9 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Sherllie Kartika (MS, RD)

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

What are Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are tuberous crops with the scientific name Ipomoea batatas. [1] The plant is a creeper with heart-shaped or lobed leaves. The color of the tuber varies from purple to red to pale yellow and white, depending upon the variety, the soil type, the climate it grows in, and the available minerals. As the name implies, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and its flavor can be enhanced when cooked.

The red variety has a drier and harder flesh while the white and yellow sweet potatoes have juicier flesh. The red variety has a characteristic aroma which becomes more prominent when boiled. The variety of taste, textures, and colors can be attributed to its antioxidants and vitamin content. The reddish and orange the colored sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, while the purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanin.

Whole sweet potato next to slices of sweet potato on a wooden table

You can make mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Sweet potato, raw, unprepared (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)
Serving Size :
Water [g]77.28
Energy 86
Energy [kJ]359
Protein [g]1.57
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.05
Ash [g]0.99
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]20.12
Fiber, total dietary [g]3
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]4.18
Sucrose [g]2.52
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.96
Fructose [g]0.7
Starch [g]12.65
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
Copper, Cu [mg]0.15
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.26
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]2.4
Thiamin [mg]0.08
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]0.56
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.8
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.21
Folate, total [µg]11
Folate, food [µg]11
Folate, DFE [µg]11
Choline, total [mg]12.3
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]709
Carotene, beta [µg]8509
Carotene, alpha [µg]7
Vitamin A, IU [IU]14187
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.26
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.01
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.01
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.8
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0
18:1 [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.01
18:2 [g]0.01
18:3 [g]0
Phytosterols [mg]12
Tryptophan [g]0.03
Threonine [g]0.08
Isoleucine [g]0.06
Leucine [g]0.09
Lysine [g]0.07
Methionine [g]0.03
Cystine [g]0.02
Phenylalanine [g]0.09
Tyrosine [g]0.03
Valine [g]0.09
Arginine [g]0.06
Histidine [g]0.03
Alanine [g]0.08
Aspartic acid [g]0.38
Glutamic acid [g]0.16
Glycine [g]0.06
Proline [g]0.05
Serine [g]0.09
Sources include : USDA [2]

Sweet Potatoes Nutrition

According to the USDA, sweet potatoes are a rich source of energy, carbohydrates, and fiber. They also contain a wide array of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. [3]

They are also packed with other nutrients that include vitamins as well as provide phytosterols, isoflavones, and amino acids such as leucine, glutamic acid, and threonine. A single serving of sweet potato alone will provide more than 400% of your daily dose of vitamin A!

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

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

Improves Digestion

The fiber content in sweet potatoes is higher than that of common potatoes and they taste better 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 since they mainly contain starch. They are soothing to the stomach and intestines, so you can avoid any difficulties in digesting them. Furthermore, fiber feeds the little microbes in our gut and thus help support and promote a healthy gut.

Promotes 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 sweet potatoes since there are no associated side effects, which most of the synthetic bulk building dietary supplements have.

Health benefits of sweet potatoes infographic

The fiber content in sweet potatoes is higher than that of common potatoes and they taste better too!

Reduces Inflammation

Sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties and are primarily due to the presence of beta-carotene, anthocyanins, vitamin C, and magnesium. Beta-carotenes and anthocyanins are active bio-compounds that may exert antioxidative effects when consumed and thereby reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Research studies have shown these compounds to promote immunity. [4] [5]

Boosts Immune System

Sweet potatoes are excellent immune system boosters that defend your body from a wide variety of conditions. As mentioned above, not only are they rich in antioxidants and vitamins, they are also rich in manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. All these nutrients help in strengthening the immunity and keeping you healthy. [6]

Treats 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 to treat bronchitis. [7]

Reduces 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. [8]

Treats Stomach Ulcers

Research shows that a high fiber diet and a diet rich in vitamin C reduces the risk of developing stomach ulcers. This is good news because sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and vitamin C. They also contain B-complex vitamins, potassium, and calcium are all very effective in curing stomach ulcers. Moreover, the roughage obtained from fiber 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. [9] [10]

Manages Diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes may be diabetes-friendly. They are a delicious and versatile substitute for white potatoes. Rich in fiber and beta-carotene, sweet potatoes can be included in various preparations. While more studies are required to ascertain its role as a part of diabetes reversal courses, they are safe to be included in your diet, especially considering their low glycemic index. [11] [12]

Prevents 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. [13]

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. [14]

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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