Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a popular starchy vegetable that grows underground.
To be exact; The sweet potato is a tuber, which is a type of root vegetable.
Despite the name, the sweet potato has nothing to do withnormal potatoes, and are part of a different botanical family.
The sweet potato is incredibly versatile and tastes delicious, but what does it offer nutritionally?
This article provides a complete guide to sweet potatoes, their nutritional profile, potential health benefits, and more.
Types of Sweet Potatoes
All sweet potatoes belong to the Convolvulaceae plant family, better known as "morning glory" or "morning glory".
Just as there are countless varieties of apples and mushrooms, so too are sweet potatoes.
In fact, there are over 6,500 species growing worldwide.
Below are some of the more well-known strains;
- carolina notice
- Nancy Halle
- spin grenade
- red jewel
- Puerto Rico
- White Sweet Potato
Among these sweet potatoes, the orange-fleshed Beauregard is probably the most common.
Some of the most unique varieties (to the western world) are thesefleshy okinawa purpleand the white sweet potato.
From a nutritional standpoint, each sweet potato variety offers a similar set of nutrients.
One large sweet potato (baked) provides the following nutritional profile.
The source of all nutritional data is the NCC Food and Nutrient Database.
|saturated fatty acids||0,09g|
|monounsaturated fatty acids||Chase|
|polyunsaturated fat||0,17 g|
|omega-3 fatty acids||0,01 g|
|omega-6 fatty acids||0,16 g|
As shown in the table, sweet potatoes are primarily a source of starchy carbohydrates.
They contain a moderate amount of fiber and are low in fat and protein.
|Vitamin A||1730 µg RAE||192%|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||1,59 mg||15,9%|
|Vitamin K||4,14 µg||5,2%|
Due to its nutritional values and properties, sweet potato offers several potential health benefits.
In this section, we'll look at some of these potential benefits in more detail.
1) Sweet potatoes can help improve eyesight and eye health
Sweet potatoes are an important source of vitamin A.
Per large sweet potato, they contain over 1730 mcg of vitamin A, which corresponds to retinol activity, which is nearly 200% of the recommended intake (1).
This sweet potato supply of vitamin A comes from the significant amount of carotenoids (34592 IU) it contains. While carotenoids are not the most bioavailable form of vitamin A, they can be converted to retinol (the most digestible form) in the body, and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A.
Studies also show that carotenoid compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect our eyesight. On the plus side, sweet potatoes are one of the best dietary sources of these compounds (2).
Furthermore, systematic reviews and long-term follow-up studies indicate that these carotenoid compounds may protect against age-related macular degeneration.3,4).
Macular degeneration is a degenerative eye disease that can lead to progressive deterioration of vision.
key point:Sweet potatoes are an important source of vitamin A and carotenoids, which may have vision-protective properties.
2) A good source of fiber
Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber.
As shown in the Nutrition Facts section, one large sweet potato provides 37 grams of carbohydrates, of which six grams are fiber.
When it comes to carbohydrate-containing foods, the presence of fiber is crucial as it helps improve the blood sugar response to these foods.
For example; Sugar and refined carbohydrates quickly break down into glucose. Because of this, they tend to cause stronger blood sugar spikes when we eat them (5,6).
However, carbohydrate-rich foods with intact cell walls (and fiber) are digested more slowly and therefore do not cause the same blood sugar spikes (7,8).
Fiber may also have health benefits for our gut microbiome. For example, a recent systematic review of 64 studies found that higher fiber intake leads to increased numbers of "good" gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus (9).
With that in mind, higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria are associated with a lower risk of obesity and disease (10,11).
key point:Sweet potatoes are relatively high in fiber.
3) Sweet potatoes have a comparatively low glycemic index (GI)
The glycemic index is a system designed to rank foods according to their effect on blood sugar levels.
Foods with the most significant effect would score closer to 100, while foods with the lowest possible effect would be closer to 1.
Compared to carbohydrate-based staples like wheat, rice, and regular potatoes, sweet potatoes have a much lower glycemic index.
According to the Harvard School of Health, here are the respective glycemic indexes of the above foods (12);
- Sweet potato: 63
- White rice: 73
- Whole grain bread: 74
- Potato: 78
As shown, sweet potatoes have less of an impact on blood sugar than other high-carb foods.
Cooking method affects the glycemic index of sweet potatoes
Interestingly, a recent study has shown that how we cook sweet potatoes has a significant impact on their glycemic index value.
In this study, baked sweet potato had GI scores as low as 41. In contrast, baked sweet potato GI scores came in at 93 (13).
It's also important to note that consuming dietary fat along with a carbohydrate source can help slow digestion and lower the glycemic index.
A little butter on the sweet potato can help in this regard, in addition to improving the taste (14).
key point:Sweet potatoes are lower on the GI scale than most grains and tubers.
4) Rich in potassium
Equal toother root vegetables, Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium.
A single large sweet potato provides 855 mg of potassium, which is 24% of the daily value.
Potassium is an essential mineral that has a number of crucial functions in the body.
Among these functions, potassium is particularly important for its role in regulating blood pressure (15).
On this subject, research shows that increasing dietary potassium intake reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (16,17).
In particular, low blood pressure is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.18).
key point:Sweet potatoes are a rich source of potassium that can help lower blood pressure.
5) Sweet potatoes contain resistant starch
Resistant starch wasn't discovered until the 1980s, but it is a type of carbohydrate that acts similarly to fiber.
In other words; "Resistant" starch resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As a result, we do not digest it (19).
Resistant starches can help lower the glycemic response and may help improve gut health by feeding beneficial gut bacteria (20).
Interestingly, cooking and cooling sweet potatoes increases their resistant starch content. Reheating sweet potatoes after they have cooled does not negatively affect this additional resistance force (21).
key point:Sweet potatoes contain resistant starch, a type of fibrous starch.
6) Sweet potatoes contain antioxidants and polyphenols
First, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin E. Both vitamins have antioxidant properties in the body.
As part of their functions, vitamins C and E can help reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals (22,23).
In addition to these antioxidant vitamins, sweet potatoes also provide a variety of polyphenols. Among these polyphenols, sweet potato is particularly rich in chlorogenic acid (24).
Purple Okinawan sweet potatoes also provide anthocyanins, which are found in purple-colored foods such as blueberries (25).
Polyphenols are believed to have benefits for human health, and observational studies link the compounds to a reduced risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.26,27,28).
However, the mechanisms of its action are not fully understood and currently there are insufficient human studies to conclusively demonstrate its usefulness.
key point:Sweet potato is a good source of polyphenols, which can benefit human health.
Disadvantages of Sweet Potato
In general, there are no real nutritional concerns with sweet potatoes and allergies are rare.
However, a possible problem is the oxalate content.
Oxalate is an antinutrient that (in excess) can play a role in causing kidney stones. Additionally, people with existing kidney problems sometimes follow low-oxalate diets (29,30).
According to records from the Harvard School of Health, one cup of sweet potatoes contains 28 mg of oxalate (31).
While consuming this amount of oxalate is not a problem for most healthy people, it is considered a high-oxalate food for a low-oxalate diet.
In general, low-oxalate diets contain less than 50 mg of oxalate per day.32).
key point:Sweet potatoes contain oxalate, which can cause problems in people who are prone to kidney problems.
Sweet potato is a very nutritious tuber that offers several nutritional benefits.
These tubers are delicious to eat and also offer great versatility; You can roast, roast, puree or steam them. You can even turn them into potato chips.
As long as they don't offerexclusiveBenefits Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest carbohydrate-rich foods.
You can find more information about vegetables here.Guide to over 50 of the most common vegetable options.
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Are sweet potatoes good for weight loss? ›
Is sweet potato good for weight loss? Sweet potato is loaded with dietary fiber, and vitamins like A, C, and B5 and also very low on calories which makes it great for weight loss.What are the disadvantages of eating sweet potatoes? ›
Side Effects of Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are rich in oxalate content and can result in the formation of kidney stones. Consuming sweet potatoes in excess can result in Vitamin A toxicity which is manifested in skin rashes and headaches.
With their melt-in-the-mouth, sugar flesh, and delicious taste, sweet potatoes are a healthy way to satisfy your carb-cravings. They are a moderate source of calories and are packed with fibre and other nutrients that not only help you stay healthy, but also boost weight loss.Are sweet potatoes healthier than potatoes? ›
Though they can both be part of a healthy diet, sweet potatoes are generally healthier than regular potatoes, partly because of their incredibly high vitamin A content. Sweet potatoes are also lower on the glycemic index, meaning that they are less likely than regular potatoes to make your blood sugar spike.Which is healthier rice or sweet potato? ›
Both white rice and sweet potatoes provide similar amounts of carbohydrates and calories, but while white rice tends to be processed more than its cousin, sweet potatoes contain more fiber and offer a greater amount of nutrients. The result? It's better for your health to eat sweet potatoes instead of white rice.What is the healthiest way to eat sweet potatoes? ›
Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes.Are sweet potatoes inflammatory? ›
They're a Great Anti-Inflammatory Food
Sweet potatoes contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds that help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Sweet potatoes, often inaccurately called yams, are considered a superfood, thanks to their many health benefits, says nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge. They're loaded with beta carotene, which functions as a potent antioxidant and a rich source of vitamin A.What does sweet potato do for your brain? ›
Sweet potatoes also provide vitamin B6 and vitamin C, which have powerful health benefits. Vitamin B6 bolsters brain development in children and brain function in adults. B6 also helps the body produce serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood and helps you cope with stress.Do sweet potatoes burn belly fat? ›
Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, which can help you lose weight and belly fat. The high fibre content of sweet potatoes makes you feel 'full' after your meal, helping you stick to a calorie-restricted diet. The root vegetable also contains a specific kind of fibre called resistant starch.
Are sweet potatoes high in sugar? ›
For an energy-boosting benefit with the lowest blood sugar spike, choose complex carbohydrates, or carbs that are unprocessed and have fiber, vitamins and minerals intact. Sweet potatoes are the perfect example of a carbohydrate that's high-nutrient and low in sugar, sodium and saturated fat.Which is healthier carrots or sweet potatoes? ›
It's important to note that for the same amount of calories, carrots have almost double the Vitamin A and beta-carotene, 17+ fold more alpha-carotene, and contain lutein+xeaxanthin (whereas sweet potatoes don't have any!).Is baked sweet potato healthy? ›
Baked sweet potatoes are a nutritious and healthy complex carbohydrate that you can enjoy year-round. Both sweet and savory, this top potato pick is packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Sweet potatoes can be mashed and served as a side, in casseroles, or sliced and baked for sweet potato fries.Is a sweet potato a carb or protein? ›
Sweet potatoes are mainly composed of carbs. Most of the carbs come from starch, followed by fiber. This root vegetable is also relatively low in protein but still an important protein source in many developing countries.Which is healthier banana or sweet potato? ›
In a nutrition battle between a banana and sweet potato, the sweet potato would come out ahead. A baked sweet potato has the same calories per gram as a banana, yet has one gram more fiber and five grams less sugar per medium serving.What is the best way to eat sweet potatoes? ›
- A Crispy, Healthy Snack. Try munching on sweet potato chips. ...
- Just Drizzle and Eat! ...
- Add a Twist to Your Sandwiches. ...
- Sweet Potato Pancakes! ...
- The New Potato Salad. ...
- Grill 'em! ...
- Sweet Potato Fries. ...
- Top Your Salad.
Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes actually have more vitamins and minerals to offer than pasta. Between the two, sweet potatoes are the best option. As you can see from the chart below, the amounts of vitamin A and C in sweet potatoes are excellent, and the extra fiber is a bonus.When should you not eat sweet potatoes? ›
If your sweet potato is oozing, soft and squishy, discolored, smelly, or have a bunch of sprouts, it's time to toss. If there are only a few sprouts and the sweet potato is still firm you can cut the sprouted portion off, cook and eat right away, or you can plant it!Can I eat sweet potato everyday? ›
Sweet potatoes are starches and not low-carb vegetables, with about 20 net carbs per medium potato. If you're counting carbs, you might want to choose them only occasionally and not every day. Also, don't make sweet potatoes your only vegetable choice in a day.Can diabetics eat sweet potatoes? ›
Sweet potatoes have a sterling nutritional profile, making them a great food for people with diabetes. Here's how to start incorporating them into your diet. Sweet potatoes are one of the most popular foods for diabetes at Everyday Health, and with good reason.
Who should avoid sweet potatoes? ›
People with heart disease and on beta-blockers medication should avoid consuming this vegetable. This is due to the fact that beta-blockers cause potassium levels to increase and further consumption of potassium-rich sweet potatoes may create complications.What are the worst vegetables for inflammation? ›
Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are all members of the nightshade family. These vegetables contain the chemical solanine, which some people claim aggravates arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
- Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
- Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
- Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
- Fried foods.
You do not need to peel a sweet potato prior to cooking it in the oven. The skins of sweet potatoes are safe to eat, both raw and cooked, and contain nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants.What's healthier broccoli or sweet potato? ›
Broccoli has 60% less calories than sweet potato. Broccoli has 67% less carbohydrates than sweet potato. Broccoli has more folate. Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin K and calcium.Do sweet potatoes raise cholesterol? ›
Research shows that sweet potatoes can lower your LDL "bad" cholesterol, which may lower your odds of heart problems.How many sweet potatoes should I eat a day to lose weight? ›
Though your serving might depend on what your health goals are, Alana Kessler, RD, says that a proper serving may be comparable to a clenched-fist worth of sweet potatoes. That's about three to four ounces.Is it OK to eat sweet potatoes on a low carb diet? ›
Low-carb diets that allow vegetables in moderation can include simply prepared sweet potatoes — in moderation.