6 health benefits of potatoes

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are versatile and very healthy. Fight cancer, control your diabetes and get stronger bones by eating these nutritious spuds

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Boost antioxidants

Followers of low-carb diets give regular potatoes a bad rap. They are not exactly good for you when dropped into a deep fryer, but potatoes are packed with powerful nutrients and antioxidants-compounds that fight free radicals. The ORAC value (a measure of the total antioxidants in 100 grams) for a medium baked potato with skin is a healthy 1,680, while that of a baked sweet potato with skin is 766. Compare those with the values for carrots, either cooked (317) or raw (666).

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purple sweet potato

Maintain blood pressure

Bananas are famous for their potassium-a mineral that helps control our blood pressure. But while a banana has nine percent of your daily needs, a baked regular potato has twice as much-20 percent-and a sweet one has 12 percent. But watch how you cook them: Cubing potatoes before boiling can reduce potassium by 75 percent. The best way to maintain it? Bake with the skin on.

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sweet potatoes

Inhibit cancer cell growth

A sweet potato‘s orange colour comes from beta-carotene: the darker the hue, the higher the content. Like other carotenoids, beta-carotene turns on a gene that encourages our cells to communicate. While normal cells “listen” to their neighbours, cancer cells don’t communicate, and act on their own. Studies at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii found that encouraging cells to “talk” allows normal cells to send growth-inhibiting signals to abnormal ones. Canada’s Food Guide advises at least one orange vegetable a day (a serving is ½ cup/125 mL).

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Feed your bones

Maintaining bone health requires a complex mix of nutrients, yet a Spanish study found that manganese on its own helped prevent bone loss in rats. Sweet and regular potatoes are good sources of this mineral: A baked medium sweet with skin has 32 percent of your daily needs; a baked regular with skin has 22 percent.

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baked yams sweet potatoes

Control blood sugar

Surprise! Despite their name, sweet potatoes raise your blood sugar level 30 percent less than regular potatoes. This is thanks to their high soluble fibre content. So if you’re worried about blood sugar fluctuation, go against intuition and reach for ?a sweet variety.

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farmers market potatoes

Rev up your enzymes

Both regular and sweet potatoes are good sources of Vitamin B6: One baked medium potato with skin contains 47 and 25 percent, respectively, of your daily needs. B6 is essential for more than 100 enzymic reactions that, among other roles, are critical in creating red blood cells and certain chemicals in our nervous system.

•    Why potatoes are healthy
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