Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Nutrition
on November 14, 2011

If you like sweet potatoes, you're in for a real treat — a health treat, that is. If you haven't fallen in love with sweet potatoes yet, here are some reasons why you might want to do so. This fibrous tuber is jam-packed with nutrition. Fill up on knowledge as you discover the health benefits of sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes get an A in nutrition. In the nutrition breakdown, the sweet potato is loaded with beta carotene and overflowing with vitamin A — 26081.9 international units, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is a powerful antioxidant known to reduce the effects of free radical damage. According to WebMD, vitamin A is necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin. If your diet is low in vitamin A, your skin may appear dry, flaky and damage-prone. The average sweet potato contains almost two times the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A.

Filling fiber. Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber — 4 grams in a medium sized sweet potato. Fiber is commonly known to be a valuable component of healthy diet. Fiber is not only filling, it's thought to have health benefits. Fiber has been linked to lowering blood cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Low glycemic index rating. According to WebMD, this rating system is important for anyone controlling his or her blood sugar. Foods that are high on the glycemic index contain a comparatively larger amount of sugar or simple carbohydrates than things that are low on the glycemic index. Sweet potatoes rank the lowest glycemic index rating for root vegetables containing slow-to-break-down good carbohydrates. The rise in blood sugar from this veggie is slow and steady.

Protein in a vegetable? Yes, it's true! According to the USDA, one medium sweet potato boasts about 2.15 grams of protein 4 grams in a cup, according to Self Magazine's Nutrition Data. Protein is a fundamental part of a healthy diet. Protein helps keep you full longer and is essential for building muscle tissue.

More good news. Sweet potatoes also contain loads of vitamin C (29.51 milligrams) that according to the USDA is 35 percent of the recommended daily amount. Calcium is surprisingly high in sweet potatoes (28.6 milligrams). Folate (18.2 mcg), niacin, potassium, copper, vitamin B6 and thiamine are also found in quantity. The Center for the Science in the Public Interest ranked the sweet potato as number one in nutrition of all vegetables — a notable distinction!