Sweet Potatoes: A Healthy Addition to a Balanced Diet
Sweet potatoes are starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetables with a tube shape that comes in different colours and sizes. They have a naturally sweet flavour and come in a variety of kinds. Due to their significantly lower calorie and carbohydrate content, sweet potatoes are a healthier substitute for all potato cravings. In addition to being low in cholesterol and saturated fat, sweet potatoes also include dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6. This superfood is also a good source of Vitamin A (as beta-carotene).
Sweet potatoes have a high nutritional value and are a cost-effective way to add nutrients to a diet. Continue reading for more information on the nutritional value, benefits and uses of sweet potatoes.
Nutritional Profile of Sweet Potato
The flesh of sweet potatoes is brightly coloured, usually orange, and has a thin, brown outer skin. However, there are more types, such as purple, yellow, or white. Sweet potatoes are edible, both whole and peeled, as are the plant’s leaves.
Sweet potatoes come in a variety of textures, and the differences in texture may also affect their nutritional value. The healthiest sweet potatoes are those with purple flesh because they contain more anthocyanins.
Here is the nutritional value of 100 g of raw, unprepared sweet potato:
Calories: 86 kcal
Protein: 1.57 g
Carbohydrates: 20.1 g
Fibre : 3 g
Starch: 12.6 g
Potassium: 337 mg
Phosphorous: 47 mg
Calcium: 30 mg
Vitamin A: 709 µg
Beta carotene: 8510 µg
Varieties of Sweet Potato
In its general form, sweet potatoes are starchy edible roots that are white and have tough skin. However, its colour and properties may vary slightly depending on its variety and climatic factors. The following are the major types of sweet potatoes :
Orange Sweet Potatoes
This variety of sweet potatoes has orange flesh and is slightly sweeter in comparison to other varieties. They are rich in beta-carotene, which becomes vitamin A that supports good vision, a healthy immune system and overall good health. There is also a significant amount of vitamin C, fibre and various antioxidants present in orange sweet potatoes.
White Sweet Potatoes
White sweet potatoes have a creamy white flesh and a mildly sweet flavour. This variety is rich in carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. It is the most versatile variety due to its taste and adaptability to various recipes.
Purple Sweet Potatoes
This type of sweet potato has a deep purple flesh and a slightly nutty flavour. Purple sweet potatoes get this highly vibrant colour due to the availability of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant that provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Purple sweet potatoes are best for desserts because of their flavour.
Sweet potatoes are a highly nutritious complement to any diet. They come in a variety of kinds that differ from one another in terms of colour and specific health benefits. While there are hundreds of variants worldwide, they generally fall into three primary categories based on colour and unique nutritional characteristics. Orange sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which the body uses to produce vitamin A and improve the immune system and eyesight. While purple sweet potatoes are full of potent antioxidants and anthocyanins, white sweet potatoes are high in carbs, fibre, and other necessary vitamins and minerals. Because of its adaptable flavour, sweet potatoes go well with almost any recipe.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are superfoods because of their high level of nutrition. Here’s a closer look at the advantages and health benefits of eating sweet potatoes:
Good for Eye Health
Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that helps treat eye conditions brought on by a deficiency of the vitamin. Orange sweet potatoes are the primary source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. In addition to improving vision, this antioxidant aids in the treatment of xerophthalmia and cataracts. According to Food & Nutrition Research research, purple sweet potatoes have anthocyanins, a particular class of antioxidants that have eye-beneficial properties.
Dietary fibre from sweet potatoes naturally helps with digestion and gastrointestinal wellness. Additionally, it has a high concentration of phytosterols, a type of plant sterol that protects the digestive tract and prevents constipation. Sweet potato phytosterols may be effective in the prevention and treatment of duodenal and stomach ulcers, especially those caused by NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen).
Improves Heart Health
Antioxidants and fibres aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Sweet potatoes are helpful in enhancing heart health because they are high in antioxidants and fibre. Additionally, purple sweet potatoes’ anthocyanin content reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Aids Weight Loss
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of resistant starch, a filling, fibre-like carbohydrate that the body is unable to absorb or digest. Resistant starch stimulates the release of peptides, which signal to the body that you are full. Additionally, resistant starch lowers the body’s fat storage capacity.
Improves Skin and Hair Health
Sweet potato extract is beneficial for skin and hair because it contains a variety of vitamins, including antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E. While vitamin E supports healthy skin and hair, vitamin C increases the production of collagen, which naturally improves skin texture. The anti-inflammatory qualities of vitamin C also help prevent acne and skin infections.
Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Despite having a high starch and sugar content, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, which implies that, in contrast to other starchy foods, their sugar content gets released gradually into the bloodstream. The gradual breakdown of sugar in the body reduces the chance of high blood sugar levels.
A higher-fibre diet lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, sweet potatoes’ high fibre content helps to manage diabetes. In fact, one cup of baked sweet potato offers approximately three grams of fibre.
Sweet potatoes have a number of health advantages that come with including them in a daily diet. Antioxidants are abundant in sweet potatoes, especially in the purple and orange types. Antioxidants lower the chances of cancer, heart disease, and ageing by combating free radicals in the human body. Sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fibres. The gut health benefits greatly from both forms of fibre. Sweet potatoes’ orange hue is a result of their high beta-carotene content. The body uses this beta-carotene to produce vitamin A, which is beneficial to vision. Sweet potatoes stabilise blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. They are also an excellent addition to weight-loss diets due to the presence of resistant starch.
Ways to Eat Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are highly versatile due to their mildly sweet and nutty flavour, which pairs well with a variety of recipes. One can add sweet potatoes to regular meals in the following ways:
Salads and Soups
Add cooked, diced, sweet potatoes to any soups or salads of choice for a nutritious addition to the meal.
Slice a baked sweet potato in half and top with cooked vegetables of choice, some cheese or yoghurt.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Mash the cooked sweet potatoes with the help of a fork or blender. Add any liquid of choice, such as milk, water, or yoghurt. Top it up with some salt and herbs as per taste.
Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Cut a medium-sized sweet potato in the shape of wedges. Coat with any vegetable oil of choice and spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle some salt and herbs if desired, and bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes or until they turn crisp.
Potential Side Effects of Sweet Potato
Besides several health benefits, sweet potatoes also have some potential side effects. Here are some possible side effects to be wary of:
Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, and when taken with medications that increase potassium levels in the body, such as beta-blockers, they may cause problems related to excessive potassium intake levels in the body.
People with kidney problems must avoid eating sweet potatoes because an improper-functioning kidney cannot remove potassium from their body, causing high potassium levels that can be harmful to them. Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of oxalates, which could increase calcium-oxalate kidney stones risk.
Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, and their excessive consumption causes hypervitaminosis A (vitamin A toxicity). This excess vitamin A accumulates in the liver, and the colour of the skin and nails may turn orange.
Additionally, sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates. Therefore, those on a carbohydrate restriction diet should avoid overindulging in them.
Sweet potatoes contain oxalates, which are substances that bind calcium and other minerals. A diet high in oxalates may result in kidney stones. If you currently have kidney stones or are at increased risk of getting them, you should limit the amount of foods high in oxalate. Overindulging in sweet potatoes is not recommended for people on a carb-restriction diet or using drugs that raise potassium levels in the body. Because sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, consuming too much of them can lead to hypervitaminosis A or vitamin A poisoning. When the liver absorbs too much vitamin A, the skin and nails may become orange in colour.
Sweet potato can be a healthy alternative to many traditional recipes. Baked sweet potato fries are a delicious alternative to French fries. You can also replace mashed potatoes with mashed sweet potatoes. In addition to this sweet potato can also be added to pancake batter to make it more wholesome.
Sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense superfoods that are full of fibre and antioxidants. It is a starchy root that, when eaten in moderation and as part of a regular diet, offers a number of health benefits. Based on their colour, sweet potatoes fall into three categories, each with unique nutritional advantages. Any dietary overindulgence, though, can have negative health repercussions, so it’s best to stick to the recommended daily allowance.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are sweet potatoes?
A: Sweet Potatoes are starchy, sweet-tasting tuberous roots used as root vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colours.
Q: What is the nutritional profile of sweet potatoes?
A: The nutritional profile of 100 g of sweet potatoes is as follows: Protein: 1.57 g, Energy: 86 kcal, Carbohydrates: 20.1 g, Dietary fibres : 3 g, Sugar: 4.18 g, Glucose: 0.96 g, Starch: 12.6 g, Calcium: 30 mg
Q: Can sweet potatoes aid in weight loss?
A: Sweet potatoes are beneficial for weight loss due to their high fibre content, low fat and calorie levels and nutrient density. However, consume in moderation.
Q: How do sweet potatoes contribute to heart health?
A: Eating potassium-rich sweet potatoes helps promote a healthy heart. Higher potassium intake allows you to excrete more sodium, lowers your blood pressure and reduces heart disease risk.
Q: Are sweet potatoes a good source of dietary fibre?
A: sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble, that helps maintain proper digestion and gut Health.
Q: What are the antioxidants found in sweet potatoes?
A: Sweet potatoes are rich in an antioxidant called beta-carotene and anthocyanins. The beta-carotene transforms into vitamin A after ingestion.
Q: Can sweet potatoes help regulate blood sugar levels?
A: Yes, sweet potatoes regulate blood sugar levels as they are high-fibre. It is incredibly impactful in type 2 diabetes.
Q: How do sweet potatoes benefit eye health?
A: Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, which plays an active role in improving vision and eye health.
Q: What role do sweet potatoes play in supporting the immune system?
A: Sweet potatoes provide beta carotene, which is critical to the immune system and improves gut health and immunity.
Q: Can sweet potatoes be part of a diabetic-friendly diet?
A: Yes, diabetic patients can consume sweet potatoes. This vegetable contains excellent nutritional benefits, and it slowly dissolves sugar in the bloodstream, which does not let the blood sugar levels rise.
Q: How does the glycemic index of sweet potatoes affect blood sugar?
A: Sweet potatoes have high fibre content and a low glycemic index, which helps to lessen the immediate impact on blood glucose levels. It can help people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels in control.
Q: What are the benefits of sweet potatoes during pregnancy?
A: The adequate amount of fibre present in sweet potatoes reduces blood sugar spikes and improves digestive health, which can reduce the risk of constipation during pregnancy.
Q: Are there any potential side effects or allergies associated with sweet potatoes?
A: Consuming sweet potatoes in excess can cause vitamin A toxicity that can cause skin rashes and headaches. Due to high fibre, excessive consumption of sweet potatoes can also cause bloating, stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Q: How can sweet potatoes be incorporated into various recipes and meals?
A: There are a variety of recipes in which sweet potatoes go well. One can add them to salads, soups, and cutlets or with any dessert and savoury recipes.
Q: What is the difference between sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in terms of nutrition?
A: Although they are both tuberous roots, sweet potatoes and ordinary potatoes have different tastes and looks. Both varieties of potatoes are high in carbohydrates, fibre, and vitamins C and B6. Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A, but white potatoes have more potassium.