They are easily available. They are inexpensive. And they are delicious. Whether it is in casseroles or pies or even fries, sweet potatoes are a common addition to our diet. But they are often confused with regular potatoes (we will address that, by the way), which they are not. And their array of benefits has something to do with that. Just keep reading!
Table Of Contents
- What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Sweet Potatoes?
- What Are The Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes?
- Any Sweet Potato Recipes To Try?
- Sweet Potatoes Vs. White Potatoes Vs. Yams
- What Are The Side Effects Of Sweet Potatoes?
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Sweet Potatoes?
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.05 g||<0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||3 g||8%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.80 mg||16%|
|Vitamin A||14187 IU||473%|
|Vitamin C||2.4 mg||4%|
|Vitamin E||0.26 mg||2%|
|Vitamin K||1.8 µg||1.5%|
No doubt, they are nutritious. Which is what makes the benefits they offer so important to know.
What Are The Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes?
1. Sweet Potatoes Fight Cancer
Studies have shown the anticancer effects of sweet potatoes – especially while dealing with cancers of the liver, lungs, kidneys, gallbladder, and the breast. The veggies are also rich in antioxidants, and this is another reason they can prevent cancer (by fighting free radical damage). In fact, one Nigerian study also notes that the peels of sweet potatoes have compounds that can be used for cancer prevention (1).
The anthocyanins in sweet potatoes can also prevent colorectal cancer. These compounds are present in the root of the vegetable and can prevent grave ailments – cancer being one of them (2). And there are certain other proteins in these veggies, which have also shown anticancer activity (3).
2. Can Aid Diabetes Treatment
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, and this can work wonders in treating diabetes. What’s better – boiled sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index and won’t spike your blood sugar levels as much as regular potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in beta-carotene, which promotes eye health – and can hence prevent cases of diabetic retinopathy.
However, some sources state the need for more evidence (4). Which is why we recommend you speak to your doctor before using sweet potatoes for treating your diabetes symptoms.
3. Can Boost Heart Health
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6, which helps break down homocysteine – a substance that can harden the arteries and blood vessels, leading to heart attacks (5).
And then, there is fiber, which can lower bad cholesterol levels and keep the heart healthy.
4. Aid Weight Loss
The fiber is what we need to see here, again. The high amount of dietary fiber in sweet potatoes makes you feel full for longer periods. And this means you won’t be eating as frequently as you used to. Also, fiber is digested slowly – and this prevents overeating as well.
Also, sweet potatoes are low in calories. This means replacing regular potatoes with sweet potatoes can help you cut calories in your diet.
And then, we must talk about the water content in sweet potatoes. Just like fiber, even water takes up space in your stomach and makes you feel full for long periods.
5. Improve Digestive Health
It’s the fiber, again. It is higher than in the regular potatoes, and it promotes regularity and improves the overall digestive health. Sweet potatoes primarily contain starch, which is why they are easy to digest. They even soothe the stomach and the intestine.
The cancer-fighting compounds in sweet potatoes also reduce the dangers of heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. This can be a boon to people with digestive issues like ulcerative colitis and IBS.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in phytosterols, which were found to have positive effects on the digestive system. They also play a role in preventing duodenal and gastric ulcers.
6. Improve Respiratory Health
These sweet veggies can clear congestion and hence help treat asthma and bronchitis. And then, we have beta-carotene in sweet potatoes – research suggests that this nutrient, which is later converted into vitamin A in the body, can reduce the severity of exercise-induced asthma (6).
Sweet potatoes are also known to influence body temperature, thereby clearing congestion and treating conditions like bronchitis. And they also contain vitamin C and iron, essential nutrients that boost immunity and keep respiratory ailments at bay.
7. Enhance Immunity
The beta-carotene and vitamin C in sweet potatoes offer immune-boosting benefits. These two nutrients work even better when taken together, which is what happens when you serve yourself a helping of sweet potato.
8. Improve Brain Function
Thanks to the abundance of antioxidants, taking sweet potatoes on a regular basis has shown to boost brain function. One Korean study even found that taking sweet potatoes can prevent oxidative damage in the brain, which can otherwise lead to serious ailments like Alzheimer’s (7).
And then, there is another study that tells us how a purple sweet potato extract had improved spatial learning and memory in mice – which carries similar prospects in humans as well (8).
Also, the starch in sweet potatoes is a perfect energy source for the brain. They also contain B vitamins, another set of essential nutrients for brain health. These vitamins can also lower stress levels.
9. Boost Bone Health
Sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium and potassium, which, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, can boost bone health (9). And the vitamin A in the vegetable also promotes bone health.
However, excessive vitamin A has been linked to bone loss (10). So, please consult your doctor before taking sweet potatoes for your bone health.
10. Promote Vision
Sweet potatoes are great sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects your eyes from free radical damage (11).
These tuber vegetables are also rich in vitamins A and C (we already saw that). These nutrients are particularly beneficial for vision, and they help prevent serious eye ailments like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts (12).
11. Promote Skin Health
Vitamin A is crucial for skin health, and sweet potatoes have it in abundance. Deficiency of vitamin A can often lead to dull and dry skin. The vegetable contains other antioxidants that fight free radical damage, which can lead to early signs of aging.
Even research supports the fact that veggies rich in carotenoids, like sweet potatoes, give the skin a natural glow (13). And then, there is vitamin C, another potent antioxidant. This nutrient stimulates collagen production and firms the skin, thereby delaying the onset of fine lines and wrinkles.
12. Can Boost Hair Growth
The vitamin A from sweet potatoes builds cells and tissues, hence boosting the health of the scalp and hair. They also contain vitamin C and iron, other important nutrients for hair health.
You can use a sweet potato hair mask for better hair health. Simply peel and boil a sweet potato. Mix a tablespoon each of honey, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Mash the sweet potato and blend it with the mixture. Apply this mixture to your damp and clean hair from root to tip. Leave it on for about 15 minutes, post which you can wash with warm water.
These are the different ways sweet potatoes can make your life healthier. But how do you think you can include them in your diet? Any interesting recipes?
Any Sweet Potato Recipes To Try?
There are a couple of them you might want to try. They are quick and easy, and highly nutritious.
1. Baked Sweet Potatoes
What You Need
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 pinches of dried oregano
- 2 pinches each of salt and ground black pepper
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 350o F. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with the olive oil.
- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into medium pieces, and place them on the baking dish. Turn them accordingly such that they are totally coated with olive oil.
- Sprinkle oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Bake in the oven for about 60 minutes or until they are soft.
2. Sweet Potato And Cauliflower Salad
What You Need
- 1 small cauliflower head cut into florets
- 7 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 ½ pounds of sweet potatoes cut lengthwise into ½ wedges
- Ground black pepper
- 3 teaspoons of sherry vinegar
- 8 cups of torn lettuce
- 2/3 cups of pomegranate seeds
- Toss the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, half of the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast at 425o F. Keep tossing for about 20 to 30 minutes until the sweet potatoes turn golden. Allow to cool.
- Add the remaining olive oil and sherry vinegar and salt and pepper. And add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.
- Serve right away.
Quite simple, aren’t they? And yes, there is one more topic we would like to discuss.
Sweet Potatoes Vs. White Potatoes Vs. Yams
There is some confusion regarding this in the world outside.
A medium-sized sweet potato has about 102 calories. It contains 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber and has no cholesterol or fat. It is rich in beta-carotene and also contains vitamin C, though in a small amount. It is also loaded with vitamin B6 and potassium. Sweet potatoes have tapered ends with smoother skin.
A white potato of the same size contains about 120 calories. It has 28 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams each of protein and fiber. It is free of fat and cholesterol as well. It is also loaded with vitamins B6 and C, folate, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. White potatoes have a slightly flattened appearance and medium russet skin and are white-fleshed.
One yam contains about 118 calories, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of protein. It is also rich in vitamins B6 and C, potassium, and manganese – though it is not as nutrient dense as a sweet potato. Yams are cylindrical and have rough skin. They are typically white-fleshed.
Moreover, the three belong to different plant families and are not the same.
All great. But just like any other veggie, sweet potatoes do come with a set of warnings.
What Are The Side Effects Of Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes might cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. These include itchiness, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. Stop intake if you notice any symptoms.
- Kidney Stones
Sweet potatoes are high in oxalates and can hence lead to kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones or are at risk, please avoid them.
Though they can lower blood sugar levels, consuming them in excess can lead to blood sugar spikes. In fact, there is mixed research on this. Please consult your doctor before taking sweet potatoes if you have diabetes complications.
They sure are delicious. And they are also easily available and inexpensive. Which is why we often miss their importance. Have them peeled or with their skins (though we recommend consuming them with their skins), and you will only be doing yourself a lot good. Include them in your diet today.
And tell us how this post has helped you. Simply leave a comment in the box below.
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- “Cancer-preventive properties of an...”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Anticancer effects of sweet potato…”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Sweet potato for type 2 diabetes mellitus”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Three of the B vitamins...”. Harvard School of Public Health.
- “Dietary factors and the development of asthma”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Antioxidant and memory enhancing effects…”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Purple sweet potato color…”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Food and your bones”. National Osteoporosis Foundation.
- “Vitamin A and bone health”. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
- “Foods to improve eyesight”. Fox News.
- “Nutrients for the aging eye”. US National Library of Medicine.
- “Discovering the link between nutrition and…”. US National Library of Medicine.
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