High blood sugar can damage certain body parts, just like dirty oil can muck up a car's engine. But there might be a novel way to prevent some of that blood sugar badness: the purple sweet potato.
Dark fruits and veggies, like the purple sweet potato, are loaded with anthocyanins. And lab studies show that these potent antioxidant compounds interfere with cell-damaging processes that are triggered by a high blood sugar range.
Anthocyanins: Armor for Your Heart
Here's how it all works: Chronically high blood sugar can cause proteins to bind with sugar molecules in the body. Which is the first step in a long chain of reactions that eventually leads to compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). And AGEs have been implicated as part-culprits in a host of conditions, from diabetes to heart disease. But in a recent lab study, anthocyanin extracts from a purple sweet potato put the brakes on this glycation process, slowing it down over 50%. Which led researchers to suspect that these tubers could be beneficial in mitigating high blood sugar damage. (Include these blood-sugar-curbing edibles in your diet, too.)
So what about yellow sweet potatoes? Not nearly as powerful. They only inhibited these harmful protein glycations a mere 7%. Of course, study in humans is needed to confirm whether eating purple sweet potatoes will confer any measurable benefit to people with blood-sugar range problems. But plenty of other research suggests that anthocyanins from darkly colored foods help slow down the aging process and help protect the body from things like cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and cancer. (Here's more on the power of colorful fruits and veggies to protect against disease.)