It’s no longer a secret that most chronic diseases are related to the food we eat and the conditions we are exposed to everyday. Cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart problems and we can’t name them all. And the search for foods with high levels of biologically active compounds to prevent these problems has only intensified. In this article I will discuss sweet potato leaves benefits for your health.
You may wonder, sweet potato leaves benefits? How does someone get benefits from sweet potato leaves? Well, you just need to eat the leaves first! Yes, I grew up knowing that sweet potatoes leaves are a vegetable. And I don’t remember if I ever ate them or not because I was too young when I saw my aunt cooking them. However, there is a large population of people who use sweet potato leaves as a vegetable or relish in several parts of Africa.
Sweet potato leaves have high levels of protein and amino acids which enhances their dietary intake. And in addition, the leaves also contain high levels of biologically active compounds. Now, when you eat this vegetable, you get both the bioactive compounds and nutrition, both of which risks associated with certain diseases. And here if how they do it.
Table of Contents
Sweet potato leaves benefits
- Antioxidant activity
- Cancer fighting and protection activities
- Protects the liver
- Fight chronic inflammation
- Help in diabetes management
How sweet potato leaves benefit your health
Sweet potato leaves benefits in prevent oxidative stress
Antioxidants are compounds that help fight oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress usually occurs when the levels of oxidative compounds in your body exceeds the capacity of your natural antioxidant defense. When that happens, only external sources of antioxidants like sweet potato leaves can help you fight oxidative stress.
Studies show that sweet potato leaves have valuable levels of antioxidant compounds. As a result, eating sweet potato leaves may help you to boost antioxidant defense. Therefore, compounds in sweet potato leaves can help protect your organs, DNA and body fats from damage. And if these are damaged, you will be at risk of oxidative stress and chronic diseases. If you are someone who loves to exercises, you probably have a lot of problems with oxidative stress. This results from the fact that more damaging free radicals are generated during exercising. However, a study in 2007, showed that purple sweet potato leaf consumption boosted antioxidant defense mechanisms. And other more recent studies say that sweet potato leaves can have higher antioxidant activity than common commercial vegetables.
Cancer fighting and protection activities
Leaves of sweet potato leaves have been shown to have potent and powerful anticancer activities against several cancer cell lines. This was attributed to their high polyphenol and anthocyanin contents of sweet potato leaves. And the leaf extracts showed activity against colon, prostate, breast, colorectal and HeLa cancer cells. This only shows the potential of the vegetable as a food that may help limit the damaging effects or prevent cancers from occurring. A 2013 study showed that daily intake of sweet potato leaf extracts helped in delaying the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells.
Sweet potato leaves benefits in liver protection
The liver protection activities of the sweet potato leaf vegetable are linked to those of your liver. Now, you must know that one of the functions of your liver is to detoxify and protect your from harmful or poisonous compounds like oxidizing radicals. So, in the body, your natural antioxidant defense that fight damaging free radicals originates from your liver. And when you have a damaged liver, this also means that you have a damaged antioxidant defense. In other words, you lose your most important tool for fighting oxidative stress.
Now, all is not lost! This is because foods that contain high levels like sweet potato leaves especially purple sweet potato leaves can help protect your liver from damage. Purple sweet potato leaves are the richest in anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins prevent the accumulation of dangerous reactive oxygen species and free radicals in your liver, thereby protecting your liver from damage. Also, the anthocyanins compliments your natural antioxidant defense. And this protects your liver cells from damaging as well as dangerous free radicals.
Fighting chronic inflammation
Sweet potato leaves also have powerful anti-inflammatory compound. It is no longer a secret that most chronic diseases start as chronic inflammation. However, inflammation is also a natural process in the body. The body uses inflammation as a response to identify and remove foreign objects, toxins or even injury. However, sometimes your body responds to harmless objects like pollen and it becomes a problem. When inflammation becomes persistent, it develops into chronic inflammation which later develops into diseases. You must deal with persistent inflammation before it does any serious damage.
Sweet potato leaves contain compounds that help inhibit compounds that help in the development of inflammation. This vegetable also helps you deal with harmful and persistent inflammation by improving the proliferation of those immune components that help reduce inflammation.
Sweet potato leaves contain high levels of beneficial phytochemicals that show potential use in diabetes management. An example is that of chlorogenic acid which helps reduce the release of glucose in the blood stream. This lowers the overall glycemic index of your diet. And this means that you reduce the amount of glucose you get from your diet. And this benefits diabetes patients as well as helps you to reduce diabetes risks. Eating sweet potatoes regularly can help you reduce the amount sugar that enters of blood stream. Some studies claim that, sweet potato leaves in your diet can help you lower your post meal blood sugar levels. Whilst we need more studies to support this sweet potato leaf benefit, what we have so far shows that sweet potato leaves in your diet are beneficial to diabetic conditions.
Sweet potato leaves contain high levels of several health promoting factors and compounds. This includes many health promoting compounds such as quercetin, polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins. And it is because of these health promoting compounds that we have sweet potato leaves health benefits. And this includes great potential against cancers, diabetes, inflammation, oxidative stress and liver damage. What do you think about sweet potato leaves?