Are sweet potatoes healthy? Yes, they absolutely are! You’ll learn all about how sweet potatoes reduce the chances of heart disease, regulate blood pressure, are full of antioxidants to protect against free radicals, and more. You’ll also find the best ways to enjoy these benefits with delicious recipes and cooking methods, making it a breeze to incorporate these amazing root vegetables into your daily diet!
What’s the difference between regular potatoes and sweet potatoes?
Regular potatoes (or white potatoes) and sweet potatoes have different colored flesh: regular potatoes are typically white on the inside, while sweet potatoes are orange and even red and purple.
They only have a few slight differences when it boils down to nutritional value. There is only about a 15 calorie difference between the two, with the regular potatoes being higher in calories.
Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber than regular potatoes. While sweet potatoes technically have more sugar than regular potatoes, they both have around the same amount of carbohydrates, meaning they will be metabolized in the same way.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Value
One cup of sweet potato (including skin) provides:
|Sweet Potato Nutrition||1 Cup|
While the amount of sugar is almost the same amount of fiber, it’s important to remember that the complex carbohydrates that sweet potatoes contain are digested gradually which assists in heart health (we’ll talk more about that later). Complex carbohydrates retain their natural fiber and literally fuel your body with the energy it needs to function on a daily basis.
Side note: Sweet potatoes should be avoided by those who are strictly on a low fiber diet, or if they have a history of a health condition like consistent kidney stones.
So, are sweet potatoes healthy?
Yes, sweet potatoes are healthy. They promote healthy hearts, eyes, and guts, just to name a few. Sweet potatoes can easily be incorporated into any meal in a variety of forms to better your overall health. With a little bit of olive oil and a variety of cooking methods, you can turn any sweet potato into a yummy side dish.
Additionally, because sweet potatoes contain high amounts of fiber and water, they have a lower glycemic index which has little effect on blood sugar levels.
(If this post has you needing a sweet potato in your life ASAP, check out How to Microwave a Sweet Potato for a quick dinner or on-the-go snack.)
Why are sweet potatoes good for you?
Let’s dive deep into 8 health benefits of sweet potatoes:
Regulate Blood Pressure
Because sweet potatoes are considered potassium-rich foods, incorporating them into your diet will help regulate your blood pressure, decreasing the chance of heart disease. How? Potassium has a balancing effect on your sodium levels. When you have more potassium in your system, it flushes out the correct amount of sodium in your body to keep it in check.
Boosts Immune System
Sweet potatoes can really boost your immune function. They have many vitamins, including vitamin C and vitamin A. Vitamin C helps fight against infections and sicknesses and vitamin A increases cell supply to aid tissue layers and protect against infection. These vitamins, along with vitamin B, have great antioxidant properties to assist your body in regulating proper health.
Promotes Weight Loss
Eating sweet potatoes help maintain a healthy weight because they keep you fuller for longer, meaning you’re less likely to eat more than you need to. Now, eating less does not mean that you’ll lose weight. More simply, if you eat more nutrient-dense foods (as opposed to foods with fewer nutrients), you’ll be getting all the nutrition you need to be at a healthy weight and satisfy your appetite.
What you add to your sweet potato matters! If you overload them with brown sugar or high-sugared condiments, you won’t see the results you’d like. Choosing to pair sweet potatoes with just a few seasonings and some fat will help with overall weight management.
Promotes Eye Health
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes contain beta carotene, a provitamin that protects eyes and assists in fighting inflammation. Our bodies use it to create vitamin A, which has been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration that causes vision loss in the retina. Furthermore, incorporating sweet potatoes in children’s diets can fight childhood blindness.
High in Fiber
Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber, benefitting many aspects of our health. For example, the amount of fiber in a sweet potato can lower cholesterol and balance glucose.
Additionally, the fiber can also help keep bowels healthy and functioning regularly. Eating just 1 cup of sweet potatoes daily is almost half of the recommended daily intake.
Promotes Gut Health
Sweet potatoes are one of the best ways to ensure a healthy gut—more specifically, for the good bacteria in your gut microbiome because of the starch sweet potatoes contain. Having a healthy digestive tract may lower the risk of diabetes, lessen inflammation, reduce appetite, and lower blood sugar.
Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
Sweet potatoes also improve insulin sensitivity because they are higher in sugar. That helps in maintaining blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol, which is so important, especially for people who have diabetes. Furthermore, the fiber in the sweet potato slows down the digestion and complex carbohydrate absorption which reduces any kind of blood sugar spike.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Manganese is very present in sweet potatoes, and is a collagen-producing mineral. Collagen improves hydration in the skin AND improving skin elasticity.
How to incorporate sweet potatoes in your diet?
Sweet potatoes can easily be incorporated in any vegetable hash (try this Sweet Potato Hash) as a side dish to a dinner, or paired with scrambled eggs (like in this Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole) in the morning. Another healthy way to eat sweet potatoes is to keep the skin on by eating it baked with your favorite toppings like sour cream (for savory) or maple syrup (for sweet). Also, sweet potato French fries are always a good idea with just a little bit of butter and salt and pepper.
The Best Sweet Potato Recipes
Check out our Recipe Roundup 25+ Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes for classic, fun sweet potato dishes you can make right at home! Here are some more favorites to try: