Are Sweet Potatoes safe for diabetics?
Given their name, the idea that sweet potatoes could be a good choice in a diabetic diet may be news to many - but that's exactly what a research survey conducted by Delia Hammock, M.S., R.D. indicates. Some key observations:
• People on diabetic diets, like others, benefit from health-promoting nutrients present in sweet potatoes, including fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and a myriad of phytochemicals, many of which act as antioxidants.
• Diabetic patients are better off choosing carbohydrate-containing foods with a low or moderate glycemic index because compared to high-GI foods, they break down more slowly in the body, producing smaller fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels. Sweet potatoes eaten cooked with the skins on or raw (as in a slaw) are considered "low to medium glycemic" foods. Cooked sweet potatoes eaten without the skins fall into the medium glycemic zone, between 63 and 66, lower than some other starchy foods such as instant mashed potatoes and whole-wheat bread.
• Sweet potatoes offer an excellent balance of nutrition and affordability, as measured by a new food rating system called the Affordable Nutrition Index, introduced at a recent meeting of the American Dietetic Association.
•In an evaluation of nearly 300 foods, sweet potatoes ranked third. They are an especially appealing food choice for populations with diabetes or prediabetes, which tend to have a higher proportion of lower-income people. Carrots and baby carrots, which took the top spots, have a lower cost per serving but a lower nutrition score than sweet potatoes.
For all of us, sweet potatoes offer solid all-around benefits such as vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, copper and manganese. That's always been clear. But recent research brings surprising news on the nutrition front: These root veggies may be a good choice even for someone on a diabetic diet, playing a role in stabilizing or lowering blood sugar.