Sweet Potato Nutrition
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is an underground tuber. Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many parts of the world. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.
It’s rich in an antioxidant called beta carotene, which is very effective at raising blood levels of vitamin A, particularly in children.
Sweet potatoes are nutritious, high in fiber, very filling, and delicious. They can be eaten boiled, baked, steamed, or fried. Sweet potatoes are usually orange but also found in other colors, such as white, red, pink, violet, yellow, and purple.
In a research it is found that an extract of white skinned sweet potato improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
The fiber in sweet potatoes is also important. Consume more fiber appear to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and constipation.
A 124g serving of mashed sweet potato, or around half a cup, will provide about 2.5 g of fiber.
A 100 g serving of mashed sweet potato contains around 98.7 g of water.
The table below shows the nutrients in sweet potato and the recommended daily intakes for adults. Exact requirements will depend on age, sex.
|Nutrients||Amount / 100g|
|Vitamin C (mg)||17.94|
|Vitamin A (mcg)||896|
|Beta carotene (mcg)||5376|
Sweet potato also contains B vitamins, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. Eating sweet potato skin can increase its nutritional value. The color of the skin can vary from white to yellow and purple to brown.
A medium-sized sweet potato (boiled without the skin) contains 27 grams of carbs. The main components are starches, which make up 53% of the carb content. Simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, and maltose, comprise 32% of the carb content.
Sweet potatoes have a medium to high glycemic index (GI), varying from 44–96. The GI is a measure of how fast your blood sugar levels rise after a meal.
Given the relatively high GI of sweet potatoes, large amounts in a single meal may be unsuitable for people with type 2 diabetes. Notably, boiling seems to be associated with lower GI values than baking, frying, or roasting.
Starches are often split into three categories based on how well they’re digested. The starch proportions in sweet potatoes are as follows:
- Rapidly digested starch (80%). This starch is quickly broken down and absorbed, increasing the GI value.
- Slowly digested starch (9%). This type breaks down more slowly and causes a smaller rise in blood sugar levels.
- Resistant starch (11%). This one escapes digestion and acts like fiber, feeding your friendly gut bacteria. The amount of resistant starch may increase slightly by cooling the sweet potatoes after cooking.
Cooked sweet potatoes are relatively high in fiber, with a medium-sized sweet potato containing 3.8 grams.
The fibers are both soluble (15–23%) in the form of pectin, and insoluble (77–85%) in the form of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
Soluble fibers, such as pectin, may increase fullness, decrease food intake and reduce blood sugar spikes by slowing your digestion of sugars and starches.
A high intake of insoluble fiber is has been associated with health benefits, such as a reduced risk of diabetes and improved gut health.
A medium-sized sweet potato holds 2 grams of protein, making it a poor protein source.
Sweet potatoes contain sporamins, unique proteins that account for more than 80% of their total protein content.
The sporamins are produced to facilitate healing whenever the plant is subjected to physical damage. Recent research suggests that they may have antioxidant properties.
Relatively low in protein ,sweet potatoes are an important source of this macronutrient in many developing countries.
Vitamins and minerals:
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. The most abundant vitamins and minerals in this vegetable are:
- Pro-vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A. Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of this vegetable provides the recommended daily amount of this vitamin.
- Vitamin C. This antioxidant may decrease the duration of common cold and improve skin health.
- Potassium. Important for blood pressure control, this mineral may decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Manganese. This trace mineral is important for growth, development, and metabolism.
- Vitamin B6. This vitamin plays an important role in the conversion of food into energy.
- Vitamin B5. Also known as pantothenic acid, this vitamin is found to some extent in nearly all foods.
- Vitamin E. This powerful fat-soluble antioxidant may help protect your body against oxidative damage.