Tags: sweet | potato | nutrient | antioxidant

Sweet Potatoes ‘Supercharged’ With Nutrients

Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 09:14 AM

Sweet potatoes are already revered by dietary experts as nutritional super heroes with far more beneficial nutrients than other vegetables. But scientists have devised a way to “supercharge” sweet potatoes’ nutritional value even more – using electrical currents to boost their levels of healthful antioxidants and polyphenols by 60 percent.
The new technique, reported at a meeting of American Chemical Society this week, involves electrifying sweet potatoes in salt water for five minutes – which researchers said increases antioxidant activity by 1.4 times and total polyphenol content by 1.6 times, compared to untreated potatoes.
Zapping the potatoes had no effect on the flavor and the technique is inexpensive and simple enough to be used on small farms or in food distribution centers.
"Many people don't realize it, but sweet potatoes are one of the world's most important food crops," said lead researcher Kazunori Hironaka, with the University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan.
"Our discovery offers a way to further increase the sweet potato role in relieving hunger and improving nutrition and health."
Researchers noted sweet potatoes have been a dietary staple since prehistoric times. They are naturally high in antioxidants, with 7 times more polyphenols – chemical compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables that may help protect people from diseases and the effects of aging – than other potatoes.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has ranked baked sweet potatoes tops in nutrition, compared to other vegetables, for their dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.
Hironaka and colleagues had previously discovered that zapping white potatoes increased polyphenol levels by 60 percent. The current apparently stresses the potatoes, prompting them to produce more polyphenols as a protective measure.
The researchers suspected that the same effect would occur with sweet potatoes, and the new study proved them right.

© HealthDay

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Scientists have devised a way to boost sweet potatoes’ already-high levels of antioxidants.
Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 09:14 AM
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