Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet Potato: Health Benefits and Nutritional Facts

Sweet potato is often consumed during Thanksgiving in United States. It is one of the most healthiest and nutritious vegetables that you should include in your daily diet. This versatile root vegetable is not only sweet in taste but also sweet on health. Health-conscious people love to eat this food as it is free of fat and contain fewer calories. Generally, sweet potatoes and yams are considered same vegetables, but they are totally different. Sweet potatoes provide a number of vitamins and minerals that protect us from several diseases.
Sweet Potato: Health Benefits and Nutritional Facts
Sweet potatoes are long and tapered vegetables, which are available in about 400 varieties throughout the year with smooth skin ranging from white, purple, red, beige, yellow and orange in color and flesh ranges from red, white, orange, pink, purple, yellow and violet in color. Compared to pink, red or orange flesh sweet potatoes, white or pale yellow flesh sweet potatoes are less sweet and moist. You can cook sweet potatoes in variety of ways such as baked, grilled, fried, boiled or microwaved.

As per North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission article, sweet potato comes at first number in the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) list with 582 points. CSPI compared sweet potato nutritional value with 58 other vegetables considering nutrients like Vitamin A, foliate, fiber, Vitamin C, iron, copper and calcium in which sweet potato ranked highest. Sweet potatoes that are orange or yellow skinned are the great source of beta carotene, while purple-skinned are loaded with anthocyanins (antioxidant). Sweet potatoes have 4 times the daily recommended value of beta carotene, 15% of potassium and 42% of vitamin C.

Nutritional Facts of Sweet Potato:

100 gm of sweet potatoes contains following amount of nutrients:
  • Protein - 1.6 gm
  • Carbohydrates - 20.1 gm
    • Dietary fiber - 3.0 gm
    • Sugars - 4.2 gm
    • Fat - 0.1 gm
  • Vitamins:
    • Vitamin A - 709 μg
    • β-carotene - 8509 μg
    • Thiamin - 0.1 mg
    • Riboflavin - 0.1 mg
    • Niacin - 0.61 mg
    • Pantothenic acid - 0.8 mg
    • Vitamin B6 - 0.2 mg
    • Folate - 11 μg
    • Vitamin C - 2.4 mg
  • Minerals:
    • Iron - 0.6 mg
    • Zinc - 0.3 mg
    • Calcium - 30.0 mg
    • Magnesium - 25.0 mg
    • Phosphorus - 47.0 mg
    • Potassium - 337 mg

Health Benefits of Sweet Potato:


Sweet potatoes are very helpful for people suffering from diabetes. They contain carotenoids, which stabilize the level of blood-sugar by decreasing insulin resistance. The fibre in them decreases bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body while chlorogenic acid content reduces insulin resistance. They also contain Vitamin B6 in a sufficient amount, which helps in resistance to diabetic heart disease.

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps and greater vulnerability to injuries are led by deficiency of potassium. Sweet potatoes are the great source of potassium so people who exercise a lot should include sweet potatoes in their daily diet to prevent muscle cramps and injuries as well as to boost energy level.

Boost Immune System

Sweet potatoes are among the highest sources of beta carotene, a natural antioxidant. Beta carotene protects from free radicals and ailments. Vitamin C, iron, Carotenoids, Vitamin B-complex and phosphorus in sweet potatoes make them an excellent immunity booster. Vitamin C stimulates antibodies and cells in the immune system and thereby strengthens it. So consuming sweet potatoes regularly make your immune system strong as well as protect against diseases.


Cigarette smoke cause deficiency of Vitamin A which leads to emphysemic lungs and lots of other health problems to the lungs. Sweet potatoes are great source of vitamin A so smokers and passive smokers should include them in their regular diet to induce vitamin A deficiency.

Heart diseases

Sweet potatoes prevent heart diseases as they contain potassium and vitamin B6. Potassium helps to prevent heart attack & stroke as well as maintain fluid & electrolyte balance in the body cells and normal heart function & blood pressure. Vitamin B6 in sweet potatoes decreases the chemical homocysteine, which has been linked to prevent heart attacks. As per a study, consuming 2 sweet potatoes a week help to decrease the risk of heart attack by 86%. According to another study, eating sweet potatoes decrease LDL cholesterol by 29%.

Fetal Development

Sweet potatoes are rich in folate, which is very essential for healthy fetal cell and the development of tissue. Pregnant and lactating mothers must add sweet potatoes in their diet.

Arthritis Relief

Sweet potatoes help to treat arthritis and decrease arthritis pain. Zinc, magnesium, beta-carotene and vitamin B complex contained in them enhance the healing of arthritis as well as alleviate the pain and swelling. Beta-cryptoxanthin in sweet potatoes helps to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. As per studies, people who ate in beta-cryptoxanthin rich foods have 50% less chances to develop inflammatory arthritis compared to other people. Vitamin C content of them also decreases the risk of developing certain forms of arthritis by maintaining collagen. To get relief from arthritis pain, boil sweet potatoes in water and apply that water externally on joints.


Body’s metabolic rate increases and potassium levels decreases when you are stressed out. To rebalance potassium levels and to normalize heart beat, you should consume potassium rich sweet potatoes.


The significant amount of fiber in sweet potatoes when combined with other minerals makes an outstanding agent to assist digestion. They are easy to digest as they have starch in them. Sweet potatoes also help to relieve constipation and prevent colon cancer. When you consume a sweet potato along with its skin, it will promote a healthy digestive tract.


Beta-carotene (natural anti-carcinogen and antioxidant) and Vitamin C are very helpful in treating cancer of intestines, colon, kidneys, prostrate and other internal organs. According to studies, people who ate beta-carotene foods in their daily diet have 32% less risk of developing lung cancer. Women who consumed lots of beta-carotene foods decreased 25% risk of developing breast cancer, as per The famous Nurses’ Health Study.

Stomach Ulcers

Sweet potatoes are excellent food for people with stomach ulcers. They have calming effect on stomach and intestines. They contain vitamin B-complex, beta carotene, potassium, vitamin C and calcium, which help in the curing of stomach ulcers. Fiber decreases the risk of developing ulcers by preventing constipation and acid formation. Sweet potatoes have anti inflammatory and soothing properties which also help to decrease ulcers’ pain and inflammation.

Eye Health

Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A which is great for the eyes. Vitamin A improves your eyesight & night vision as well as prevents cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. Vitamin A also treats the problem of dry eye.

Skin Benefits 

Sweet potatoes are great for skin health as they are rich in vitamin A. It helps to decrease wrinkles in the skin, protect against the effects of aging and fade dark spots. It also helps to cure skin conditions like acne, sunburns, eczema, cold sores, psoriasis, sun damage, etc. Vitamin C, folate and Vitamin B6 contained in sweet potatoes are also beneficial for skin health.


Vitamin A and C protect cells and have anti-inflammatory effect, which make sweet potatoes a good vegetable for people with asthma. Sweet potatoes provide relief to people suffering from asthma by decreasing the nasal passage, lungs and bronchi congestion.


Vitamin C, iron and other nutrients in this vegetable, help in treating bronchitis. Sweet potatoes raise the body temperature which is helpful to treat bronchitis and congestion.

Weight loss

Sweet potatoes are also helpful for losing weight. They contain the lowest glycemic index and are loaded with fiber. So consuming sweet potatoes make you feel fuller for longer period of time.


Sweet potatoes can cause swelling of the stomach and digestive disorders so you should eat them in moderation. They are also very high in sugar so consume them carefully. People with gallbladder problems should avoid them as they have oxalates.

Video of Sweet Potatoes Health Benefits from youtube:


Are the orange sweet potatoes (which are referred to yams in the supermarket) more nutritious as the white sweet potatoes? Or do the two varieties have the same nutritional value? Thank you for any clarification

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