11 Impressive Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

by Kiran Patil last updated -

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The health benefits of sweet potatoes include their ability to help in healthy weight gain, boost immunity, regulate digestion, treat asthma and bronchitis, and control diabetes. Sweet potatoes also help in treating arthritis and stomach ulcers.

What are Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes, also known as yams, are tuberous crops with the scientific name Ipomoea batatas. The plant is a creeper with heart-shaped or lobed leaves. The color of the tuber varies from purple or red to pale yellow or white, depending upon the variety, soil type, climate, and available minerals.

The red variety has drier and harder flesh while the white and yellow types have juicier flesh. The red variety has a characteristic aroma which becomes more prominent on boiling. The more reddish or orange the color of the flesh of yams, the stronger the aroma will be. Perhaps, this is due to the presence of beta-carotene, the concentration of which also increases with the color.

A closeup view of sweet potatoes on a white background

Nutrition Facts

Sweet potato, raw, unprepared (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]77.28
Energy [kcal]86
Protein [g]1.57
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.05
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]20.12
Fiber, total dietary [g]3
Sugars, total [g]4.18
Calcium, Ca [mg]30
Iron, Fe [mg]0.61
Magnesium, Mg [mg]25
Phosphorus, P [mg]47
Potassium, K [mg]337
Sodium, Na [mg]55
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.3
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]2.4
Thiamin [mg]0.08
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]0.56
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.21
Folate, DFE [µg]11
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]709
Vitamin A, IU [IU]14187
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.26
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.8
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Sweet Potatoes Nutrition

According to USDA, sweet potatoes provide energy, carbohydrates, fiber, and have low levels of sugar. Amongst minerals, they contain calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Vitamin C and B vitamins such as folate, pantothenic acid, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin are found in yams.

They are packed with other nutrients that include vitamin A, beta carotene, tocopherol, vitamin K and vitamin E. They also provide phytosterols, isoflavones, and amino acids such as leucine, glutamic acid, and threonine.

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have many health benefits. Let’s explore them in detail below.

Improve Digestion

The fiber content in sweet potatoes is higher than that of common potatoes and they taste good too! When these two factors are combined with other minerals like magnesium, which is present in these root vegetables, it makes an excellent facilitator for digestion. They are easy to digest as well since they mainly contain starch. They are soothing to the stomach and intestines, so you can avoid any difficulties of digesting them.

Promote Weight Gain

Sweet potatoes contain good amounts of complex starch, along with healthy vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Moreover, they are very easy to digest. Thus, they provide a lot of energy and are excellent bulk builders for people looking to gain weight.

People who have recently suffered from illnesses, or are self-conscious about being frail or abnormally thin should welcome this news about yams since there are no associated side effects, which most of the synthetic bulk building dietary supplements have.

Treat Inflammation

Sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, although they belong to different food families. This is primarily due to the presence of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and magnesium. They are equally effective in curing internal and external inflammation.

Boost Immune System

Sweet potatoes are excellent immune system boosters that defend your body from a wide variety of conditions. They are very rich in beta-carotene, which is a major antioxidant, along with vitamin C and B complex vitamins, iron, and phosphorus. All these nutrients help in strengthening the immunity and keeping you healthy.

Relieve Asthma

Sweet potatoes are effective in curing congestion of the nose, bronchi, and lungs; thereby, giving relief from asthma. It is their aroma that helps in this relief.

Treat Bronchitis

Sweet potatoes are believed to be capable of warming up the body, possibly due to the sweetness and other nutrients that impact body temperature. This property is also beneficial for people suffering from bronchitis, along with its powerful effect on congestion. The concentration of vitamin C, iron, and other nutrients helps cure bronchitis.

Reduce Arthritis Pain

Beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B complex make sweet potatoes a highly important food source for managing arthritis. The water in these tuberous vegetables are boiled can also be applied externally on joints to ease the associated pain of arthritis.

Anti-cancer Properties

Research conducted on laboratory mice by Khalid Asadi et al. from the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, New Zealand suggested purple sweet potato anthocyanin-rich diets helped reduce and inhibit tumor growth (Biomed Research International 2015). Chemoprevention trials are needed on humans to understand the anti-cancer properties of sweet potato. Additionally, a study conducted by researchers from Kansas State University, US suggested that anthocyanin-enriched sweet potato may protect against colorectal cancer due to its antiproliferative abilities. 

Treat Stomach Ulcers

Sweet potatoes have a soothing effect on the stomach and the intestines. B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and calcium are all very effective in curing stomach ulcers. Moreover, the roughage prevents constipation and the resultant acid formation, thereby reducing the chance of ulcers. Their anti-inflammatory and soothing properties also reduce the pain and inflammation of the ulcers.

Control Diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes are beneficial for diabetics. Amazingly, they are very effective in regulating blood sugar levels by helping the proper secretion and function of insulin. Of course, that does not mean that diabetics should eat them indiscriminately. The idea is that they can replace rice or carbohydrate intake as a healthier option.

Prevent Dehydration

The fiber or roughage present in sweet potatoes helps the body retain water. This maintains water balance in the body, keeping you hydrated and your cells functioning efficiently.

sweetpotatoinfographic

Other Benefits

Sweet potatoes are effective for helping people quit addictions like smoking, drinking, and taking certain narcotics. They are good for the health of arteries and veins, as they protect their walls against hardening. The high concentration of beta-carotene (an alternative form of vitamin A) and phosphorus are excellent for both ocular and cardiac health.

So, go out and grab a sweet potato for your next meal; they are delicious and nutritious. Yum! Yum! Yam!

About the Author

Kiran Patil is the founder of Organic Facts. He has a keen interest in health, nutrition, and organic living. He completed his B.Tech and M. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Bombay and has been actively writing about health and nutrition since over past 12 years. When not working he likes to trek and do gardening.

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