A group of scientists claim that supercharging sweet potatoes with an electric shock could increase the level of antioxidants and polyphenols in the vegetable -- already accepted as a nutritional powerhouse.
At the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia this week, the largest scientific society in the world, a team of Japanese scientists told attendees that passing an electric current through the sweet potatoes increased the polyphenol levels by 60 percent.
Sweet potatoes in their raw form contain seven times as much antioxidants and polyphenols than other potatoes.
Their theory? That the electric shock stresses the vegetables, which in turn produce more polyphenols -- disease-fighting compounds found in plant-based foods -- as a protective measure.
Their finding could carry larger implications around the world, the scientists say, given that the vegetable is an important food staple in developing countries where 95 percent of the global sweet potato is produced, but where malnutrition is a serious problem.
"Our discovery offers a way to further increase the sweet potato role in relieving hunger and improving nutrition and health," said lead researcher said Kazunori Hironaka in a statement.
Zapping the white sweet potatoes with a jolt of electricity could be an inexpensive and simple method used on small farms or food distribution centers, the scientists propose.
Meanwhile, scientists say that steaming the vegetables is the best way to get the most nutritional value out of the sweet potatoes at home.
Other foods high in antioxidant properties include berries, dried plums, apples, apricots, artichokes, okra and curly kale.