If you’re looking for a healthy carbohydrate to add to your diet, look no further than the sweet potato. Not only are they sweet and delicious, but they also are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Sweet potato nutrients include fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and more. Thanks to these nutrients, sweet potato benefits include the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels, boost brain function, support vision health, aid in weight loss, and give the immune system a natural boost.
You get the idea. This is one sweet spud!
Sweet Potato Benefits
1. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
OK – so you may not think a high-carb food like sweet potatoes would naturally stabilize blood sugar levels, making them a great addition to a diabetic diet. In fact, sweet potatoes have been studied extensively for their anti-diabetic properties. For example, one study showed that sweet potato consumption can help improve high blood sugar levels. Also, the fiber sweet potatoes contain works to prevent dips and spikes in blood sugar levels. (1)
2. Provides the Body with Antioxidants
Next, sweet potato benefits include the ability to provide the body with powerful antioxidants. As you may know, antioxidants work to protect the body from free radical damage, so sweet potatoes benefits include protection from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. And do you see that orange color? That’s beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that promotes healthy vision. Studies have shown that purple sweet potatoes, in particular, contain the highest amount of antioxidants. (2)
3. Boosts Brain Function
Also thanks to the antioxidants they contain, sweet potato benefits include the ability to boost brain health. A 2010 animal study found that purple sweet potato extract helped protect the brain against aging. The study also found that purple sweet potato nutrition helped to improve spatial learning and memory ability. Research suggests that sweet potato benefits include the ability to prevent oxidative damage in the brain, improve memory an enhance cognitive performance. (3)
4. Enhances Immunity
As with most plant foods, raw is better. For example, an internet search for sweet potatoes shows that one serving offers about 375% of your daily Vitamin A intake. Wow! But we don’t tend to eat these sweet spuds raw. So how about cooked? Still, a cooked sweet potato has more than your full daily requirement of Vitamin A. Because Vitamin A plays an important role in helping the immune system fight off diseases and infections, sweet potato benefits include the ability to naturally boost the immune system and kill off harmful cells. (4)
5. Promotes Vision Health
When you think about vegetables that support eye health, you may think carrots. Well, sweet potatoes share that lovely orange color and the nutrients that comes with it. The Vitamin A and beta-carotene in sweet potatoes work to maintain healthy vision. A Vitamin A deficiency is linked to dry eyes, night blindness, and even vision loss. Beta-carotene is known to help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration to prevent vision loss. (5)
6. Aids in Weight Loss
Sweet potato benefits include the ability to aid in weight loss, thanks to the many nutrients it contains. Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, which helps promote a feeling of fullness to reduce snacking and overeating. Studies suggest that adding sweet potatoes to a healthy, nutrient-dense diet can help boost weight loss. (6)
Sweet Potato vs. Yams
If you’ve ever confused yams with sweet potatoes, you’re not the only one. The two look and taste similar, but they have some slight differences. Sweet potatoes are believed to have originated in Central and South America, while yams are native to Africa and Asia. Sweet potatoes have smoother skin and tapered ends. They can be white, orange or purple. Yams have rough skin and taste slightly more dry, instead of sweet. Sweet potatoes also finish first when it comes to the most nutrient-dense of the two!