More than sweet potato, its leaves are super source of vitamins: Researchers

sweet potatoSweet Potato, a must and highly visible during Makara Sankranti festival is abundant in essential vitamins, especially B6 which is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the proper maintenance of red blood cell metabolism and many other bodily functions, said researchers.

Wilmer Barrera and David Picha from Louisiana State University studied several sweet potato tissue types – mature leaves, young leaves, young petioles, buds, vine sections and root tissue and found that vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin B2 contents were higher in leaf tissue than in other tissue types.

“Our results indicate that mature and young leaves of sweet potato could provide significant amounts of vitamin B6 to the human diet,” the researchers said.

The vitamin B6 content in sweet potato leaves compares well with fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, avocados, carrots, bananas and cauliflower, they noted. The study has been published in the journal HortScience.

A dicotyledonous plant, sweet potato, belongs to the family Convolvulaceae with large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens.

Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine linked with degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.

In addition, sweet potatoes contain iron and magnesium. The sweet potato’s sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.

Recent studies at Harvard University of more than 124,000 people showed a 32% reduction in risk of lung cancer in people who consumed a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet. Another study of women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer at Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest blood concentrations of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence.

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