Sweet potatoes are not only inexpensive and delicious, but they also contain numerous benefits for your health. Also known as yams, they have over 400% of daily recommended dosage of vitamin A. This nutritional staple is also loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamins B6 and C. They add several important components to your diet and their benefits surpass the nutritional value found in yellow-fleshed and white potatoes.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts
Sweet potatoes are packed with powerful antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It does not contain cholesterol and saturated fats that can damage your shape when eaten in large quantities. This root vegetable has high levels of flavonoid phenolic compounds, offering a good supply of beta-carotene.
30 grams of sweet potatoes can provide you your daily requirement of vitamin A. 300 grams or a large cup of this delicious tuber will give you your daily requirement of manganese, vitamin C, and other essential minerals. It also contains great amounts of vitamins B6, E, K, and Niacin, Riboflavin, Folate and Thiamin. Sweet potato is also a great source of iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potato
These are the impressive benefits of sweet potatoes for your health.
1. Strengthens Immune System
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene or vitamin A, which is an important antioxidant. They are also loaded with phosphorus, B-complex and vitamin C. It also contains iron that plays important roles in the body, such as proper immune functioning, production of white blood cell, metabolizing protein and resistance to stress (1).
Daily consumption of sweet potatoes can give your immune system a boost, allowing your body to fight effectively against bad bacteria, virus, and a wide variety of diseases.
2. Aids Digestion
Being rich in fiber, manganese, vitamins B6 and C and complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes can help in improving the body’s digestion process. They are also easy to digest due to their starch content and can soothe the digestive tract. Eating sweet potatoes can prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthier digestion. Also, consuming fiber rich food can reduce your appetite as it can make you feel satiated for a long period of time.
Eating sweet potatoes without peeling the skin can provide you incredible benefits to your digestive system. It can prevent constipation and treat digestive conditions like inflammatory bowel problems.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Sweet potatoes contain anti-inflammatory and antilipogenic properties. The choline in sweet potatoes helps with muscle movement, sleep and cognitive function. Choline also assists in maintaining cellular membranes structure, reducing chronic inflammation, absorbing fats and in the transmission of nerve impulses (2).
Magnesium, zinc, beta-carotene and vitamin-B complex in sweet potatoes make it a great food source for alleviating the pain caused by arthritis. The water used for boiling sweet potatoes can also be applied on the affected areas to reduce joint pain.
4. Lowers Risk of Cancer
The high levels of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes are beneficial in preventing various types of diseases, including cancer. Beta-carotene is a powerful anticarcinogenic and antioxidant that can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer, colon cancer, and those of kidneys and intestines. Daily consumption of this staple allows you to acquire these impressive benefits of sweet potato.
5. Relieves Bronchitis
Sweet potatoes can also help in treating bronchitis. It contains high concentrations of vitamin C, iron and other important nutrients that provide warmth to the body. Elevating the body temperature has a positive effect on congestion. If you are suffering from bronchitis, consuming sweet potatoes may assist in relieving symptoms. It also provides relief from asthma, nasal and lung infections.
6. Regulates High Blood Pressure
Sweet potatoes are also beneficial when it comes to maintaining levels of blood pressure. In order to maintain blood pressure, it is important to increase potassium consumption and have a low-sodium diet. A medium-sized sweet potato has 542mg of potassium, making this food ideal for people suffering from hypertension (3).
7. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
One of the amazing benefits of sweet potato is its ability to stabilize blood sugar. Contrary to common belief, sweet potatoes help in regulating levels of blood sugar by assisting in proper insulin secretion and function. Because they rank low on the glycemic index scale, studies suggest that sweet potatoes may help in managing episodes of low blood sugar (4).
Diabetic patients following a high-fiber diet have better levels of insulin, sugar, and lipid levels. A medium-sized potato contains around 6 grams of fiber, making it a better alternative to rice or carbohydrate intake. All these great qualities make this healthy vegetable a nutritious addition to the diet of a person with diabetes.
Sweet potatoes contain high levels of vitamin B6. This vitamin is vital in breaking down homocysteine, a substance that contributes to hardening of blood vessels and arteries. Vitamin B6 keeps the walls of blood passageways healthy and flexible for proper circulation. Consuming sweet potatoes can help in regulating not only the natural rhythm of the heart but also the function of nervous system.
9. Improves Eyesight
Lack of vitamin A leads to decline of the photoreceptors of the eyes that negatively affect normal vision. To prevent vision problems, it is important to eat foods rich in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes contain high levels of vitamin A and can help in improving your eyesight. Vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes can also help in maintaining healthy vision.
10. Helps with Stomach Ulcers
People who are suffering from stomach ulcers can benefit from consuming sweet potatoes. This occurs due to the soothing effects of sweet potatoes on the stomach and intestines. They contain vitamin C, potassium, calcium and beta carotene that can help in alleviating the pain caused by ulcers (5).
In addition, sweet potatoes are also a good source of roughage or fiber. This prevents the formation of acid and reduces the risk and inflammation of stomach ulcers.
11. Protect Against the Signs of Aging
Skin reflects the overall health and age of the body. This root vegetable is publicized as an incredible anti-aging foot that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Consuming this can help in maintaining the skin soft, elastic, and radiant. It contains high levels of proteins, which has antioxidant and anti-aging effects. These proteins combat free radicals and prevent the damage to skin and DNA cells.
Storage proteins, vitamin C, and beta carotenes have positive impacts on your skin. Sweet potatoes contain these essential nutrients. Together, they improve the antioxidant levels of the body. Thus, it prevents numerous illnesses and slows down the aging process.
12. Retains Water in Body
Sweet potatoes help in retaining water in the body due to the presence of fiber that forms gel with water. It keeps the body hydrated and maintains water balance. This vegetable is considered a fasting food in India as it prevents dehydration while providing essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
13. Excellent Pregnancy Foods
Pregnant women can also benefit from sweet potatoes. This root vegetable is one of the top pregnancy foods due to high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and folate. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should consume 700 micrograms of vitamin A daily (6).
Vitamin C is also important to the absorption of iron. It is vital to both mother and baby’s health. It is recommended to consume 27 milligrams of iron and 80 to 85 milligrams of vitamin C daily during pregnancy.
Favorite Sweet Potato Recipes
Do not buy sweet potatoes with soft skin, wrinkles, soft spots or cracks. Here are some of the favorite recipes that allow you to acquire health benefits of sweet potato.
1. Sweet Potato Fries
A nutritious and delicious alternative to standard, this recipe is rich in antioxidant and has lower glycemic index than normal potatoes. You can make them sweet, spicy or savory and eat them with dip sauce.
2. Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Ginger
You can also try this warm and Asian-inspired sweet potato soup with coconut milk and ginger. You can also swap out sour cream for plain yogurt to make this delicious meal vegan.
3. Sweet Potato Cheesecake
One way to acquire all benefits of sweet potato is by making a cheesecake with ginger pecan crust. The health benefits of sweet potato and ginger can eliminate the caloric part of cheesecake.
4. Spicy Sweet Potato Puree
Skip the buttery mashed potatoes and candied yams for nutritious, lighter and tastier sweet potato puree. You can also add chipotle powder to make it spicy and mouth savoring.
5. Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chowder
This dish can be made in less than 35 minutes. Sweet potatoes contrast with sharp cilantro and salty feta. You can add more vegetables to make your meal healthier.
Potential Risks of Consuming Sweet Potatoes
People who are taking beta-blockers should consume high potassium foods in moderation. Beta-blocker is a type of medication prescribed for cardiovascular ailments and causes the levels of potassium to rise. Eating too much potassium can also be harmful for people who have kidney diseases. If kidneys are not able to eliminate excess potassium from the blood, it can be dangerous.
1. Megan Ware RDN LD. Plant foods like sweet potatoes that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients. Sweet Potatoes: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information. Viewed at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/281438.php
2. Marcelia Sugata, Chien-Yih Lin, and Yang-Chia Shih. Anti-Inflammatory and Anticancer Activities of Taiwanese Purple-fleshed Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea batatas L. Lam) Extracts. Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609785/
3. Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH – How Do I Make the DASH? Viewed at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/hbp-dash-how-to
4. J.W. McClelland, J.C. Allen, S. Zakir. Bio-Medicinal Effect of Sweet Potato in People with Diabetes. Viewed at: http://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(07)01193-5/abstract
5. The present experimental findings suggest that tubers of Ipomoea batatas may be useful for treating peptic ulcers. Anti-ulcer activity of Ipomoea batatas tubers (sweet potato). Viewed at: http://www.functionalfoodscenter.net/files/50426782.pdf
6. Shemiah Williams. “According to the American Pregnancy Association, if you are pregnant, you should consume 700 micrograms of vitamin A per day.” Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Pregnant Women? Viewed at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/441132-are-sweet-potatoes-good-for-pregnant-women/
Emily has spent the last 8 years comparing, reviewing and analyzing ingredients in the supplements industry. She has worked extensively with dieticians, nutritionists and personal trainers to separate fact from fiction and help people achieve their fitness goals. In her free time she works and enjoys the outdoors with her husband and 2 children.