Sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for normal body functioning. One of the most important benefits of magnesium is that it helps reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that an increase in magnesium deficiency in modern diets has resulted in a significant increase in the cases of depression reported across the world. For instance, some controlled studies have indicated that magnesium deficiency increases depression in women experiencing premenstrual symptoms.
Magnesium deficiency and depression are linked because they both feature cell-mediated immune responses and bodywide inflammation. Studies done on animal models have shown that an increase in magnesium intake protects the brain from anxiety and/or depression after a traumatic injury. Furthermore, studies on animal models have shown that a decrease in magnesium will result in an increase in anxiety-related behaviors as well as depression in mice.
In addition, magnesium has been found to reduce insomnia in older individuals. Insomnia is a trigger for stress, depression, and anxiety, which is unfortunate as more than 50% of elderly people suffer from some form of lack of sleep.
Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes are an important source of magnesium, whose deficiency has been reported to be linked with a higher risk of depression, stress and anxiety. Thus, sweet potatoes can replenish the body’s magnesium levels and help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety-related behaviors in individuals.