Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) leaves provide a dietary source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and essential fatty acids. Bioactive compounds contained in this vegetable play a role in health promotion by improving immune function, reducing oxidative stress and free radical damage, reducing cardiovascular disease risk, and suppressing cancer cell growth. Currently, sweet potato leaves are consumed primarily in the islands of the Pacific Ocean and in Asian and African countries; limited consumption occurs in the United States. This comprehensive review assesses research examining the nutritional characteristics and bioactive compounds within sweet potato leaves that contribute to health promotion and chronic disease prevention. Research has affirmed the potential cardioprotective and chemopreventive advantages of consuming sweet potato leaves, thus indicating that increased consumption of this vegetable should be advocated. Since reducing the prevalence of chronic diseases is of public health concern, promoting the consumption of sweet potato leaves warrants further and more intensive research investigation.
© 2010 International Life Sciences Institute.