Of the different colors of sweet potatoes, my absolute favorite is the purple variety. Everyone in our family loves it. We often have them for lunch. The lavender colored cousin of the familiar orange and yellow variety of sweet potato has a very flavorful and pleasant floral aroma. Purple sweet potato is also known as Okinawan sweet potato. We love our purple sweet potatoes steamed or boiled with palm sugar, ginger and pandan leaves (screwpine leaves).
The Okinawan sweet potato is not related to the potato but is actually in the morning glory family. Native to the Americas, it was brought to Japan sometime between 1492 and 1605. The hardy plant grew well in Japan and quickly became popular in a variety of Japanese dishes. When it eventually made its way to the Hawaiian Islands, brought by the Polynesians, the crop flourished in the rich volcanic soil.
Don’t you just love the beautiful vibrant purple color of the purple sweet potato? They are packed with anthocyanins, which may have anti-inflammatory properties.
Purple sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. A medium potato serving yields 1,643 retinol activity equivalents — retinol being a form of vitamin A used in measuring vitamin amounts. The daily recommendation for vitamin A is 600 to 900 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents. The brightly hued tuber also contributes 812 milligrams of potassium toward your 4,700-milligram-per-day adequate intake and 58 milligrams of calcium toward the 1,000-milligram-per-day recommendation.
Purple sweet potatoes are also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Sweet potatoes are known to improve blood sugar regulation and some studies have discovered significant antibacterial and antifungal properties. The primary nutritional benefit, and the one for which Okinawan sweet potatoes are especially prized, is their high antioxidant levels. The antioxidant known as anthocyanin is the pigment which is responsible for the brilliant purple color of the flesh. It is the same pigment that gives blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage their color.
These are some of the health benefits of purple sweet potatoes:
Jam-packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Help lower and regulate blood pressure.
May prevent blood clots.
High in fiber and can prevent constipation
They are low in GI and can stabilize blood sugar levels, thus suitable for diabetics. As in all foods, do eat in moderate amounts.
Some studies have discovered significant antibacterial and antifungal properties in purple sweet potatoes.
Anthocyanin and other color-related pigments in sweet potato are equally valuable for their anti-inflammatory health benefits.
Good for your eyes – the antioxidant vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
Improve your immunity – plant foods like sweet potatoes that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.
Great for endurance athletes and ultra runners.