Sweet Potato, Barbados Pocket Guide

Sweet Potato

In Barbados, the sweet potatoes have become a staple food-crop. Although the leaves and shoots are edible and can sometimes be eaten as greens, its large, starchy sweet tasting tuberous roots are of greater significance. These edible tuberous roots are long and tapered with a smooth skin whose colour ranges between red, purple, brown and white. Its flesh ranges from white through yellow and orange.



The warm temperature in Barbados provides a prime environment for the growth of sweet potatoes on the island as they strive best in wherever there is sufficient water to aid in their development. Despite the soil variation throughout the island of Barbados, sweet potatoes are still able to tolerate such conditions as they primary interest is sufficient drainage throughout these soils for favourable plant life. Sweet potatoes have very few natural enemies and as such are not as dependent on pesticides.


Relatively easy to plant, sweet potatoes are sown by vine cuttings as opposed to seeds. They are cultivated by stem or root cuttings or by random roots called "slips" that grow out from the tuberous roots during their storage period. The vine of the sweet potato grows quickly in a short space of time and so is able to block out any potential annoying weeds that may want to interfere with their growth.


Nutritional Value

Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins C, B2, B6 and E, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient) and proteins. Pink and yellow varieties are high in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. Deeper-colored sweet potatoes are exceptionally rich in carotenes. With regards to the mineral contents of sweet potatoes, they supply excellent amounts of manganese, folate (folic acid), copper and iron.


Diabetics may stand to benefit from sweet potatoes as studies have shown that it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance.


In Barbados, sweet potatoes are enjoyed in a variety of ways such as sweet potato pie, stewed sweet potato, in soups and even baked to name a few.


Specified Helath Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Immunity - Being very rich in beta carotene, which is a major anti oxidant, apart from vitamin-C and B-complex, iron and phosphorus present in them, sweet potatoes are excellent immunity boosters.
Inflammation - Like the common potato, sweet potato also has anti-inflammatory properties, although it does not belong to the family of common potato. This is primarily due to presence of beta-carotene, vitamin-C and magnesium. It is equally effective in curing internal and external inflammations.
Asthma - The sweet potato is effective in curing congestion of nose, bronchi and lungs, thereby giving relief in asthma. Its typical aroma helps in this.
Bronchitis - The concentration of vitamin-C, iron and other nutrients help cure bronchitis. The sweet potatoes are believed to be capable of warming up the body (may be due to the sweetness and other nutrients). This property also is beneficial in bronchitis, apart from its property to ease congestion.
Arthritis - Beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc and vitamin-B complex, among others, make sweet potato a helping hand to cure arthritis. The water in which the sweet potatoes are boiled can be applied externally on joints to ease pain in arthritis.
Digestion - The fiber content of sweet potatoes is higher than that of common potatoes. When these two factors are combined with other minerals like magnesium present in sweet potatoes, it makes an excellent facilitator for digestion. Sweet potatoes are easy to digest since they mainly contain starch. They are soothing for the stomach and intestines as well.
Cancer - Beta-carotene, the champion anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen, the pigments responsible for the color of the peel of the sweet potatoes and vitamin-C are all very beneficial for curing many types of cancer. Mainly those of the colon, intestines, prostrate, kidneys and other internal organs.
Water Balance - The fiber or roughage present in sweet potatoes helps retain water which ultimately maintains water balance in the body.
Stomach Ulcers - Sweet potato has a soothing effect on the stomach and intestines. The vitamins (B-complex and C), beta carotene, potassium and calcium are very effective in curing stomach ulcers. Moreover, the roughage in sweet potatoes prevents constipation and resultant acid formation, thereby reducing the chance of ulcers. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of sweet potatoes also reduce the pain and inflammation of the ulcers.
Diabetes - Contrary to the popular belief, sweet potatoes are beneficial for diabetics. Amazingly, they are very effective in regulating blood sugar lever by helping proper secretion and function of insulin. Of course, that does not mean that diabetics should eat them indiscriminately. The idea is that they can replace their rice or carbohydrate intake with sweet potatoes.
Weight Gain - This is easily understood. The sweet potatoes are sweet as well as contain very good amounts of complex starch, apart from healthy vitamins, minerals and some proteins. Moreover, they are very easy to digest. Thus they provide a lot of energy and are excellent bulk builders. Those suffering from inferiority complex due to their bones visibly sticking out of their skin, will welcome this news, without having any risk any side effect, which most of the synthetic bulk building dietary supplements run.
Other Benefits - They are effective in quitting addictions like smoking, drinking and taking certain narcotics. They are good for the health of arteries and veins, as they protect their walls against hardening. The high concentration of beta carotene (an alternative of vitamin-A) and phosphorus are excellent for ocular and cardiac health.

The above specified health benefits were taken from the following website:- http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-sweet-potatoes.html

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