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Could Purple Sweet Potatoes Help Fight Leptin Resistance?

Sweet Potatoes

Most sweet potatoes grown and eaten in the United States have a yellow or orange flesh, but in Asia, sweet potatoes with a purple flesh are popular, not only because of their funky color but also because of their health-giving qualities. Many of the potential health benefits of purple sweet potatoes have been attributed to anthocyanins, purplish flavonoid pigments with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In this article, we are going to focus on one potential health benefit that has not received much attention yet: the ability of purple sweet potatoes to fight leptin resistance.

But before we look at the emerging research suggesting that purple sweet potatoes might offer benefits to people suffering from leptin resistance, here's a little refresher on leptin and leptin resistance:

What Exactly is Leptin Resistance?

Leptin is a complex hormone that is primarily secreted by your body's adipocytes, or fat cells. In healthy adults, an increase in food intake typically leads to increased levels of leptin, which the brain interprets as a sign that we had enough food, and that we can stop eating and storing energy as fat. In addition to controlling food intake and fat storage, leptin also has functions related to fertility and immunity.

The leptin system evolved to keep our ancestors from starving or overeating, both of which would have decreased their chances of surviving in the natural environment. Unfortunately, however, the poor eating habits associated with our modern lifestyle can disrupt the normal workings of leptin, and a condition called leptin resistance may develop. An individual who suffers from leptin resistance has high levels of leptin, but the brain mistakenly thinks that the leptin levels are low and that the individual may be starving. As a result, it signals the body to increase food intake, store energy as fat, and burn calories at a slower rate – all of which can contribute to weight gain. Aside from being associated weight gain and obesity, leptin resistance has also been associated with health problems like metabolic syndrome, psoriasis, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and problems of the reproductive system. According to experts like Byron J. Richards, a board certified clinical nutritionist and the author of Mastering Leptin: Your Guide to Permanent Weight Loss and Optimum Health, dietary and lifestyle changes that can help your brain to correctly interpret the signals leptin is sending are key to reversing leptin resistance.

Anthocyanins in Purple Sweet Potatoes Might Help Fight Leptin Resistance, Study Hints

Found in many black, blue and purple berries and vegetables, anthocyanins are considered health-promoting flavonoid pigments that have been the subject of numerous studies. In one such study, published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology in August 2015, a group of researchers from Sweet Potato Research Institute in China treated eight-week old obese rats with purple sweet potato anthocyanins. The researchers found that the rats that were treated with purple sweet potato anthocyanins lost more weight than the rats in the control group, and further investigation revealed that these anti-obesity effects were linked to the ability of the anthocyanins to mediate the effects of leptin in the brain and to reduce oxidative stress. However, before any definitive conclusions can be made about the beneficial effects of purple sweet potatoes, or anthocyanins, in the fight against leptin resistance, more studies – especially well-controlled clinical trials involving humans – are needed.

Other Foods Rich in Anthocyanins

However, even if it turns out that sweet potatoes and anthocyanins won't help reverse leptin resistance in humans, you might still be able to reap some health benefits by including anthocyanin-rich foods in your diet thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to purple sweet potatoes, anthocyanins are abundant in many purple, blue and black berries and fruits, blueberries, wild blackberries and elderberries being particularly famous for their high anthocyanin contents. However, when it comes to the very best natural sources of anthocyanins, it is hard to beat the maqui berry. According to a study published in the Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, maqui berries contain even more anthocyanins than famous anthocyanin-rich berries such as blueberries, saskatoons, elderberries and wild blackberries. Grown widely in South America, maqui berries are today available in dried, powdered form in many health food stores across North America and Europe, but you can also buy maqui berry powder on Amazon.

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Book You May Like
Leptin Resistance Diet Book In his groundbreaking book Mastering Leptin, board certified clinical nutritionist and renowned leptin expert Byron Richards cuts through confusion about the workings of leptin and its relationship to obesity, difficulty losing weight, yo-yo dieting, low energy, food cravings and hormonal imbalance. Written in an easy-to-understand language, this science-based book is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.ca.