Sweet potatoes might be the perfect thing for a Thanksgiving feast, but they’re just really perfect for you right now, based on a very old medical system that is used by millions of people in the world today.

The system is Ayurveda, and the reason sweet potatoes are just right for our health right now is because they are one of the main foods that can help ground our frenetic energies this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere – a season called Vata, which is characterized by quick movement, swift air, and sudden changes – but a great deal of creativity.

If you’re out of balance, you might feel spacey, have ridiculous dreams, not sleep through the night, or forget things everywhere. Your skin might be extraordinarily dry, brittle, or rough. If so, it’s time to take a dose of Ayurveda’s natural medicine and reach for more foods that are dense, naturally sweeter, and have a distinct earth connection, like root vegetables. It’s just one way we can use Ayurveda to bring us into greater balance, grounding our creative energies for positive change.

Ayurveda considers sweet potatoes ideal for all these things, and they’re at all the seasonal markets and easily accessible. They’re not the same as yams, which are drier and starchier – and you need fewer dry things in your body right now. According to Western medical science, sweet potatoes deliver:

  • Vitamin C to ward off colds, plus helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity (the opposite of dry skin)
  • Vitamin D, which helps offset the reduced amount of D from sunlight during Northern Hemisphere’s Fall and Winter (keeps your mood balance)
  • Magnesium, a mineral to help relax us and reduce stress (keeps us calm with so much on our plates)
  • Potassium, to help regulate heartbeat and support muscles and nerves (always good)
  • Beta Carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, which helps vision (especially on those dark Fall and Winter nights)

And, since many of us can put on extra pounds during the colder months, know that sweet potatoes actually help. They’re naturally sweet-tasting, but the sugars in them are released slowly into the bloodstream, providing a balanced source of energy and reducing the sugar spikes that are sometimes linked to weight gain and fatigue.

That’s not to say you should have four servings of sweet potato pie. Instead, think of enjoying a sweet potato as a whole, delicious snack with a little kick to spice things up. Mash a baked or roasted sweet potato with a little olive oil, salt, and cinnamon for something that will ground you and support your health at the same time.

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