OK, admit it. You're just not a big fan of sweet potatoes. It probably started with some horrible childhood Thanksgiving event. Something to do with ooey-gooey marshmallows menacing an otherwise perfectly acceptable root vegetable? Well, you're not alone. But...
New research indicates sweet potatoes may protect you from Alzheimer's. OK, that's not exactly what the results indicate. Still, you may want to rethink your sweet potato aversion.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say it's all about the beta-carotene. The results suggest long-term use of beta-carotene protects from the declines in memory and cognitive function that usually precede Alzheimer's.
The study tested both long and short-term beta-carotene supplementation. Both supplemented groups took 50mg of beta-carotene every other day, while the control group took a placebo. The short-term group consumed beta-carotene for an average of one year. The long-term group used the beta-carotene supplements for approximately 18 years. Both groups were comprised of healthy men.
The long-term users fared significantly better in cognitive function tests, especially the verbal memory component, than did the short-term users or the non-users. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, and it's thought it protects the brain from oxidative damage.
There are potential increased cancer risks to some people, primarily smokers, who supplement with beta-carotene. So, before you jump on the beta-carotene bandwagon, study the issue closely, and don't exceed the recommended dosage.
Of course, there's always the safe, effective means of getting your beta-carotene - the sweet potato. Yikes!To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about beta-carotene, including a list of foods with high levels of the antioxidant, see this from The World's Healthiest Foods.