Nutrition in sweet potato

Contents

Does Sweet Potato Have Any Side Effects?

Sweet potato, also called camote or kumara, is an edible tuber, belonging to the Convolvulaceae or morning glory plant family. There are about 400 varieties of sweet potato, differentiated by their skin and flesh color, ranging from cream, yellow, and orange to pink or purple.

Sweet Potatoes vs. Regular Potatoes: Battle Of The Spuds

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are part of the Solanaceae family and related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant along with the deadly nightshade. The leaves of potatoes are poisonous and cannot be eaten. Unlike potatoes, the leaves of sweet potatoes are edible and very nutritious.

  • Sweet potatoes are roots whereas regular potatoes are tubers (underground stems). The calorie content of the white potato and the sweet potato is similar. A 100 g serving of a baked white potato with the skin contains 93 calories. The same size serving of a baked sweet potato with the skin contains 90 calories.
  • Both species (when boiled, without skin) contain similar amounts of water, fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
  • Sweet potatoes contain higher amounts of fiber and sugars, and sometimes have a lower glycemic index.
  • Both are good sources of potassium and vitamin C, but sweet potatoes are excellent sources of vitamin A.

Thus, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, are a better source of fiber, and provide similar or slightly higher levels of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin A) than regular potatoes.1

Side Effects Of Sweet Potatoes

Gallstones And Kidney Stones

Sweet potatoes are among the select vegetables with high amounts of oxalates (greater than 10 mg per serving). Oxalates tend to crystallize when they exist in excessive levels in the body. They play a part in the formation of calcium-oxalate kidney stones, which is the most common form of kidney stone. Individuals with impaired kidney and gallbladder functions who have trouble processing and excreting oxalates from the body need to consult their doctor before including sweet potatoes in their diet.

Stomach Pain

Sweet potatoes contain a type of sugar called mannitol that can cause stomach pain if you have a sensitive stomach. A frequent stomach pain every time you eat sweet potatoes might suggest that you are intolerant to foods containing mannitol. Mannitol can also trigger bloating and diarrhea in some cases.

Blood Glucose Level Spikes

Sweet potato ranks low on the glycemic index scale, but the way a food is prepared also affects its glycemic index. A boiled sweet potato has a low GI of 44. But if baked for 45 minutes, the same sweet potato has an extremely high glycemic index level of 94. Individuals watching their diet and blood sugar levels for disease management or overall wellness must make sure they prepare sweet potatoes correctly.2

Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes

  • The purple anthocyanins in sweet potatoes protect the body from the ill-effects of free radicals and heavy metals.3 They bring relief in conditions like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. These purple pigments also minimize oxidative liver damage4 caused by a high-cholesterol diet and can suppress colon, stomach, lung, and breast cancer cell proliferation.
  • Sweet potatoes are power-packed with vitamins. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes especially are rich sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A and have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.5
  • The potassium content sweet potatoes contain can help lower your blood pressure while the phosphorus content can help your body store energy and repair damaged tissues.6
  • Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index and can help regulate blood sugar, even in type 2 diabetes patients.7

Conclusion

If eaten in moderation and prepared in a healthy way, sweet potatoes are a healthy, nutritious, and tasty food that should pose no significant health risks.

References

1. White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which Are Healthier? Cleveland Clinic.
2. Allen, Jonathan C., Alexis D. Corbitt, Katherine P. Maloney, Masood S. Butt, and Van-Den Truong. “Glycemic index of sweet potato as affected by cooking methods.” Open Nutrition Journal 6 (2012): 1-11.
3. Suda, Ikuo, Tomoyuki Oki, Mami Masuda, Mio Kobayashi, Yoichi Nishiba, and Shu Furuta. “Physiological functionality of purple-fleshed sweet potatoes containing anthocyanins and their utilization in foods.” Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly: JARQ 37, no. 3 (2003): 167-173.
4. Choi, Jae Ho, Chul Yung Choi, Kyung Jin Lee, Yong Pil Hwang, Young Chul Chung, and Hye Gwang Jeong. “Hepatoprotective effects of an anthocyanin fraction from purple-fleshed sweet potato against acetaminophen-induced liver damage in mice.” Journal of medicinal food 12, no. 2 (2009): 320-326.
5. Teow, Choong C., Van-Den Truong, Roger F. McFeeters, Roger L. Thompson, Kenneth V. Pecota, and G. Craig Yencho. “Antioxidant activities, phenolic and β-carotene contents of sweet potato genotypes with varying flesh colours.” Food Chemistry 103, no. 3 (2007): 829-838.
6. Slavin, Joanne L., and Beate Lloyd. “Health benefits of fruits and vegetables.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 3, no. 4 (2012): 506-516.
7. Ludvik, Bernhard H., Katja Mahdjoobian, Werner Waldhaeusl, Astrid Hofer, Rudolf Prager, Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, and Giovanni Pacini. “The Effect of Ipomoea batatas (Caiapo) on Glucose Metabolism and Serum Cholesterol in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes A randomized study.” Diabetes Care 25, no. 1 (2002): 239-240.

Are Sweet Potatoes Healthy?

By Keri Glassman, MS, RD

Ask Keri: Are Sweet Potatoes Healthy?

Keri Says: Sweet potatoes are a great source of powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene and other important phytonutrients. They’re also lower on the Glycemic Index than white potatoes, which means they’re less likely to cause a blood sugar spike.

Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are similar, however, in terms of calories, fiber, and macronutrient (carbs, fat and protein) content.

So, are sweet potatoes good for you in way that means you should ditch white potatoes for good? Here’s what you need to know.

RELATED: 17 Surprising, Tasty Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes vs. White Potatoes: The Basics

One cup of raw sweet potato contains about 114 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat. One cup of white potato has 116 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat.

Aside from the sugar content (responsible for the sweet taste), the macronutrients are pretty similar, right? This is why many people wonder why sweet potatoes are known for being uber healthy while old school taters get a bad rap. Well, it’s all about the micronutrients.

Why Are Sweet Potatoes Healthy?

All potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, many of which act as antioxidants or have anti-inflammatory properties, like vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients. But a sweet potato’s characteristic orange hue is a hint at its leg up.

That color is the result of a super high concentration of a phytonutrient called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant, and we know antioxidants help protect the body from many diseases (like reducing the risk of heart disease). It’s also a precursor to to vitamin A, meaning your body uses it to make the vitamin. Vitamin A is important for immune system function, vision, cellular communication, and more.

RECIPE: How to Make Sweet Potato Nachos

And speaking of colors, have you ever tried purple sweet potatoes? Those pretty tubers also contain cyanidin, a phytochemical that acts as a strong antioxidant and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Okay, so you might be thinking, “What about all of the sugar in sweet potatoes?” Though sweet potatoes do have more sugar, they’re actually considered “low” on the Glycemic Index (GI) compared to regular white potatoes, which are considered “high.” This means your blood sugar will rise more slowly, preventing a sharp spike (and subsequent crash).

Take note: The GI value changes based on the cooking method. When you bake a sweet potato, you end up with much more sugar, which raises the GI score. Boiling the same sweet potato results in less of an increase.

RELATED: The Most Unexpected Way to Serve Sweet Potatoes (Hint: It Involves Chocolate!)

Sweet Potatoes vs. White Potatoes: The Bottom Line

By now the fact that sweet potatoes are good for you is pretty clear, but why are regular potatoes still so frowned upon? French fries, tater tots, potato chips…these fatty, high-sodium, often processed forms are the most most common choices, which is a big reason why the tubers end up with a bad rap.

However, while a sweet potato provides additional nutrients, a real, whole potato of any kind is a good choice and will help you meet your nutrient needs. Eat them as the starchy portion of your meal (I usually recommend one or two starchy servings a day), make sure to prep them right (yep, that means no fried or au gratin), and mix up the variety to reap all of the varied benefits. One important tip: Try not to peel them! Many of the powerful phytonutrients in both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are in the skin.

I’ll leave you with my personal favorite: A baked sweet potato with a teaspoon of coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon, and sprinkle of sea salt. Delicious!

(Photos: )

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Sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh, though the hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display colors such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Although they are often found on holiday tables covered in marshmallows or mixed with added sweeteners, there’s no need! True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are also one of the top sources of beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A.

Unlike a potato (edible tubers of the nightshade family), the sweet “potato” is a large edible root within the morning glory family. They’re also different from yams, which are edible tubers within the lily family and native to Africa and Asia. Chances are the “yams” found in your local supermarket are actually a variety of sweet potato. True yams are distinguishable by their blackish/brown, bark-like skin and white or purple-toned flesh.

Sweet Potatoes and Health

  • Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are richest in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant “phyto” chemicals that give vegetables their bright colors. These phytochemicals are researched for their potential role in human health and disease prevention.
  • If swapping sweet potatoes for white potatoes, you’ll still want to go easy on the portions: Though sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene, they have a high glycemic index and glycemic load—almost as high as that of a white potato. Most people don’t eat sweet potatoes in the same over-sized quantities as they do white potatoes, which is perhaps why research studies haven’t found sweet potatoes to be a major culprit for weight gain and diabetes.

Rich In:

  • Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Fiber

Make

  1. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place. They are more perishable than you might think, so it is best to use them within a week of purchase.
  2. Before cooking, scrub the skins well as these are edible and nutritious.
  3. Pierce the potato with a fork 4-5 times, which allows steam to escape.
    • If cooking in an oven, place on a lined baking sheet in a preheated oven to 400 F. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until flesh is tender. Allow potatoes to cool a few minutes before slicing.
    • If microwaving, place on a microwave-safe dish and heat on high 8-10 minutes. Turn potatoes bottom side up halfway through cooking to ensure even heating. Allow potatoes to cool a few minutes before slicing.
  4. If boiling on the stove, peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Rinse well in a colander. Transfer potatoes to a pot and add water until cubes are completely covered. On medium-high heat, cover the pot and let potatoes simmer until tender, usually about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and season as desired.

Serve

  • Add cooked, diced sweet potatoes to soups or salads.
  • For a quick meal, slice a baked sweet potato in half and top with cooked beans, broccoli, and feta cheese or Greek yogurt.
  • For mashed sweet potatoes: Use a fork, masher, or blender to puree the cooked potatoes. Add liquid such as water, broth, or milk if a smoother consistency is desired. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, spices, or herbs as desired.
  • For roasted sweet potato wedges: Wash and cut a medium sweet potato into wedges. Coat with olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and herbs or spices if desired. Bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes or until the insides are tender and the outsides are crisp.

More recipe ideas and serving suggestions featuring sweet potatoes:

  • Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

Did You Know?

  • In addition to the root, sweet potato leaves and shoots are also edible and commonly eaten in some countries.
  • Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes. Cooking with the skin on further helps to minimize leaching of nutrients including beta-carotene and vitamin C.

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Sweet Potatoes

Learn more about the latest evidence-based research on sweet potatoes in the videos below.

What did the mammoth Global Burden of Disease Study identify as the primary cause of Americans’ death and disability? The typical American diet—with inadequate vegetable intake as our fifth-leading dietary risk factor, nearly as bad as our consumption of processed meat.

Indeed, a more plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or reverse some of our leading causes of death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, and may improve not only body weight, blood sugar levels, and ability to control cholesterol, but also our emotional states, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, sense of well-being, and daily functioning.

My Daily Dozen recommends two daily servings of vegetables, and sweet potatoes are one of my favorites. During harsh Boston winters while I was in medical school, I would take two freshly microwaved sweet potatoes and pop them into my coat pockets to keep my hands warm. After they cooled down, healthy snacks on the go! It’s actually better to boil them to best preserve their nutritional content, but regardless of the cooking method, keep on the skin as its peel has nearly ten times the antioxidant power as the inner flesh (on a per-weight basis), giving them an antioxidant capacity approaching that of blueberries.

Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest common whole-food sources of potassium, which every cell in our body requires to function. In fact, they can be considered a superfood and are ranked as one of the healthiest foods on the entire planet. Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest and cheapest, with one of the highest nutrient-rich food scores per dollar. When picking out varieties at the supermarket, remember that a sweet potato’s nutritional content is tied directly to the intensity of its color. The more yellow or orange its flesh, the healthier it may be, and purple sweet potatoes are even healthier!

Image Credit: . This image has been modified.

7 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

A lot of people ask me if sweet potatoes are actually that good for you, which isn’t surprising considering their very name suggests they’re sugar-and-starch bombs! But as a nutritionist, I give the root veggie two thumbs way up. I enjoy eating sweet potatoes all year long, and in the fall, they become particularly appealing—as a hearty side dish, and an ingredient in everything from soups and stews to pies and other desserts.

The colorful gems offer some pretty impressive health perks. Here are six benefits of sweet potatoes, along with some simple ways to healthfully incorporate sweet potatoes into your everyday meals, snacks, and treats.

RELATED: 25 Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes

They’re a good source of vitamins C and A

One cup of baked sweet potato provides nearly half of your daily vitamin C needs. The same portion also supplies 400%(!) of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Both nutrients are vital for supporting immune function, which is especially important during cold and flu season. Vitamin A is also key for maintaining healthy skin, vision, and organ function.

And lots of other nutrients too

A serving of sweet potato delivers a third of your need for manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promote skin and bone health. You’ll also get between 15 and 30% of several energy-supporting B vitamins and minerals, including potassium (more on this below).

RELATED: 6 Health Benefits of Cranberries

Sweet Potatoes are antioxidant powerhouses

Vitamins A and C also function as antioxidants that protect cells against aging and disease. For even more antioxidants, choose purple sweet potatoes. The pigment that gives them their gorgeous hue has particularly potent antioxidant properties.

They’re anti-inflammatory

We’ve long known that unchecked, low-grade inflammation raises the risk of nearly every chronic disease, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Natural anti-inflammatory compounds in sweet potatoes have been shown to quell inflammation at the cellular level: Research done on animals has shown reduced inflammation in brain tissue and nerve tissue after purple sweet potato extract consumption.

RELATED: How to Make Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

They don’t cause blood sugar spikes

Some may regard sweet potatoes as too starchy, but their high fiber content makes them a slow burning starch—meaning they won’t spike blood sugar and insulin levels. One cup of baked sweet potato provides about 6 grams of fiber, which is more than a quarter of the daily recommended minimum.

Sweet potatoes help regulate blood pressure

One cup of sweet potato baked in its skin provides 950 mg of potassium. That’s more than twice the amount in a medium banana. Potassium essentially sweeps excess sodium and fluid out of the body, which lowers blood pressure and reduces strain on the heart. Potassium also helps regulate heart rhythm and muscle contractions. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, less than 2% of Americans meet the daily recommended potassium target of 4,700 mg.

RELATED: 8 Health Benefits of Carrots

They may help support weight loss

About 12% of the starch in sweet potatoes is resistant starch, a filling, fiber-like substance your body doesn’t digest and absorb. One study found that replacing just 5.4% of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch resulted in a 20 to 30% increase in fat burning after a meal. Resistant starch also prompts the body to pump out more satiety-inducing hormones.

How to eat more sweet potatoes

I love to bake sweet potatoes and drizzle with a combo of ground cinnamon and maple syrup thinned with a bit of warm water. You can also bake, mash, and fold sweet potatoes into overnight oats; whip them into a smoothie; or puree them with low-sodium organic veggie broth as the base for a soup. Chunked baked sweet potatoes make a fantastic addition to a garden salad, and crisp oven-baked wedges can satisfy a French fry craving. Mashed sweet potato also makes a fantastic addition to desserts and goodies, from no-bake cookies to brownies, pudding, and of course, the classic fall favorite, sweet potato pie.

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Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

White sweet potatoes are an uncommon and delicious variety of sweet potatoes. This variety is less sweet than the traditional orange-fleshed sweet potato, but could be highly beneficial. Read more to learn about the health benefits of white sweet potatoes, and for some delicious recipes!

What Are White Sweet Potatoes?

White sweet potatoes are a white-fleshed variety of Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato).

Extracts from white-fleshed sweet potatoes are being investigated for a number of potential health benefits to blood glucose and cholesterol levels .

White Sweet Potato Nutrition

Like all sweet potatoes (such as purple and Japanese sweet potatoes), they are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Additionally, they provide dietary fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, and iron and are low in fat and cholesterol .

Sweet potatoes are also rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids, which give the different varieties of sweet potato their distinctive colors. The table below summarizes the amounts of these compounds in white sweet potato in comparison to the common orange-fleshed variety :

BCE = -carotene equivalent, QE = quercetin equivalent, GAE = gallic acid equivalent

Potential Health Benefits (Possibly Effective)

White sweet potato (Caiapo) supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use and generally, lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

1) Diabetes

The starch in sweet potatoes is a complex carbohydrate. It has a high ratio of amylose to amylopectin, and amylose raises blood sugar more slowly. This is why it has a moderate glycemic index (ranking of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels) and is considered safe for people with diabetes .

In a study of 61 patients with type 2 diabetes, an extract of white sweet potato skin (4 g of Caiapo) decreased blood sugar compared to those taking a placebo .

A follow up of the same study found that the sweet potato extract improved insulin sensitivity .

In another study of 18 men with type 2 diabetes, those given a high dose of white-skinned sweet potato extract (4 g/day) had increased insulin sensitivity compared to those who received a lower dose (2 g/day) or a placebo. Those taking a lower dose experienced a slight improvement .

When insulin-resistant rats were fed white-skinned sweet potatoes, blood sugar decreased .

Another animal study found that a protein isolated from white-skinned sweet potatoes (arabinogalactan-protein) improved insulin resistance in diabetic mice .

Flavonoids extracted from sweet potato leaves also decreased blood sugar in diabetic mice in doses of 100 mg/kg of body weight .

Mechanism of Action

A cell study on human white blood cells concluded that white-skinned sweet potato prevented and improved symptoms of diabetes by increasing immune activity .

While the evidence for white sweet potato’s benefit to blood glucose has been promising, the available clinical trials have been small. Furthermore, the results were statistically significant, but not dramatic. Additional human studies will be required to determine whether white sweet potato could really be useful in diabetes.

Potential Health Benefits (Insufficient Evidence)

2) Heart Disease

In a study of 61 patients with type 2 diabetes, an extract of white sweet potato skin (4 g of Caiapo) decreased cholesterol levels compared to those taking a placebo. The extract had no effect on triglycerides, however. Similarly, 4 g of Caiapo reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels (18 male type 2 diabetics) .

When insulin-resistant rats were fed white-skinned sweet potatoes, triglyceride levels decreased .

This potential benefit has only been demonstrated in one relatively small human study so far. Larger and more powerful trials will be needed to confirm any actual health benefit.

Animal Studies (Lacking Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of white sweet potato for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

Clinical studies will be required to determine whether these benefits translate to humans. Talk to your doctor about better-studied alternatives for these health goals.

3) Wound Healing

Researchers treated rat wounds with a cream that contained white sweet potato. The rat wounds healed faster when treated with white sweet potato .

4) Stomach Ulcers

White sweet potato prevented stomach ulcers in rats after acid levels were purposely increased .

Dietary and Supplementary Sources

The Dosage of White Sweet Potato Extract

There is no safe and effective dose of white sweet potato extract because no sufficiently powered study has been conducted to find one for any medical purpose.

However, clinical trials have found that people with diabetes benefited from 4 g per day of Caiapo .

Safety & Side Effects

White sweet potato is a safe and nutritious edible tuber that can be part of a healthy diet. There is no evidence of significant adverse effects from eating white sweet potato or taking its extract.

In 2 studies, patients took 4 g/day of Caiapo (white sweet potato extract) for 6 – 12 weeks with no side effects (18 and 61 diabetics, respectively) .

Limitations and Caveats

Studies evaluating the specific health benefits of white sweet potatoes are lacking; most data are of the benefits that are common to all sweet potatoes. While there is some evidence they are beneficial for people with diabetes and heart disease, studies of the other health benefits have only been conducted in animals or on cells.

Where to Find White Sweet Potato

Although white-skinned sweet potatoes are available in supermarkets, this variety is much less common than the orange varietal. White sweet potato extract (Caiapo) is readily available online and in supermarkets .

Mashed White Sweet Potatoes

This delicious dish is flexible and serves 4.

  1. Peel and cut 2 lbs sweet potatoes into large pieces, and place into salted water.
  2. Continue boiling until soft (easily pierced by a fork), and then drain.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons ghee, and 1/4 cup whole milk to drained sweet potatoes and mash until smooth.
  4. Season with desired herbs or toppings.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted White Sweet Potatoes With Mirin and Honey

This dish has an amazing aroma and serves 4.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 °F (232 °C) and place a well-seasoned 8″-10″ cast-iron skillet in the oven.
  2. Poke approximately 2 lbs sweet potatoes with a fork in multiple spots and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Or, wrap in foil and bake at 450 °F (232 °C) until edges are tender but the center is still hard about 30-35 minutes.
  3. Transfer sweet potatoes to a bowl, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Combine 1/2 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine), 2 tablespoons raw honey, 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
  5. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into rounds, 1-1.5” thick and toss rounds in the mirin mixture.
  6. Using oven mitts, carefully remove hot skillet from oven. Add 2 teaspoons of a neutral flavored oil and swirl pan to coat.
  7. Roast sweet potatoes cut side down, in the hot skillet, at 450 °F (232 °C) for 15-20 minutes or until caramelized on one side.
  8. Flip sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes longer.
  9. Transfer sweet potatoes to serving vessel.
  10. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and scrape up browned bits. Add 2 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter) and swirl pan until melted.
  11. Pour sauce over sweet potatoes, season with salt, and enjoy!

Whether you’re using sweet potatoes in a fancy-special holiday dish or just baking one for a quick after-work dinner, you’re getting a veggie with major health superpowers. Sweet potatoes are packed with plenty of minerals, fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients — they help both your body and mind. Not only that: They’re simple to prepare. You can cook sweet potatoes in a variety of ways, from baking to mashing to roasting to stir-frying. So don’t hesitate to toss ’em into your shopping cart!

Nutrition Stats

Serving Size: 1 medium-size sweet potato

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

There’s a reason you find sweet potatoes in every salad shop special. Eating them can lead to:

  • Healthy vision: All of that vitamin A helps maintain eyesight.
  • Better immunity: Vitamin A also helps with other bodily functions, including cellular communication, growth, and differentiation.
  • A sharper mind: Vitamin B6 is an essential coenzyme for cognitive development.
  • A stronger heart: Both potassium and magnesium are involved in blood pressure support.
  • Lower LDL cholesterol: The fiber can help reduce bad cholesterol and risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

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Now, get your top questions on sweet potatoes answered.

Are sweet potatoes better for you than white potatoes?

While sweet potatoes are significantly higher in vitamin A and slightly higher in fiber, the white potato wins when it comes to potassium and vitamin C content. Both white and sweet potatoes count as nutrient-dense foods. Switch it up and get the benefits of both.

Are sweet potatoes high in sugar?

Nope! They’ve got naturally occurring sugar, but there’s no added sugar in sweet potatoes (unless you’re adding some during cooking). In fact, research shows that sweet potatoes may be an excellent addition to a diabetic diet. It’s a common misconception that diabetics must avoid carbohydrates altogether. What matters is the type of carb and spreading them throughout the day. Sweet potatoes are a low-glycemic food and high in fiber, which means they release and absorb glucose into the bloodstream very slowly, preventing a spike in blood sugar.

Are sweet potatoes the same as yams?

Although many Americans use their names interchangeably, the two vegetables are not related. Yams are almost exclusively grown in Africa and Asia. Look for a cylindrical shape with a black or brown bark-like skin, as well as white, purple, or reddish flesh. They’re drier and starchier than sweet potatoes, and often only found in international supermarkets.

True sweet potatoes are more readily available in U.S. grocery stores. So what’s with the name mix-up? There are two main varieties of sweet potatoes grown in the U.S.: white flesh and orange flesh. Apparently, the orange variety only entered the American market several decades ago. In order to differentiate between the two, producers started selling them as yams. Therefore, the orange sweet potatoes are often mislabeled as yams in stores.

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Orange, yellow, or purple sweet potatoes: What’s the difference?

Studies show that the different colored sweet potatoes may contain varying levels of phytonutrients, the health-promoting chemicals found in plants. For instance, orange sweet potatoes have the highest levels of beta-carotene, a carotenoid with antioxidant activity. On the other hand, purple sweet potatoes have more anthocyanins, the flavonoid found in blueberries. Anthocyanins also have an antioxidant effect and may support healthy brain function. Bottom line: Including a variety of colors in your diet is the way to go!

Can you O.D. on vitamin A?

While it’s true that excess levels of pre-formed vitamin A from supplements can lead to a toxicity known as hypervitaminosis A, large amounts of pro-vitamin A carotenoids (i.e., those from fruits and veggies) are NOT associated with major adverse side effects. However, eating excessive amounts of beta-carotene rich foods like carrots can cause a harmless condition called carotenemia, which is characterized by yellow pigmentation of the skin.

How should I prepare them?

There are so many delicious ways to reap the benefits of sweet potatoes! When purchasing, select firm tubers (no soft spots) with smooth skin. Store them loose for up to a week in a cool, dry, and dark place — not the fridge, as this can cause their core to harden and create an unpleasant taste when cooked.

Use the spuds in a variety of recipes, including breakfast dishes, casseroles, and even desserts. We love baking a batch of sweet potatoes for the week and adding them to both sweet and savory meals. Tip: Keep the sweet potato skin on to maximize the fiber content. Switch it up and try making:

  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Roasted sweet potato “fries”
  • Salads with roasted sweet potatoes
  • Sweet potato brownies

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

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