Sweet Potatoes: Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts

At this current point in time, sweet potatoes are very much ‘in vogue’. That is to say, that they are highly popular among a number of health bloggers and other online health gurus and have seen a big boost in sales as a result. Hipsters like sweet potatoes, just as they like quinoa and coconut oil.

But are they worth all the hype? And how are they any different from regular potatoes?

Why Hipsters Love Sweet Potatoes

The reason sweet potatoes are so popular, is that they fall perfectly into the low car/paleo diet mindset. As you’re probably aware if you read a lot of health news, saturated fat is no longer the enemy that it was once meant to be and is now in fact hailed as being very healthy for our testosterone levels, our brains and our energy levels.

The ‘enemy’ as it happens, turned out to be sugar all along and carbohydrates by extension. Sugar is accused of causing inflammation and other damage, as well as spiking the blood sugar and thus causing fat storage (lipogenesis) and hunger pangs. Carbohydrates contain fewer calories than saturated fats (4 per gram as opposed to 9 per gram) but they’re also much slower to release those calories into the bloodstream. This means that your sugar doesn’t get ‘spiked’ and as a result, your body doesn’t respond with the same rush of insulin that sugar can cause.

Of course, sweet potatoes are a form of carbohydrate just like regular potatoes. The difference though, is that they have a considerably lower glycemic index. This means that the sugar is still absorbed more slowly, which is partly due to a greater amount of fiber. The result is that you can eat sweet potatoes for a much more gradual and steady release of energy throughout the day, rather than a sudden rush that can cause snacking behavior not to mention directly influencing fat storage.

There are other complex carbs with low glycemic indexes too. What makes sweet potatoes so useful though, is that they can be used in the place of regular potatoes. This makes them a good choice for padding out a meal like a stew, or for having alongside a portion of meat. This adheres to Tim Ferriss’ famous ‘slow carb diet’ and a lot of similar diets that revolve around keeping the blood sugar lower.

Nutritional Benefit

On top of these trendy benefits, sweet potatoes also have the appeal of containing a variety of nutrients that aren’t present in regular potatoes. These include a particularly large quantity of beta carotene (which is converted vitamin A). One sweet potato should provide around 35%-90% of your vitamin A requirements.

Beta-carotene is also an effective antioxidant and also helps with eye health and possibly cellular energy (1). Including a little fat in your diet can aid with absorption of beta carotene and thereby help you to get even more benefit from the potatoes.

As well as beta-carotene, new potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, panthothenic acid, vitamin B6 and biotin. These provide a wide variety of additional health benefits that you just wouldn’t get from regular white potatoes.

Purple Sweet Potatoes…

Normally, sweet potatoes will be a bold orange in color – which is the result of the beta carotenes. However, in some rarer cases, these potatoes may actually be a purple color inside. This is due to a genetic mutation affecting the genes ibMYB1 and ibMYB2 (oh, those genes…) which produces purple anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanin is actually a very powerful antioxidant and also has numerous other benefits including numerous benefits for the immune system and circulation. This is a nice ‘added bonus’ to what is already a very nutritious ingredient.

Conclusion

In conclusion then, sweet potatoes may provide a slower release of sugar and may help to sustain you for longer while preventing fat storage – though that all depends on which diet beliefs you happen to subscribe to. Either way though, they are a very nutritious alternative to white potatoes so there’s really no downside. An easy diet change to make that can offer impressive advantages.



1 Comment

  1. Is lovely and very good!

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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

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