers to them as “medicinal food.” Eating sweet potatoes can help ward off many of the chronic diseases that afflict us as we age.


1. Sweet Potatoes Are a Weapon Against Obesity

Many of us gain weight as we age and join the ranks of the 2/3 of Americans who are overweight or obese. Eating purple potatoes may help. A scientific analysis of extracts from purple sweet potatoes substantiates their effectiveness for weight control.


2. Sweet Potatoes Help Prevent Breast Cancer

The high beta-carotene content of sweet potatoes provides a potent antioxidant that reduces the cell damage that occurs as we age. In fact, sweet potatoes are three times higher in antioxidants than some varieties of blueberries. Research studies on beta-carotene demonstrate that it is “significantly associated with a reduced breast cancer risk.”


3. Sweet Potatoes Ward off Colds and Other Infections

As we age, our immune systems are not as robust at attacking colds and other viruses. Sweet potatoes contain high levels of Vitamin C, which may reduce the severity and duration of the common cold.


4. Sweet Potatoes Improve Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States. Eating sweet potato greens has cardio-protective effects because it changes the liver fatty acid profiles that predispose us to heart disease.


5. Sweet Potatoes Can Decease Your Chance of Colon Cancer

Ninety percent of new colon cancer cases occur in people who are over 50 years old. A large Japanese study demonstrated that the carotenoids in vegetables like sweet potatoes have protective colon cancer effects.



Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Diabetics?



The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age. While 9.3% of U.S. adults suffer from the disease, among adults over 65 that number soars to 25.9%. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and causes many insidious illnesses including heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney disease.


If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes you worry about what carbs you can eat without spiking your blood sugar. If you diligently monitor the numbers, you’re likely familiar with the term “glycemic index,” a measure of how much eating a particular food affects blood sugar levels.


Unlike white potatoes, which have a high glycemic index, sweet potatoes have a significantly lower index, as well as more fiber, making them a good choice for diabetics. A 2015 systematic review of the research on sweet potatoes concluded that they are a healthy addition to a diabetic diet and may even decrease blood sugar levels.



How to Enjoy Sweet Potatoes on Your Weight Loss Meal Plan



Here are some good ideas about how to use sweet potatoes as part of your weight loss meal plan. Sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving anymore. Use this healthy root vegetable in soups, stews, chili, casseroles, and puddings. Make sweet potato pancakes or waffles for a healthy weekend breakfast. Try this innovative recipe for Sweet Potato Chocolate Mousse from the Whole Foods and indulge your sweet tooth without doing any serious damage to your diet.


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