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By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD (Proactive Health Labs)   



Sweet potatoes, not to be confused with yams, have been cultivated for thousands of years. These root vegetables are believed to have originated in Central and South America. North Carolina, which is now the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, claims the sweet potato as their state vegetable.

There are more than 400 varieties of sweet potatoes around the world! You are probably most familiar with the delicious, orange-fleshed sweet potato, but there is also a beautiful purple sweet potato that is worth trying.

Don’t limit eating sweet potatoes to Thanksgiving season. They are available all year and pack a lot of health benefits.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), “[b]ioactive compounds contained in this vegetable play a role in health promotion by improving immune function, reducing oxidative stress and free radical damage, reducing cardiovascular disease risk, and suppressing cancer cell growth.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of this vegetable.

Sweet Potatoes May Help Fight Inflammation.

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation by diminishing free radical damage. If we can reduce our amount of free radical damage, we may also be able to lower our risk of life-threatening diseases, like cancer. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have more than 400 percent of your daily vitamin A needs!

Make sure to eat them with a little bit of good fat, like olive oil. The fat helps your body better absorb the vitamin A.

Sweet Potatoes May Help Protect You From Dangerous Heavy Metals.

Purple sweet potatoes may be able to lower the potential health risks posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. They are rich in compounds called anthocyanins, which provide a lot of antioxidant activity and may bind to heavy metals, like mercury, and help remove them from the body.

Sweet Potatoes May Help with Liver Damage from Excessive Alcohol Consumption.

Anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes are also associated with improving liver damage from alcohol abuse, according to a study with mice conducted by the NIH.

Sweet Potatoes May Help Regulate Your Blood Sugar.

Sweet potatoes contain adiponectin, a protein made by fat cells that circulates in the bloodstream. Low levels of this protein have been found in people who have trouble metabolizing insulin.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined 14,598 people and found that “[h]igher adiponectin levels were monotonically associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.” Furthermore, “[t]his inverse association was consistently observed in whites, East Asians, Asian Indians, African Americans, and Native Americans and did not differ by adiponectin assay, method of diabetes ascertainment, duration of follow-up, or proportion of women.”

Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber. Fiber helps pace digestion, which is good for regulating blood sugar levels.

Let’s take a look at other essential nutrients in just one cup of orange sweet potatoes:

Calcium, 40 mg. Of course, calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. This mineral is also important for maintaining hair and nail health in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Adequate calcium intake may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.

Magnesium, 33 mg. Magnesium helps with blood pressure regulation and also has antioxidant properties. Several studies have also shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime.

Phosphorus, 63 mg. This mineral works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.

Potassium, 448 mg. This mineral works with sodium to balance the fluid and electrolytes in the body. Potassium also helps keep blood pressure under control and may help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age. It may even reduce your risk of stroke. Most adults need about 4,700 mg of potassium per day. So, sweet potatoes are a great place to start.

Sodium, 73 mg. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor has probably told you to cut back on salty foods. Reducing your sodium intake can help lower high blood pressure. What your doctor may not have told you is that a good balance of sodium and potassium can also help to reduce blood pressure. Studies show that the sodium/potassium ratio intake should be less than 1. Unfortunately, only 12 percent of the U.S. population has this adequate ratio. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum daily intake of 1,500 mg of sodium, but in reality 99.8 percent of the population consumes much more. Avoid processed foods, which tend to have alarming amounts of sodium per serving. Sweet potatoes are a great source of natural sodium.

Folate, 15 mcg. Folate (also called vitamin B9) is a very important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folate may help prevent cancer and heart disease and improve mental health. 

Choline, 16.4 mg. Choline is a nutrient that was recognized as an essential nutrient by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1998. “The importance of choline in the diet extends into adulthood and old age. In a study of healthy adult subjects deprived of dietary choline, 77% of the men and 80% of the postmenopausal women developed signs of subclinical organ dysfunction (fatty liver or muscle damage),” reports the NIH.

Oven-baked sweet potato fries make a great, healthy snack or side to go along with your dinner. If you are looking to be a bit more innovative with these root vegetables, check out this recipe for sweet potato brownies. They are just as delicious as a traditional brownie, maybe even more!

Learning about healthy food is so empowering. Feel free to share with us some of your favorite healthy recipes. Are there any fruits or veggies you would like to know more about? Let’s explore together.

Healthy food is medicine.

Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

Joy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (www.phlabs.org), a national non-profit health information company that provides education and tools needed to achieve optimal health. Her most recent book is Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores.

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I am a huge juice lover. I like to drink it at any time of the day. However, I find that many juice blends just have a bit more sugar and other things that I don’t want in my juice beverages. Since I am a diabetic, I really have to pay very close attention to the things I take into my body (Living a healthy diabetic life takes a lot of dedication to self). So my hunt for juices that were 100% started.

Two brands that I found to be 100% fruit juice were Beetology and Ripe Craft Juice. They are both phenomenal! They are truly juice, nothing more, nothing less. I love that they are both cold pressed juices. What is cold pressed juice you ask? Well, it’s actually a process in which the juice is extracted. Cold pressed juice is produced by using what is known as a ‘masticating juicer’. This juicer uses a hydraulic press that squeezes the juice from the fruit or vegetable. The masticating juicer crush the ingredients in order to extract the greatest quantity of juice possible without compromising the nutrient quality, because it will not generate as much heat to significantly affect the juice like traditional juicing methods can. Once the juice is made, it’s bottled, sealed, and placed in a chamber that fills with water. Pathogens are destroyed by imposing a great amount of pressure. This allows cold pressed juices to remain not only drinkable but nutritious and flavourful for up to a few weeks.

Beetology 


Beets can be very beneficial to our overall health. These burgundy gems help boost your energy, aid in weight loss, supports cleansing and detoxing, plus they have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re even known to improve blood flow and help lower blood pressure. Beetology™ has delivered on a very flavorful juice that allows us to smile at the sound of beets. Just from the the word beet, I was expecting a juice that would have me gagging. I know I’m not the only person that has this reaction. However, I was pleasantly surprised and so were my taste buds! I enjoyed just about every juice flavor from their line. Beetology™ is dedicated to the art of creating delicious beverages and foods from one of nature’s most nutrient dense vegetables and the finest organically grown fruits. Their beverages contain no more than five ingredients. All five of their offerings are 100% non-GMO, U.S.D.A. Certified Organic, and Certified Fair Trade. The juice blends contain no preservatives, additives, artificial colors, or flavors. They are also non-soy, non-dairy, and certified kosher, making them perfect for anyone, any time. They are very refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness to them. The beet juice married very well with the fruit juice choices the brand uses in their products. Beetology has turned my frown into a smile with it’s delicious beet blend juice. I’m now a loyal customer!

Ripe Craft Juice 


New Haven, Connecticut based brand, RIPE Craft Juices was created to redefine the consumer’s expectations of real fresh juice. So their process was simple, to start with the best fruits and vegetables, use the absolute minimum in processing, and offer a juice that surpasses all others in freshness, taste, and nutrition. These juices a very fresh tasting. I enjoyed all four juices. They are not very sweet, there is a bit of bitterness that hits your taste buds. But, it’s not overpowering to where you can’t enjoy and appreciate the natural freshness from this juice brand. These juices are also Gluten Free, non GMO, never from concentrate, using fruit and vegetables that are 100% traceable.
Want to get your hands on these juices? 

You can find RIPE Craft Juices and Craft Bar Juices available at:

King Kullen – Long Island, New York (Bar and Craft juice)

Kings Food Markets – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (Bar and Craft juice)

Key Foods – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania (Bar and Craft juice)

Fairway – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (Bar and Craft juice)

Big Y – Connecticut and Massachusetts (Craft juice)

Roche Brothers – Massachusetts (Bar and Craft juice)

Dierbergs – Missouri (Bar and Craft juice) 

Schnucks – Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa (Bar and Craft juice)

*Juices are also available on Amazon.com

Beetology ($3.99) available at:

Grocery stores near you in the refrigerated section. If you’re in the Indianapolis area, you can find it at Good Earth (6350 Guilford Rd.).

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