Sweet potatoes are an exceptionally nutritious and versatile vegetable. They are high in vitamins A and C, a slew of Bs, fiber, and antioxidants. They are creamy and sweet, yet are good for diabetics since they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar like other sweet foods.
Their flavor and health benefits are likely the reason they are common in so many cuisines across the globe, from American fare, to African, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Thai, and many South American foods. In fact, sweet potatoes are the sixth most important crop in the world with over 105 metric tons grown each year according to the International Potato Center.
With all of those sweet potatoes being grown and processed for pies, flours, noodles, breads, liquors, and other products, the result is large amounts of wastewater which needs to be disposed of, usually in rivers and oceans. Since the wastewater contains many nutritious compounds leached out of the sweet potato during the processing, Japanese food scientists were determined to find alternate uses for the wastewater.
Scientists extracted proteins from sweet potato wastewater and tested them on mice and published their findings in the journal Heliyon. They found that mice fed large amount of the sweet potato proteins had significantly lower body weight, lower liver mass, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and higher levels of the metabolic hormones leptin and adiponectin. All of these benefits were seen in mice despite being fed a high fat diet. Scientists hypothesize that the sweet potato proteins help suppress appetite, in addition to positively affecting fat metabolism.
While the sweet potato wastewater has not been tested on humans, we already know that sweet potatoes are beneficial to people. While it may seem contradictory to encourage gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients to consume a high carbohydrate vegetable, the benefits of sweet potatoes far outweigh the grams of carbohydrates. Possible uses for sweet potato wastewater could include incorporating the wastewater into soups or broths, smoothies, or teas. Keep your eyes peeled for sweet potato water products to start hitting the markets in the future, especially with claims of aiding weight loss.
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