Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts & Health Benefits
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of energy, providing some protein, vitamin C and E, and lots of carotenoids, including betacarotene. Sweet potatoes are an extremely versatile vegetable and are wonderfully healthy for children and adults alike.
Sweet potatoes are a powerful anti-cancer food, with one serving a day reducing the risk of lung cancer. This is even more important if you are a smoker or an ex-smoker.
Raw Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts Label
Health Benefits of Sweet Potato
There are several varieties of sweet potatoes with colors that range from deep yellow, red, orange, purple, or pale; the most popular with the greatest amount of research is the orange sweet potato. Orange sweet potatoes have a much higher beta-carotene content compared to other orange foods such as carrots and mangoes. The orange-fleshed sweet potato is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The phenolic compounds and carotenoids give the potatoes their colorful flesh and skin colors, which translate to their antioxidant capacity.
The orange color contributes to the presence of carotenoids, which include beta-cryptoxanthin (BCX), lutein, and zeaxanthins. BCX in sweet potatoes metabolizes to vitamin A in humans, with a 100-gram tuber providing about 15,000 IU of vitamin A. Remember vitamin A is essential to increase IgA antibodies and maintain the integrity of our mucous membranes. Other polyphenols include caffeic acid, ferulic acid, sinapinic acid, and chlorogenic acid.
Sweet potatoes have high levels of amylose to amylopectin ratio, which directly affects blood sugar.
The amylose/amylopectin ratio has an important effect on the rate and extent of starch digestion. Starches with lower amylose content digest more quickly and raise blood sugar faster, and those with higher amylose digest more slowly and stabilize blood sugar. Individuals with type 2 diabetes have lower levels of adiponectin, the protein hormone produced by fat cells. Fat tissue controls immune function through the secretion of adipokines, and adiponectin is anti-inflammatory and suppresses the chronic inflammatory response.
A study that examined the consumption of sweet potatoes for seven days noted that it led to an improvement in antioxidant capacity and decreased the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Compared to white-fleshed sweet potatoes, a study found improvements in pancreatic cell function, lipid levels, and glucose management, and an improvement in insulin sensitivity in just eight weeks!
Sweet potatoes are also a great source of crude fibers, which are nondigestible carbohydrates that provide fecal bulkiness, improve digestion, and play a role in cholesterol level reduction. These fibers are essential to trapping dangerous substances such as cancer-causing agents, and also encourage the growth of natural microbial flora in the gut.
As a medicinal plant, sweet potato has anticancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. And it doesn’t lead to a spike in blood sugar, which is a particular benefit for diabetics. Add to that the benefits to your digestion and gut health, and it’s clear that sweet potatoes are a root vegetable well worth a place on your plate.
A good way is to peel and cube a sweet potato and cook it together with ordinary potatoes, drain them, and mash with a little butter or olive oil and some grated nutmeg. They’re equally delicious mashed with cooked parsnips or rutabagas. They’re also great roasted in a medium oven, brushed with olive oil and a little black pepper.