We all love the sugary, caramelized flavor of sweet potatoes (commonly labeled as yams), but the benefits of sweet potatoes are what make this spud spectacular every day – not just holidays. Behind their orangy goodness, sweet potatoes are full of nutrients from which you can easily benefit when prepared properly. Their health and weight management benefits far exceed the nutritional value found in ordinary white and yellow potatoes.
Superior fiber content
Sweet potatoes contain almost twice as much fiber as other types of potatoes, with nearly 7 grams of fiber per serving! The high fiber content gives them a “slow burning” quality, meaning that their caloric energy is used more slowly and efficiently than a low-fiber carbohydrate.
They contain a large amount of B6, a vitamin that helps prevent blockage in arteries and keeps these important passageways flexible and healthy, allowing blood to flow freely.
In addition, sweet potatoes contain high amounts of potassium. Potassium plays an important role in lowering blood pressure by ridding the body of excess sodium and regulating fluid balance. It’s also an important electrolyte that helps regulate the natural rhythm of the heart, and maintains normal function of the brain and central nervous system. And I thought potassium was for preventing cramps on the court, lol!
Rich in beta-carotene
Beta-carotene, or vitamin A, is an important antioxidant. One medium sweet potato provides your body with more than enough of the recommended daily allowance.
Vitamin A helps in the prevention of several types of cancer, and offers skin protection from sun damage – from the inside out. And if that’s not enough, it has also been linked to the prevention of vision loss, “dry eyes” and macular degeneration.
A great source of manganese
Manganese is a little-discussed trace mineral that has some great health benefits. It’s needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates, which helps support healthy blood sugar levels. This can help stabilize the appetite for hours as opposed to the temporary satisfaction that comes with most other carbohydrates.
It also is a co-factor in enzymes that play an important role in the generation of energy as well as the efficient utilization of antioxidants. It is used for the treatment of anemia and is useful as a treatment for premenstrual symptoms in women.
Rich in vitamins C and E
Lastly, sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and E. These are potent antioxidant vitamins that play an important role in disease prevention and longevity.
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, helps to boost immunity and is vital for growth and repair of all body tissues by helping to heal cuts and wounds, improving cardiovascular health, protecting against degenerative diseases, and keeping teeth and gums healthy. Flavonoids in Vitamin C also protect eyes from cataract and macular degeneration.
Both vitamins also play a huge role in the health and beauty of your skin and hair, making them popular supplements. The combination of beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C in one food makes the sweet potato one heck of a “beauty food”. These nutrients all contribute to a healthy, glowing complexion and vibrant hair.
If eaten in moderation and prepared in a healthy way (not just as fries), sweet potatoes are a nutritious, delicious food that should pose no significant health risks. But if eaten too often, there are a couple of things to watch out for:
- Sweet potatoes have a very high content of vitamin A, which the body naturally stores. So when levels build up too high, you may notice your skin and nails looking a little orange. This side effect is temporary and should go away if you cut down on your sweet potato consumption.
- On a more serious note, according to the Mayo Clinic, people with a history of kidney stones may want to avoid eating too many sweet potatoes, as they contain oxalate, which contributes to the formation of kidney stones.