The Sweet Facts About Sweet Potatoes

By: Talia Bondelli, DTR

Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

What does it mean to eat the rainbow? Eating the rainbow signifies eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.1 All of the colors of fruits and vegetables have different health benefits that may reduce your risk of diseases.Sweet potatoes have a deep orange color, which is the pigment called beta-carotene.3 They are very nutritious and they are also fat free, which means they also have no saturated fat or trans-fat.4 Furthermore, they are low in calories and sodium, with about 100 calories and 70 milligrams of sodium for one medium sweet potato.4 Sweet potatoes can definitely sweeten up your life, and in a healthy way!

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Vitamin C

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, which is necessary for healthy skin, fighting infections, and wound healing.5,6,7 It also helps our body absorb iron, which is important if you’re anemic.8 It is recommended to eat Vitamin C rich foods with iron rich foods like beans, lentils, chicken, or dark leafy greens.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for good vision and preventing infections.9,10 Beta-carotene is deep orange pigment found in vegetables and fruits, which our bodies turn into vitamin A.11,12 

Fiber

It is recommended to have 25 grams of fiber a day in order to be healthy based on a 2,000 calorie diet.13 A medium sweet potato can help you meet your needs as it has about 3.8 grams!14 Fiber is part of our food that we can’t digest and can help with constipation.15 Fiber can also reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol.16

Potassium

Potassium is another mineral that can be found in sweet potatoes.4 This mineral is important because it works in balance with sodium to maintain blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.17  You may need to limit your potassium if you have kidney problems, but be sure to check with your doctor.

Magnesium

A sweet potato is a great source of magnesium.2 Magnesium is known to calm the brain.18 Magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression, mood disturbances, and headaches. 19

An added bonus is that sweet potatoes will stay fresh for 3-5 weeks as long as you store them in a dark, cool place, such as your kitchen pantry.4 Remember to always talk to your doctor before implementing something new in your diet if you have any health problems.

My Favorite Sweet Potato Recipe:
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Author: Tyler Florence20                             

Ingredients:

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling potatoes after cooked
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. Stir until well combined.
  3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
  4. Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.

Want more sweet potato recipes? Check out our Sweet Potato Chicken Quesadilla video on our YouTube channel.

References

  1. Eat a Colorful Variety Every Day. Fruits and Veggies More Matters. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/eat-a-colorful-variety-of-fruits-and-vegetables
  2. Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition. Fruits and Veggies More Matters. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/fruit-veggie-nutrition
  3. Bogacz-Radomska, L., Harasym, J. β-Carotene—properties and production methods, Food Quality and Safety. 2018; 2(2):69-74.  
  4. Sweet Potato: Nutrition, Selection, Storage. Fruits and Veggies More Matters. Retrieved February 16, 2019, from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/sweet-potato
  5. Pullar, J., Carr, A., & Vissers, M. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017; 9(8).
  6. Pavlovic, V., & Sarac, M.  A short overview of vitamin C and selected cells of the immune system. Central European Journal of Medicine. 2011; 6(1):1-10.
  7. Lanman T., & Ingalls T. VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY AND WOUND HEALING: AN EXPERIMENTAL AND CLINICAL STUDY. Ann Surg. 1937;105(4):616-25.
  8. Scheers, N., & Sandberg, A. Iron regulates the uptake of ascorbic acid and the expression of sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter 1 (SVCT1) in human intestinal Caco-2 cells. British Journal of Nutrition. 2011; 105(12):1734-1740.
  9. Semba, R. Vitamin A and immunity to viral, bacterial and protozoan infections. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 1999; 58(3): 719-727.
  10. Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ. Nutrients for the aging eye. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:741-8.
  11. Grune T, Lietz G, Palou A, et al. Beta-carotene is an important vitamin A source for humans. J Nutr. 2010; 140(12):2268S-2285S.
  12. Tang G. Bioconversion of dietary provitamin A carotenoids to vitamin A in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010; 91(5):1468S-1473S.
  13. Food and Drug Administration. Dietary Fiber. Retrieved February 16, 2019, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/dietary-fiber.html
  14. U.S Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from http://www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata.
  15. Yang, J., Wang, H., Zhou, L., & Xu, C. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2012; 18(48):7378-73783.
  16. New study finds plant protein, fiber, nuts lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure. Heart Disease Weekly. 2018; 48.
  17. Michaelevski, I., & Lotan, I. Role of neuronal potassium M‐channels in sympathetic regulation of cardiac function. Journal of Physiology. 2001; 589(11):2659-2660.
  18. Murck, H. Magnesium and affective disorders. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2002; 5(6): 375-389.
  19. Sartori, S. B., Whittle, N., & Hetzenauer, A. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and hpa axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology. 2012; 62(1):304-312.
  20. Florence, T. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon. Retrieved February 10, 2019, from https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-butter-recipe-1946538

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