Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts and Benefits

sweet potato benefitsWhile I typically don’t recommend going overboard on starchy carbs, when it comes to eating a healthy diet, sweet potatoes can be an asset to your health.

Ranking much lower on the glycemic index then regular potatoes and containing a higher density of nutrients, sweet potatoes have an impressive nutritional profile.

Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6 which supports energy.

Also, sweet potatoes are an excellent gluten-free option for those who are looking to replace carbohydrates in their diet.

Sweet Potato Health Benefits

According to several medical studies and case studies, the benefits of sweet potatoes include:

  • Weight loss support
  • Healthy skin
  • Anti-cancer
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Prostate health

Just to name of few.  If you want to learn more about sweet potato benefits and how to make perfect sweet potato recipes then let’s continue!

What Are Sweet Potatoes Good For?

By far, one of the most beneficial nutritional aspects of sweet potatoes is that they are an unusually high resource of vitamin A. In fact, no other food on the planet contains more vitamin A than sweet potatoes

This is one reason why they have been used as a valuable healing plant in South American folk medicine for over 5,000 years. Today, studies suggest that it can be useful to treat cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory-based conditions like heart disease. It is also considered a valuable raw material to be used in the development of medicines and industrial products!

One common theme in both types of uses is that the entire plant should be utilized, not just the tasty storage root part that we’re used to eating.

For example, the journal Carcinogenesis published a study in 2013 evaluating how polyphenol-rich sweet potato greens affect prostate cancer.

After using chromatographic techniques to create a remarkably active polyphenol-enriched compound – about 100 times more potent than unaltered sweet potatoes – researchers discovered that daily oral administration of 400 mg/kg body weight stopped growth and progression of prostate cancer cells in mice up to 75%!

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture’s Key Laboratory of Agro-products Processing also recently conducted testing to see how far-reaching sweet potato roots can be in treating cancer.

After administering sweet potato root protein in mice xenografted with human colorectal cancer cells, they observed that the tumors shrank up to 57% in overall growth and 25% in weight after just nine days of treatment!

Also, being a rich source of water-soluble flavonoids that are responsible for their various colors, research also suggests that isolated purple sweet potatoes anthocyanins can improve cognitive function and can effectively stop degeneration of the brain.

Simply put, purple sweet potatoes have been shown to stop fat cell degeneration, which suggests that they can help reverse various types of brain dysfunction!

Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

Before I get into the nitty gritty, there are two interesting facts I want to share about sweet potatoes:

  1. Most Americans are very much in the dark about their unbelievable health benefits.
  2. Sweet potatoes are lower in calories and higher in antioxidants, but yams do contain higher levels of potassium.

A true yam is a Caribbean native that has the same white flesh color as a regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are from South America and are typically orange-colored flesh, but they can also be white or purple. And don’t mistake it, even those red-skinned root vegetables out there in our grocery stores aren’t yams; they’re sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts

Telling you this will help you more than just winning your next round of Trivial Pursuit. The fact is, most grocery stores mislabel sweet potatoes for yams and, depending on what you’re trying to achieve by eating them, this could be a BIG difference! Here’s why:

sweet potatoes vs yams

sweet potato vs yam nutrition chart

You see the differences?

If you’re trying to boost your vitamin A intake, you’d stay away from yams in favor for sweet potatoes and vise versa if you want to increase the potassium or vitamin C in your diet!

Sweet Potato Benefits for Skin

Eating sweet potatoes can greatly enhance the health of your skin due to the high content of beta-carotene, which helps convert vitamin A in your body that triggers DNA responsible to produce new skin cells. Ever wonder why most of your skincare products have retinoic acid and retinol in them? 

As your body makes new cells, your old skin is sloughed off and you end up with a vibrant sheen that is more resistant to chemicals and damage. Also, some experts claim that beta-carotene helps reverse free radical damage, which leads to wrinkles.

If you want healthy glowing skin, consider using sweet potato products to help keep your skin hydrated.

Sweet Potato Scrub:

+  Make a paste out of half a cup of boiled sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon organic coffee grounds, and 1 tablespoon of kefir.

+  Use this as a scrub in the shower and follow up with a coconut oil moisturizer.

Sweet Potatoes For Weight Loss

Sweet potatoes are also a great food to help you lose weight because they are:

  • Lower in calories
  • Low on the glycemic index (which means that they won’t spike your blood sugar)
  • High in fiber
  • High in potassium

And, according to the Mayo Clinic,

Because low glycemic index foods are absorbed more slowly, they stay in your digestive tract longer. This is why these foods are sometimes called slow carbs. These foods may help control appetite and delay hunger cues, which can help with weight management. Balanced blood sugar also can help reduce the risk of insulin resistance.”

Sweet Potato Recipes

Want to harness all of the benefits of sweet potatoes? Then try one of these super healthy sweet potato recipes:

Sweet Potato Brownies

Sweet Potato Fries

Rosemary Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Garlic Sweet Potato Soup

What are YOUR favorite sweet potato recipes?

 

Josh Axe

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

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Sources & References:

  • Wachob C. 10 fun facts about sweet potatoes. Available at: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11202/10-fun-facts-about-sweet-potatoes.html.
  • Mohanraj R, et al. Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam) - A Valuable Medicinal Food: A Review. J Med Food. 2014 Jun 12.
  • Li PG, et al. Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jun 7;19(21):3300-8.
  • Gundala SR, et al. Polar biophenolics in sweet potato greens extract synergize to inhibit prostate cancer cell proliferation and in vivo tumor growth. Carcinogenesis. 2013 Sep;34(9):2039-49.
  • Cho J, et al. Antioxidant and memory enhancing effects of purple sweet potato anthocyanin and Cordyceps mushroom extract. Arch Pharm Res. 2003;26(10):821–825.
  • Mayo Clinic. Glycemic index diet: What's behind the claims. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/glycemic-index-diet/art-20048478.