Sweet potatoes make a delicious addition to any dinner. But these tasty tubers are good for you, too. The pigments that make sweet potatoes orange contain a significant dose of healthy anthocyanins. And anthocyanins, researchers say, could help prevent inflammation.
It all has to do with three substances: “nuclear factor-kappa” B (NFkB), “nitric oxide synthase” (iNOS), and “cyclooxgenase-2” (COX-2). NFkB is a protein that acts as a switch to turn inflammation on and off in your body. When NFkB detects threats like free radicals and infectious agents and it turns on the genes that produce inflammation. As you age, NFkB works overtime and chronic inflammation is the result. iNOS is an enzyme that produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays an important role in your nervous system and in decreasing blood pressure. Its overproduction, however, has been linked to neurological problems and stroke. As for COX-2, it’s an enzyme that makes prostaglandins that cause inflammation and pain and fever.
Now it seems that the anthocyanins found in sweet potato help to offset NFkb, iNOS and COX-2 when they become overproductive. And this, researchers say, translates into less inflammation for you.
There’s one other bit of health news worth noting about sweet potatoes. Those same color pigments that help reduce inflammation also have a positive impact on a substance called “fibrinogen.” You need fibrinogen for your blood to successfully clot. With the help of other coagulating agents, fibrinogen gets converted to fibrin, which is a key player in your body’s ability to seal wounds and stop blood loss. However, like NFkB, iNOS and COX-2, too much fibrin can cause problems. Fibrin excess can trigger unwanted inflammation in your nerve tissue and increase the breakdown of the protective wrapping around your nerve cells. Not only can the color pigments in sweet potato reduce inflammation, but they can also reduce your fibrinogen levels.
In the end, all you really need to know is that sweet potatoes are good for you. Follow this health advice and add them to your weekly meals.
To find out about another orange vegetable that’s great for your health, read the article Powerful New Source of Beta-carotene in the Works.