Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious food that has a sweet, earthy flavor and several nutrients including fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. They are primarily a source of carbohydrates with virtually no fat, low sodium, and very little protein. Sweet potatoes are low in sugar and the sugar they contain is natural. Add sweet potatoes to

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious food that has a sweet, earthy flavor and several nutrients including fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. They are primarily a source of carbohydrates with virtually no fat, low sodium, and very little protein. Sweet potatoes are low in sugar and the sugar they contain is natural.

Add sweet potatoes to casseroles, and soups, or cook as a side dish. Learn more about sweet potato nutrition facts and benefits below.

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts

One large sweet potato (180g) provides 162 calories, 3.6g of protein, 37g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 162
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 71mg
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 3.9g
  • Sugars: 5.4g
  • Protein: 3.6g
  • Vitamin A: 1730mcg
  • Vitamin C: 35.3mg
  • Potassium: 855mg

Carbs

A large sweet potato has 37 grams of carbohydrates, with about 5 grams of naturally occurring sugar and about 4 grams of fiber. Sweet potatoes are not considered a high-sugar food.

The glycemic index (GI) of sweet potato varies based on the preparation method and variety. Boiled sweet potatoes may have a GI as low as 41, while the value of roasted sweet potatoes can be as high as 93.

Fats

Sweet potatoes are almost completely fat-free unless fat is added while cooking.

Protein

One large baked sweet potato provides about 3.6 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sweet potatoes are especially high in vitamin A and potassium. They also provide some calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate.

Calories

One large sweet potato (180g) provides 162 calories, 90% of which come from carbs, 9% from protein, and 1% from fat.

Summary

Sweet potato is a low-calorie, fat-free, nutrient-dense source of healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C.

Health Benefits

Sweet potatoes are a filling vegetable with colorful, health-boosting nutrients. Here are a few of the benefits of adding sweet potatoes to your diet.

May Aid Cancer Prevention and Progression

Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants that have been studied for cancer prevention and treatment. Purple sweet potatoes, in particular, are high in anthocyanins, which appear to promote apoptosis (or programmed cell death) of cancer cells.

Research has shown that sweet potatoes contain certain antioxidant phytochemicals, such as phenolic compounds, carotenoids, ascorbate, and antioxidant dietary fiber, and resistant starch which can impede the progression of some forms of cancer cells.

Protects Vision

Beta carotene, which is essential for eye health, is abundant in sweet potatoes. A cup of sweet potatoes provides 11.3 milligrams of beta carotene. Supplementation of 15 milligrams of beta carotene is proven to protect against age-related macular degeneration, especially when combined with vitamin C, zinc, and copper (alsimprovedsweet potatoes).

The anthocyanins found in sweet and pigmented potatoes have been shown to improve eyesight. Sweet potatoes with their orange flesh are higher in carotenoids than other types and lutein is one dominant compound.

Lutein is concentrated in the macula of the retina in human eyes and is associated with vision health. Scientists believe diet-induced diseases and conditions related to vision can be treated with foods like sweet potatoes that contain lutein.

Supports Cardiovascular Health

The anthocyanins in sweet potatoes are also associated with anti-inflammatory effects that reduce the risk of heart disease. Specific pro-inflammatory cytokines appear to be suppressed in response to purple sweet potato extract. Additionally, the fiber in any vegetable reduces cholesterol, while the high potassium levels of sweet potatoes keep blood pressure down.

Several studies show that consuming flavonoids from plant foods such as purple sweet potatoes can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. The tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, anthraquinones, and cardiac glycosides in sweet potatoes also minimize serum creatinine and lactate-dehydrogenase activity, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Aids Diabetes Management

The American Diabetes Association considers sweet potato a low GI food that fits nicely into a healthy eating plan for diabetes management. Sweet potatoes are an excellent way to balance the intake of higher GI foods, like pineapples or pasta. Replacing regular potatoes with sweet potatoes will boost the nutrient intake of your meal with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.

Sweet potatoes contain phenolic compounds and flavonoids that have anti-diabetic effects. Flavonoids promote glucose absorption in peripheral tissue and enhance insulin secretion, both of which help regulate blood sugar levels and manage diabetes.

Allergies

Sweet potatoes are not a common allergen, but the nature of food allergies is that they can develop at any age in response to any food. Symptoms may range from rashes, vomiting, or swelling to anaphylaxis, potentially life-threatening. If you suspect an allergy to sweet potatoes, see your doctor for an individual evaluation and diagnosis.

Adverse Effects

There are very few adverse effects associated with the consumption of sweet potatoes. One minimal side effect of eating a high volume of beta-carotene-rich veggies, like sweet potatoes, carrots, or pumpkin, is that your skin can begin to take on an orange undertone.

This coloring is the result of an uncommon condition called carotenemia. Although it may seem alarming, carotenemia is not dangerous and should subside on its own with a more balanced intake of various foods.

Varieties

There are two main varieties of sweet potatoes: dry flesh and moist flesh. Dry flesh sweet potatoes have tan-colored skin and lighter flesh that’s higher in starch. Moist-flesh sweet potatoes have darker skin with a richer orange interior. Moist-flesh sweet potatoes taste sweeter and are more commonly available in the supermarket.

Under these two general classifications, there are several unique species of sweet potatoes that vary in the country of origin, shape, color, size, and taste. Examples include Kumara sweet potatoes, Jersey sweet potatoes, and Cuban sweet potatoes.

The term “yams” is commonly used interchangeably with sweet potatoes; however, true yams come from an entirely different plant. Nonetheless, it’s not uncommon to see sweet potatoes labeled as yams in the United States.

When They’re Best

Choose fresh sweet potatoes that are heavy for their size, hard, smooth, and free of bruises. Watch out for shriveled skin, dark spots, or indentations, as these are common signs of decay. If you see a sweet potato that has sprouted, it’s still okay to eat (just cut out the sprouts). You can find sweet potatoes in most grocery stores at any time of the year.

Storage and Food Safety

Instead of storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, keep them in a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal storage temperature for fresh sweet potatoes is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which they will keep for about a month or longer. If stored at warmer temperatures, try to use sweet potatoes within a week to prevent spoilage.

When ready to use your sweet potatoes, scrub the skin with a vegetable brush under running water. Dry with a paper towel. After sweet potatoes have been cut or cooked, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for use within 5 days.

How to Prepare

Sweet potatoes can be boiled, baked, roasted, grilled, whipped, pureed, and fried. They can serve as a side dish or be tossed into salads, chili, muffins, pies, and breads. Make them spicy with chili powder or slightly sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg.

You can easily bake your sweet potatoes in the microwave to save time. The skin won’t be as crispy, but the sweet potato will be delicious nonetheless. If you are mashing or whipping your sweet potatoes, skip ingredients like heavy cream and add rosemary and Parmesan for a savory flair with less fat and calories.

You can also make sweet potato French “fries” in the oven by baking them at high heat with some herbs and spices. Have sweet potatoes with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They’re nutritious, inexpensive, and versatile ingredients.

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

You might only eat this veggie at Thanksgiving, but sweet potatoes are full of nutrients that make them worth having all year long.

The truth is they’re not potatoes. They are naturally sweet roots in the morning glory family. Although Native Americans were growing sweet potatoes when Columbus came to America in 1492, these veggies grew in Peru as early as 750 B.C.

There are hundreds of types of sweet potatoes. Some have white or cream-colored flesh. Others are yellow, red, or purple. The “Covington” is the variety you’re most likely to find at the store. It has pink skin and bright orange pulp.

While yams and sweet potatoes may look alike, a true yam is a tuber vegetable, like a regular potato.

Nutrients per Serving

One sweet potato has:

  • Calories: 112
  • Fat: 0.07 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 26 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 3.9 grams

Vitamins and Minerals

Just one sweet potato gives you 400% of the vitamin A you need each day. This helps keep your eyes healthy as well as your immune system, your body’s defense against germs. It’s also good for your reproductive system and organs like your heart and kidneys.

Sweet potatoes are rich in:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Thiamin
  • Zinc

Natural compounds called carotenoids give sweet potatoes their rich color. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, which means they have the power to protect your cells from day-to-day damage.

Health Benefits

Sweet potatoes earned the name “superfood” because of the amount of nutrients they have. Studies show they may help with:

Cancer. Carotenoids in sweet potatoes might lower your risk for cancer. Purple sweet potatoes are high in another natural compound called anthocyanin that might lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer.

Diabetes. Compounds in sweet potatoes could help control blood sugar. When boiled, sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index (GI), which means they won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly as high-GI foods.

Heart disease. Research shows that sweet potatoes can lower your LDL “bad” cholesterol, which may lower your odds of heart problems.

Macular degeneration. Large amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are in sweet potatoes, can lower your chances of getting this eye disease, which is the most common cause of vision loss.

Obesity. Purple sweet potatoes may help lower inflammation in your body and keep fat cells from growing, which may help you lose weight.

Risks and Warnings

Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates. Some methods of cooking, like baking, roasting, and frying, will raise their glycemic index and cause your blood sugar to spike. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about how to safely include this veggie in your meals.

Although very rare, some people have a severe allergy to sweet potatoes.

How to Prepare It

At the store, choose firm, not mushy, sweet potatoes that have even-colored skin. Use a stainless-steel knife to cut them. A carbon knife will darken the flesh.

While you may usually top your sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows at Thanksgiving, there are healthier ways to prepare them. You can steam, roast, boil, or microwave them. Sweet potato fries are also tasty, but don’t eat them often. Although they offer more nutrients than fries made from white potatoes, they’re still high in fat.

How to Store

If you keep your sweet potatoes in a dry area with lots of airflow, they’ll last about a week or two. Don’t put them in the refrigerator unless they’re cooked. The cold will make them hard in the middle and will change their taste.

For sweet potato recipes, check out: 

  • Apple Sweet Potato Bake 
  • Black Bean-Smothered Sweet Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potatoes: Health benefits and nutritional information

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Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many parts of the world. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.

Some people use the terms “sweet potato” and “yam” interchangeably. However, they are not related. Yams have a drier texture and a more starchy content than sweet potato.

This article looks at the nutritional value and possible health benefits of sweet potato. It also provides some tips on incorporating sweet potato into the diet, as well as some health risks.

Sweet potato may offer a variety of health benefits. Here are some of the ways in which they may benefit a person’s health:

Improving insulin sensitivity in diabetes

In one 2008 study, researchers found that an extract of white skinned sweet potato improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

Earlier, in 2000, laboratory rats consumed either white skinned sweet potato or an insulin sensitizer, called troglitazone, for 8 weeks. The levels of insulin resistance improved in those that consumed the sweet potato.

However, more studies in humans are necessary to confirm these benefits.

The fiber in sweet potatoes is also important. Studies have found that people who consume more fiber appear to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A 124 gram (g) serving of mashed sweet potato, or around half a cup, will provide about 2.5 g of fiber.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults aged 19 years and above consume 22.4 g to 33.6 g of fiber each day, depending on their age and sex.

Learn about the best foods for diabetes here.

Maintaining healthful blood pressure levels

The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to avoid eating foods that contain high amounts of added salt, and to instead consume more potassium-rich foods to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

A 124 g serving of mashed sweet potato provides 259 milligrams (mg) of potassium, or around 5% of the daily requirements for an adult. Current guidelines recommend that adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium per day.

Get more tips on foods to lower blood pressure here.

Reducing the risk of cancer

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene. This is a plant pigment that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Beta-carotene is also a provitamin. The body converts it into the active form of vitamin A.

Antioxidants may help reduce the risk of various types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.

Antioxidants such as beta-carotene can help prevent cellular damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. If levels of free radicals in the body get too high, cellular damage can occur, increasing the risk of some conditions.

Obtaining antioxidants from dietary sources may help prevent conditions such as cancer.

Can some foods help prevent cancer? Find out here.

Improving digestion and regularity

The fiber content in sweet potatoes can help prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Also, multiple studies have linked high dietary fiber intake with a reduced risk of colorectal cancers.

Why is dietary fiber important? Learn more here.

Protecting eye health

As mentioned above, sweet potatoes are a good source of provitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. After the age of 18, the Dietary Guidelines recommend an intake of 700 mg of vitamin A per day for women and 900 mg per day for men. Vitamin A is important for protecting eye health.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), a baked sweet potato in its skin will provide around 1,403 mcg of vitamin A, or 561% of a person’s daily requirement.

Vitamin A also acts as an antioxidant. Together with other antioxidants, it can help protect the body from a variety of health conditions.

Learn more here about vitamin A.

Boosting immunity

One 124 g serving of sweet potato provides 12.8 mg of vitamin C. Current guidelines recommend a daily intake of 75 mg of vitamin C for adult women and 90 mg for adult men.

A person who consumes little or no vitamin C can develop scurvy. Many of the symptoms of scurvy result from tissue problems due to impaired collagen production.

Vitamin C also supports the immune system and enhances iron absorption. A low vitamin C intake may increase a person’s risk of iron deficiency anemia.

Find out more about vitamin C and why we need it here.

Reducing inflammation

A rodent study from 2017 suggests that an extract of purple sweet potato color may help reduce the risk of inflammation and obesity.

Sweet potatoes contain choline, a nutrient that helps with muscle movement, learning, and memory. It also supports the nervous system.

A 2010 study found that taking high dose choline supplements helped manage inflammation in people with asthma. However, this does not necessarily mean that choline from sweet potatoes will have the same impact.

 

A 124 g serving of mashed sweet potato contains around 98.7 g of water.

The table below shows the nutrients in sweet potato and the recommended daily intakes for adults. Exact requirements will depend on age, sex, and activity levels (for calories).

Nutrient Amount in 124 g serving Recommended daily intakes for adults
Energy (calories) 108 1,600–3,000
Protein (g) 2 46–56
Fat (g) 3 360–1,050 g, depending on energy needs
Carbohydrate (g) 18.7, of which 6.77 g is sugar 130
Fiber (g) 2.48 22.4–33.6
Iron (mg) 0.7 8–18
Calcium (mg) 50.8 1,000–2,000
Magnesium (mg) 19.8 310–420
Phosphorus (mg) 50.8 1,000–1,200
Potassium (mg) 259 4,700
Sodium (mg) 306 2,300
Selenium (micrograms [mcg]) 0.9 55
Vitamin C (mg) 12.8 75–90
Folate (mcg) 7.44 400
Choline (mg) 14.4 425–550
Vitamin A, RAE (mcg) 823 700–900
Beta-carotene (mcg) 9,470 No data
Vitamin K (mcg) 5.1 90–120
Cholesterol (mg) 1.24 No data

Sweet potato also contains B vitamins, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Eating sweet potato skin can increase its nutritional value. The color of the skin can vary from white to yellow and purple to brown. However, whatever color it is, it will provide additional nutrients.

 

When buying and cooking sweet potatoes, it is important to check that the potato is firm with smooth, taut skin.

Also, always store them in a cool, dry place for no longer than 3–5 weeks.

Cooking tips

Roast sweet potatoes to bring out their natural flavor, and eat them without toppings. Sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet and creamy taste.

To roast them around a campfire or on a barbecue, wrap them in aluminum foil and place in the dying coals. Leave for around 50–60 minutes, until a fork slides into them easily.

People who do not plan to eat the skins can put the potato into the coals without wrapping it in foil.

To prepare a sweet potato quickly, prick it with a fork, wrap it in a paper towel, and put it in a microwave on high heat until soft.

If a person wants to add a topping, try:

  • a sprinkling of cinnamon, cumin, or curry powder
  • a spoonful of low fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
  • a drizzling of olive oil

Other ways to incorporate sweet potato into the diet include adding roasted sweet potatoes and pecans to a salad and topping it with balsamic vinegar, and adding sweet potato to pancakes or hash browns.

Sweet potato recipes

Try these simple and healthful sweet potato recipes:

  • Roasted sweet potato fries
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Heart healthy chipotle chili
  • Sweet potato hummus

 

Sweet potatoes contain potassium. A high potassium intake may not be suitable for people who take beta-blockers. Doctors commonly prescribe these for heart disease, and they can cause potassium levels to rise in the blood.

People with kidney problems should also take note of how much potassium they consume. Consuming too much can be harmful to those with kidney problems. For example, severe complications can arise if a person with impaired kidney function consumes more potassium than their kidneys can process.

Another risk to be aware of is that some fruits and vegetables are susceptible to contamination with pesticides. Every year, the Environmental Working Group rank products according to their likelihood of contamination. In 2019, sweet potatoes ranked 31st.

Buying organic products or growing them at home are the best ways to minimize the risk of contamination.

There is a selection of sweet potato and sweet potato products available for purchase online.

The Unique Type of Starch in White Sweet Potatoes Saves You From Digestive Disorders

 

Sweet potatoes are extremely versatile vegetables that can be incorporated numerous ways to fit your diet.

Classically, you are accustomed to the orange looking varieties, but did you know that White sweet potatoes also exist? These sweet potatoes can offer you a unique spin on a tried classic, bringing new flavours to the table along with nutritional offerings!

Some Brief History about White Sweet Potato

Even though sweet potatoes are available throughout the world today, its origins can be traced back to Central America 5000 years ago, and South America as far back as 8000 years. It was actually first documented during Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the Americas in 1492, following which it was introduced to Europe.

Today, it is effectively grown in Tropical and temperate regions, as long as there is adequate water supply.

The Nutrients of White Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are best known for their high Vitamin A content, along with slower digesting carbohydrates and starches, which make them favorable for regulating blood sugar [1].

Below is a more detailed nutritional profile of white sweet potatoes (per 100g serving):

  • 3.3 g dietary fiber
  • 2 g protein
  • 25% DV Manganese
  • 384% DV Vitamin A (as the provitamin so toxicity is low)
  • 33% DV Vitamin C

14% DV PotassiumWhite sweet potatoes also contain a battery of accessory nutrients, ranging from B vitamins to rarer trace minerals, such as copper. More interesting, however, is the presence of a unique type of starch, known as resistant starch (more in a bit).

The Remarkable Health Benefits of White Sweet Potato

Not only does the white sweet potato make an awesome tasting meal, but it also offers numerous benefits on health, including:

  • Blood Glucose Regulation
    Though many people associate starchy foods with increasing blood sugar, the high fiber content of white sweet potatoes slow digestion and the conversion and absorption of carbohydrates in the digestive tract.
  • Heart Health
    The heart healthy effects of white sweet potato is due to the action of B vitamins, which help to break down homocysteine, a compound that accelerates oxidative damage to blood vessels. Potassium also promotes healthy fluid balance of blood, along with regulation of heart muscle contractility.
  • Skin And Hair Health
    Exposure to UV rays from the sun promotes premature ageing to skin, and deterioration of hair. White sweet potato’s high Vitamin A content, along with decent Vitamin C, helps offset major oxidative stress resulting from sun exposure, and promote enhanced synthesis of collagen, very important in skin and connective tissue health [2].
  • Digestive Health
    Much of the insoluble fiber found in white sweet potatoes is known as resistant starch, an effective prebiotic. Prebiotics are substances that act as sustenance for the bacteria living in the gut, in this case producing butyrate in the process. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that some good bacteria living in the colon prefer, and has a beneficial effect on health [3]. Thus, a critical prerequisite of health is sufficient consumption of prebiotics, which in turn ensure your good probiotic bacteria function optimally to prevent digestive disorders [4].

Cautious: Side Effect of White Sweet Potato You Should Know About

White sweet potatoes, even though being sweet, have a much lower GI index than regular white potatoes and are paleo friendly. However, depending on method of preparation its GI index can spike, and possibly lead to increased blood sugar values. It is best to prepare by boiling, as this ensures it maintains a lower GI index.

In addition, skin and nail discoloration rarely occur, due to excessive storage of Vitamin A compounds in the body. This is uncommon, however, as the vitamin A in white sweet potatoes are pro-vitamins, and have a low risk of carrying negative effects.

The Proper Way to Cook White Sweet Potato

When selecting white sweet potatoes, be sure to look for small to medium sized ones. The skin should be even in color and overall shape, and be smooth to touch. This ensures ever cooking.

They can be prepared by boiling, baking or even frying, although boiling is superior for keeping its GI low.

Delicious Recipes of White Sweet Potato

1.Sweet Potato Salad

The Unique Type of Starch in White Sweet Potatoes Saves You From Digestive Disorders

Perfect as a side dish or can be stored in the fridge for a quick healthy meal option

Please click here for a detailed recipe of Sweet Potato Salad.

2.Sweet Potato Fries (Roasted)

The Unique Type of Starch in White Sweet Potatoes Saves You From Digestive Disorders

A healthier option that deep fried white potato fries, these make great sides to protein rich dishes.

Please click here for a detailed recipe of Sweet Potato Fries.

3.Sweet Potato Pie

The Unique Type of Starch in White Sweet Potatoes Saves You From Digestive Disorders

Delicious and healthy dessert option.

Please click here for a detailed recipe of Sweet Potato Pie.

Give Yourself a New Try!

White sweet potato is the superior option to regular white potatoes, and is advisable for everyone. It contains good resistant fiber for your digestive wellbeing, along with ample nutrition to promote your health, so why not?