Do Sweet Potatoes have too much sugar?
Do Sweet Potatoes have too much sugar? With such a sweet taste they must be ‘loaded with sugar’, but is this bad for you?
As with all starchy foods, the starches convert to certain types of ‘-ose’ i.e. gluc-ose, fruct-ose, sucr-ose etc. ‘ Ose ‘ at the end of the word means that it is a sugar, and the beginning of the word tells you which type of sugar.
Sweet potatoes have a high starch content, which is converted to maltose once cooked or digested. Maltose gives it that sweet caramel-like flavour.
They are a high source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A and is essential for hormone synthesis during pregnancy. To properly utilise the Vitamin A in your body, the sweet potato must be cooked with a fat or oil – and the fat or oil must be consumed too.
100g of sweet potato contains around 283% of your RDA of Vitamin A.
The good news is that even though it’s got lots of starch it’s also packed with a selection of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
In moderation and balance with other food groups, it’s, therefore, a helpful and healthy food but should be counted as the starch part of your daily intake of food.
We need to always consider that starches convert to sugar.
In high quantities (even healthy vegetable forms like this) they may cause blood sugar instability and insulin resistance when overeaten for extended time periods.
Overeating sweet potatoes may also cause some digestive disturbance in some people – see cautions at the end of this post.
Some of the key nutrients in potato include:
Vitamin A: Is necessary for the growth and repair of many body cells including bones, teeth, collagen, and cartilage. It’s also involved in cell differentiation where cells become specific types of cells such as a liver cell or a blood cell. This is vital for the development of your healthy baby, and so Vitamin A should be sufficient in your diet in a food form. Supplementation does not offer balanced forms of Vitamin A.
Vitamin C: For fertility health, Vitamin C is important in the process of absorption and also in its ability to support the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Vitamin B2: Research shows that Riboflavin can act as an antioxidant, which helps to combat against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are known to negatively impact sperm and egg health, and so antioxidants are a vital part of the human diet.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. This nutrient is really helpful in protecting sperm and egg cells from free radical damage, which can damage the DNA of the cell and may lead to morphology issues – in sperm and eggs.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is an essential nutrient necessary for responding to injuries as it regulates normal blood clotting. By assisting the transport of calcium throughout the body Vitamin K may also be helpful for bone health. Vitamin K can be particularly useful if you suffer from heavy and/or painful periods as it can help slow down the blood flow and reduce cramping.
Phosphorus: Is an element that plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is essential in our diet and particularly in children when growth and development occurs.
Iron: Is a mineral that the body uses to carry oxygen in the blood and plays a key role in strengthening the immune system and helps regulate body temperature.
Calcium: Calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones, support heart health, and for optimal function of the muscles and nerves. It is also required alongside Vitamin D to aid in its use throughout the body.
CHINESE FERTILITY MEDICINE USES IT TO:
- Treat Qi Deficiency
- Clear Heat
- Moisten Dryness
- Increase Milk Production (breastfeeding)
- Improve Vision
Treat Qi Deficiency:
Qi (pronounced chee) is the Chinese word used to describe energy or vitality.
It’s the non-physical aspect of your body that makes all of your organs and systems work, to fulfill their role in keeping you alive and healthy. This means that it’s also vital for the function of all aspects of your fertility, and pregnancy health too.
Energy is needed for every process in your body including cell creation and division, activity, and function – think of egg and sperm cells here too. If there isn’t enough energy available then your cells, tissues, organs, and systems of your body start to function at a lower and slower level, making them less efficient at supporting the processes they should support.
Your body becomes slower and less efficient and the ability of the eggs and sperm to function properly is also affected, making them weaker and underactive. When Qi becomes more severely deficient you will likely present with hormone imbalance, typically with reduced Progesterone, Testosterone and/or FSH levels. In some cases, the FSH can rise and present itself as being elevated, due to the ovaries or testes being underactive and sluggish (tired).
Pregnancy becomes harder with lower levels of energy, and once pregnant your body will need high levels of energy to support the first 10-weeks of elevated Progesterone and growth of your baby.
Some key symptoms of Qi deficiency are: Tiredness, lethargy or fatigue, lack of motivation, poor circulation, dizziness when getting up, poor appetite, bloating, looser bowel movements, sore lower back, low levels of hormones such as Progesterone and Testosterone and FSH, short luteal phase, miscarriage (cases that are not related to genetic issues), erratic and dropping BBT chart temperatures, weight gain, slow metabolism, low blood pressure, under-active thyroid and/or adrenals.
Each person is conceived and created with a certain amount of Qi.
This amount is determined by the amount of Qi your parents had at the time of your conception. This corresponds to the scientific understanding that egg and sperm quality determines the health of the embryo, the strength of the pregnancy, and health of the baby.
Once you were conceived you used your mums Qi to further support your own Qi until you were born and able to breathe, eat and drink. From that time on you were able to support your own Qi by taking it from the outside world through food, air, and fluids. This will continue for the rest of your life, but the way you eat, sleep, live, breathe, think, act physically (exercise, rest, etc) and many other factors – will determine how strong your Qi remains.
Qi deficiency is at the cause of many people’s fertility health issues and so this is an important aspect to strengthen. The good news is that it’s possible to strengthen it through the correct balance of the 5 Fertility Foundations.
The term heat is used to describe a subjective experience of heat in the body. It also describes pathological issues (such as fevers and infections), and symptoms that have a sensation of heat or burning.
Typical heat symptoms include: thirst, dry skin, constipation, feeling hot, hot hands and soles of feet, red face, inflammation of the skin – typically red, yellow, green or black in colour, yellow, red or green phlegm, a yellow and dry tongue coating, a red tongue, blood in the urine, burning or hot symptoms anywhere in the body, fever, many types of infections, dryness – and reduced body fluids, including cervical mucus.
Heat typically has an irritating and drying effect on the body that can damage the fluid balance of your cells, tissues, organs. It may also damage the general body fluids such as saliva, urine, bowel fluids, and cervical mucus. The reduction in these fluids causes dryness and as the fluids become deficient you experience a relative increase in heat sensation around your body.
For fertility to be at it’s optimum there needs to be a balance of fluids and warmth.
Too much or too little heat or cold will cause imbalance and disturb the fluid aspect of your body. This can negatively impact any aspect of your body including the reproductive system. The eggs, womb and also sperm are supported through balanced fluid levels and sufficient, but not too much, heat.
Drinking more fluids will generally not be sufficient to clear heat (unless the cause of the heat is purely related to a lack of intake of fluids). Most cases of excessive heat do not find resolution through increasing fluid intake, but this is an important aspect to protect the body fluids from the damage caused by the heat.
Sweet potatoes can help to support the process of clearing mild cases of heat from your body. If you are experiencing more severe heat issues (fevers, infections, etc) then please seek medical attention as this food will likely not be sufficient enough to resolve your issue.
Dryness is the term I use to refer to fluid depletion or exhaustion.
It is caused by a lack of healthy fluid transformation, intake, or retention.
Dryness is created from one or several of the following:
- a digestive or respiratory imbalance of transforming fluids
- an inability to hold or retain fluids
- a lack of sufficient intake of fluids
- extreme fluid loss (blood or body fluid) through injury or illness
- overuse of the sweating mechanism through exercise, saunas, or other practice that creates regular heavy sweating
Extreme dryness or chronic dryness that lingers will often also cause a pattern of heat.
If heat also develops this will cause more complications and a faster ‘drying up’ of the body fluids.
Typical symptoms of dryness are thirst, dry mouth, dry tongue, cracks in the tongue, dry skin, cracked skin, constipation, poor egg and sperm quality.
There may also be signs of reduced body fluids including cervical mucus, menstrual blood, semen, and saliva.
In nature, we see that dry soil can’t nourish or nurture seeds and help them to grow, and the principle is the same for the body. A balance of moisture and fluid levels is important for our general and fertility health.
Sweet potato is good at restoring fluids and treating dryness.
Season available: All year round with their peak season between late October- late December
How it’s typically cooked: Sweet Potato is very versatile, you can boil, mash, roast, or add to soups. Cooked with Liver it will support eye health more strongly.
Cautions: Eating Sweet Potato daily, or in large quantities may cause an increase in indigestion, gas, bloating, heartburn and acid regurgitation.
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Andrew Loosely is The Natural Fertility Expert and author of The Ultimate Fertility Guide. One of the most sought after consultants in the Fertility community, he is famous for helping thousands of people around the world to transform their fertility health, to conceive and birth their babies. Find out more