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Health and Nutritional Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Sweet Potatoes

Latin Name : Ipomea batatas

In India, Sweet Potato is called Shakarkandi.

About Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots that are mostly eaten though sometimes the shoots and young leaves of the plant are also consumed. Sweet potatoes are only remotely related to potatoes which belong to the plant Solanum tuberosum.

The plant grows as a vine while the sweet potato has a smooth skin with tapering ends and variously coloured skins from yellow to orange, red, brown to purple and beige while the flesh colour varies from white, pink, orange, red to beige and purple.

The white or pale coloured fleshed sweet potato is less sweet and drier than the dark-coloured varieties.

Sweet potato is rich in several vitamins & minerals and benefits our health in several ways as listed below.

Shakarkandi (Sweet Potato) Chaat

Nutritional Benefits Of Sweet Potato

Sweet potato has a moderate number of calories, about 90 calories/100 gms. The calories are mainly from starch. It has a higher content of amylose, (rather than amylopectin, which is predominant in potatoes) and therefore raises blood sugar levels SLOWLY.

Sweet potato is free of cholesterol and saturated fats and is a good source of dietary fibre.

It is an excellent source of Vitamin A and beta carotene, heading the list of root vegetables having excellent levels of this vitamin.

Sweet potato is also rich in the B complex vitamins like pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin, and folates.

It contains good levels of the minerals potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese with moderate amounts of calcium and zinc.

Sweet potato leaves are richer in iron, folates, vitamins C & K and potassium than the tuberous root on a weight to weight basis and are lower in sodium.

It has a low glycemic index and low glycemic load of just 17.

Sweet Potato Nutrition Content

 Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), raw, 

 

Nutrition value per 100 g

 

 

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

 

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy

86 Kcal

4%

Carbohydrates

20.12 g

15.50%

Protein

1.6 g

3%

Total Fat

0.05 g

<0.5%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Dietary Fiber

3 g

8%

Vitamins

 

 

Folates

11 mcg

3%

Niacin

0.557 mg

3.50%

Pantothenic acid

0.80 mg

16%

Pyridoxine

0.209 mg

15%

Riboflavin

0.061 mg

5.50%

Thiamin

0.078 mg

6.50%

Vitamin A

14187 IU

473%

Vitamin C

2.4 mg

4%

Vitamin E

0.26 mg

2%

Vitamin K

1.8 mcg

1.50%

Electrolytes

 

 

Sodium

55 mg

3.50%

Potassium

337 mg

7%

Minerals

 

 

Calcium

30 mg

3%

Iron

0.61 mg

7.50%

Magnesium

25 mg

6%

Manganese

0.258 mg

11%

Phosphorus

47 mg

7%

Zinc

0.30 mg

3%

Phyto-nutrients

 

 

Carotene

7 mcg

--

Carotene

8509 mcg

--

Crypto-xanthin

0 mcg

 

Sweet Potato (Shakarkandi) Chaat

Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes (Shakarkandi)

  • Snacking on sweet potato keeps the skin clear, smooth and young due to its high beta carotene content.
  • The high fibre content makes them a slow calorie burner
  • Sweet potatoes are heart-healthy since the high amounts of vitamin B6 they contain help to break down the homocysteine that is responsible for hardening of the arteries and blood vessels. Vitamin B6 helps in keeping them soft and supple.
  • The high potassium content benefits by lowering the blood pressure and maintaining the electrolyte balance, regulating the heartbeat and also is helpful in keeping the brain and central nervous system working normally.
  • Sweet potato protects the skin from the damaging ultraviolet rays and also repair the cell damage caused by them. All this is possible due to the excellent levels of beta carotene/vitamin A. Beta carotene also protects the eyes from macular degeneration and vision loss.
  • Being rich in magnesium, sweet potatoes lower stress levels and consequently aid in relaxation.
  • The iron content helps in maintaining normal haemoglobin levels and healthy energy levels.
  • They provide excellent anti-inflammatory benefits including lowering inflammations of the brain and nerve tissue.
  • The beta-cryptoxanthin content also prevents inflammations of rheumatoid arthritis and significant benefits have been seen to accrue by consuming just 1 serving a day.
  • Sweet potato aids in regulating blood sugar levels due to the vitamin B6 and soluble fibre levels.
  • It prevents constipation, controls acidity and reduces chances of stomach ulcers while also aiding the body to get rid of heavy metals like arsenic and mercury from the digestive tract.
  • Sweet potato is effective in reducing congestion of the nose, bronchi and lungs thus giving relief in asthma and bronchitis.
  • Risks of various types of cancers like those of the prostate, colon, kidneys etc are reduced by the consumption of sweet potato.
  • It helps in weight gain as it is easy to digest and contain a range of vitamins and minerals and provide a lot of energy.
  • Sweet potato is wonderful for boosting immunity levels as it has a number of antioxidant vitamins and beta carotene.

Names For Sweet Potato In Other Countries

Sweet potato is known by a variety of names like:

  • Camote(Kamote) - Philippines/Peru
  • Goguma - Korea
  • Man Thet - Thailand
  • Satsuma - Japan
  • Batata - Egypt/Spain/Mexico
  • Boniato - Spain/Mexico
  • Ubi Jalar - Indonesia
  • Bathala - Sri Lanka
  • Kumara - Polynesia
  • Cilera Abama -Eastern Africa
  • Fan Shu - China
  • Kumala - Fiji
  • Keledek - Malaysia

More About Sweet Potato

Sweet potato probably originated in Central or South America, somewhere between 5000 - 10000 years ago. Today, it is cultivated in all warm and tropical regions worldwide, wherever there is enough water. It grows best in abundant sunshine and warm night temperatures. The plant does not tolerate frost.

Sweet potato can even grow in poor soil, is very resistant to pests and rarely needs pesticide sprays. However, it is extremely sensitive to aluminium toxicity and needs application of lime at planting time in poor soils.

Uses Of Sweet Potato

The tuberous roots are mostly eaten. In some areas, however, the shoots and leaves are also consumed as a vegetable.

Some non-culinary uses of sweet potato include :

  • Making dyes for dyeing cloth.
  • As an animal fodder.
  • As ornamental plants in gardens. When grown in home aquariums, it removes toxic wastes like ammonia and nitrates that the fish produce, thus improving the water quality and improving the living conditions for these aquatic creatures. Fish find the well spread out roots a good habitation space.

Difference Between Sweet Potatoes And Yams

Sweet potatoes are from the morning glory family. The seed has 2 cotyledons. Botanically, they belong to the family Convolvulaceae and are native to South and Central America.

Yams are closely related to the lilies and grasses. Botanically, they belong to the family Dioscoreaceae. The seed has a single cotyledon. They are native to Africa and Asia.

Useful Information About Sweet Potatoes

Consume about 1 tbsp of oil like olive oil, which provides about 3.5 gms fat, along with sweet potatoes to significantly increase the absorption of beta carotene. Research has shown that about 3 to 5 gms of fat aids in maximizing the beta carotene absorption from sweet potatoes.

Steaming and boiling sweet potatoes afford the maximum nutritional benefits. Also, boiling lowers the glycemic index which leads to better management of blood sugar levels.

Steaming for only 2 minutes deactivates the enzymes that would have otherwise broken down the anthocyanins and caused a loss in their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Steaming for 7 minutes maximizes their nutritional value and flavour.

Facts About Sweet Potatoes

Read some interesting facts about sweet potato below:

  1. Vardaman, Mississippi is known as the sweet potato capital. Every November it holds the National Sweet Potato Festival.
  2. In the United States, yams are also required to be labelled as sweet potatoes.
  3. In Taiwan, a type of fuel is made from sweet potatoes.
  4. Although sweet potato has potato in its name, it is hardly related to the common potato.
  5. When sweet potato goes bad the flavour will be reflected in the entire sweet potato. It is of no use slicing off the bad portion.
  6. It is the official vegetable for North Carolina.
  7. Sweet potato can be eaten steamed, boiled, baked, microwaved, fried, boiled, juiced, pureed and even raw.

References

  • http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/281438.php
  • Mohanraj R, et al. Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam) - A Valuable Medicinal Food: A Review. J Med Food. 2014 Jun 12.
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64
  • Mayo Clinic. Glycemic index diet: What's behind the claims
  • http://www.livescience.com/46016-sweet-potato-nutrition.html
  • Li PG, et al. Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jun 7;19(21):3300-8.
  • Cho J, et al. Antioxidant and memory-enhancing effects of purple sweet potato anthocyanin and Cordyceps mushroom extract. Arch Pharm Res. 2003;26(10):821–825.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 05, 2018:

Sweet potatoes are very healthy indeed. I'm happy you like these healthy food articles. Thank you, Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2018:

You have listed so many good reasons to be consuming sweet potatoes. Will pin this to my health board. I loved the photos of the sweet potatoes grown in Hawaii. They are a beautiful plant. I never knew that sweet potatoes were used as a plant in aquariums. You always give us so much great information in your posts. Thank you!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 09, 2013:

Thanks, shin rock.

shin_rocka04 from Maryland on February 09, 2013:

Awesome post, man. I love sweet potatoes. Good to see they are very nutritious, too. Voted up!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 29, 2013:

Hi Christy,

Glad to see you again and I'm glad you are motivated to try them. Thanks.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on January 27, 2013:

Happy to give 5 stars and a vote up for this hub Rajan! Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and low calorie - great to know. I generally do not buy them but your hub is making me think I should start doing so. Thank-you.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 26, 2013:

Christine, I'm glad you find this information motivating enough to eat more of this healthy vegetable.

Thanks for stopping by.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 26, 2013:

@ Lady Guinevere - I'm glad you like the info. As far back as I can remember I always had sweet potatoes as a kid, boiled or baked. I too love them. I'm sorry I was away on a holiday for a few days hence the delay in replying but I did get both your comments.

Appreciate your sparing time to read and comment. Also for sharing. Thanks.

@ ib - coconut oil though has saturated fats is comprised of healthy saturated fats more than half of them being lauric acid that along with the fats being medium chain fatty acids, give coconut oil its many amazing health benefits. Also2/3 of these fats are more stable to heat as compared to the mono saturated fats in olive oil.

Thanks

@ GTF - Thanks for appreciating and being a regular supporter of my hubs. Thanks also for sharing this one.

@ Mary - thanks to you too for being a regular supporter of my health hubs. Much appreciated and thanks for sharing too.

@ Arun - appreciate your reading and sharing your views. Thanks.

@ ps - thanks for all the kind words. Appreciate the visit and sharing.

Gypsy48 on January 26, 2013:

Very informative hub. I didn't realize just how healthful sweet potatoes are for us. I like baked sweet potato fries, will have to eat more of them.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 26, 2013:

Oh, rajan jolly, you have done such a lovely job of giving us information on the sweet potato. It is one of my favorite foods. One reason it is a favorite is because in addition to being healthful it is so versatile. There are so many ways to prepare it that it is a great food to serve to complement many other foods.

Sharing.

Sending you Angels this morning....:) ps

Debra Allen from West By God on January 25, 2013:

Oh wow my post vanished. It was like the 1,2 or 3rd post. Anyway I loved it and didn't know that the darker the potato the sweeter it is. I voted it up and useful and shared it too.

Manuel E. Vieira on January 24, 2013:

A.V. Thomas Produce - Organic and conventional,

Livingston, CA. Sweet Potatoes/Yams - Our Pride & Passion for over 52 years.

ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE from KOLKATA on January 23, 2013:

Although it is sometimes called a yam in North America, the sweet potato does not belong to the yam family, it is not closely related to the common potato either. But I wonder why it is not as much popular as the common potato! Thank you for sharing such vital information.

Mary Craig from New York on January 23, 2013:

Rajan, you continue to outdo yourself. I start reading thinking I know everything about sweet potatoes but as usual, you teach me I do not! How wonderful and beneficial your hubs are ....thank you for trying to keep us healthy.

Voted up, useful interesting, shared ...would have pinned but there is no pin button.

Claudia Mitchell on January 23, 2013:

Sweet potatoes are the best and add some great color to a dinner plate. I always love reading your hubs to find out that some of the things I like to eat are healthy too. Shared.

ib radmasters from Southern California on January 21, 2013:

rajan

Thanks for your answer

ib - I would have preferred coconut oil rather than olive oil if oil needed to be heated. It's safer and healthier. Appreciate the read and concern.

What temperature would you use to bake with either coconut oil or olive oil? And a lot of cooking uses olive oil.

Debra Allen from West By God on January 21, 2013:

Wow that is a lot of useful information there. I love sweet potatoes. I usually buy them from the Farm Market and then take them home cut them up and freeze them for later use. I didn't know they were that good for the skin. I think I will be eating more of them. I also didn't know that the darker color is sweeter. Now to find those and I will be set. Thanks for this very informative article! I rate it up and will share it.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 21, 2013:

@ Au fait - Hope you try out the sweet potato pancake recipe. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

@ Rebecca - Yams are much larger than sweet potatoes as well as they have a thicker skin. I hope the differentiation is clearer. Hope you too try the pancakes too. Thanks for voting and reading.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 21, 2013:

Thanks, rajan. I always thought sweet potatoes and yams were the same thing. I love sweet potatoes, yams too, I suppose. I make sweet potato fries frequently. I must try the pancakes. Rated 5 stars.

C E Clark from North Texas on January 21, 2013:

I've been wanting to include more sweet potatoes in my diet for a long time having heard over and over again the health benefits. Your recipe for sweet potato pancakes is very tempting.

Voted up, interesting, useful, gave you 5 stars, and will share!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 20, 2013:

@ Paul - thanks for sharing this info about sweet potatoes. Thanks also for stopping by to read and share.,

@ Wilbart - I hope you start consuming this healthy vegetable. Thanks.

@ Rasma - thanks for visiting and glad to see you. appreciate the sharing.

@ Qudsia - thank you.

@ Deborah - you are quite knowledgeable about health and healthy foods. Thanks for stopping by.

@ ib - I would have preferred coconut oil rather than olive oil if oil needed to be heated. It's safer and healthier. Appreciate the read and concern. Thanks.

@ Aurelio - thanks for stopping by.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 20, 2013:

I like these because they're yummy. But I note that sweet potato fries have fewer calories generally than equal regular french fries. Do you know why that's true? Voting this Up and Useful.

ib radmasters from Southern California on January 20, 2013:

rajan jolly

Rated this hub up, interesting, awesome and useful

I just had home made sweet potato fries, they taste great and I hope that baking with some olive oil didn't reduce the good stuff.

Thanks

Deborah from Las Vegas on January 20, 2013:

Hello Rajan! Another wonderful hub about our health and our power to stay healthy with good choices and the power of knowledge! When I'm feeling a little "blue," I always eat a sweet potato with dinner and fuel my "good brain" chemicals with a little "serotonin." Great hub Rajan, voted up and booked!!!

QudsiaP1 on January 20, 2013:

I knew I loved sweet potatoes for a reason. :P

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on January 20, 2013:

Voted up and interesting. Love sweet potatoes but we can't always get them here and if we do they are not good quality. However I will keep a look out for them at market because I haven't had them for a long time now and you got me hungry. Great info and passing this on.

Wilbart26 on January 19, 2013:

I never tried sweet potatoes in my whole life... I guess it's a sad part for me, however, it's not yet late, I better look for one later and eat a bunch of sweet potatoes... This hub is very informative. Thanks for sharing. keep us educated.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on January 19, 2013:

rajanjolly,

This is a very useful and interesting hub about sweet potatoes. Thank you for clarifying the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. I originally thought they were both basically the same. I never ate sweet potatoes much as a kid, but after I moved to Taiwan in the 70s I started to eat yams which I could buy on the street. They were roasted over coals and absolutely delicious. In the Taiwanese dialect of Chinese they were called "hanji". Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 19, 2013:

@ Dan - thanks for stopping by.

@ teaches - glad you find the hub informative and useful. Thanks.

@ Devika - wonderful to know that you do raise them so you can have them at a moment's notice. Appreciate your visit and comments. Thanks.

@ Carol - good to see you motivated enough to try them out after reading the hub. Thanks for reading and sharing.

@ shining - appreciate your visit and hope you keep consuming and using this useful vegetable. Thanks.

@ Thelma - feels nice to be appreciated and good to know you use this healthy vegetable. Thanks for the visit and share.

@ Keala - am humbled by your compliments. Thanks for your input and it is a fact that the earlier generation did know all about eating nutritionally healthy food. Thanks for the share and sharing.

@ Stephanie - thanks for sharing this interesting input and appreciate your visit and share.

@ MyMastiffPuppies - glad this hub inspired you to try out the various varieties of sweet potatoes. Thanks for stopping by.

@ Bill - I've slowly come to know what my friend likes! haha! Thanks for the visit buddy.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 19, 2013:

Happily this is one food we eat a great deal of. I love sweet potato fries. Thank you for the information; it makes me feel better knowing that something I love to eat is also healthy for me.

Well done Rajan!

MyMastiffPuppies on January 19, 2013:

Great hub on Sweet potatoes! As a family we have tried to incorporate more sweet potatoes into our regular meals so always looking for new ideas. Love all the various colors, have not tried them yet but now I am inspired!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on January 19, 2013:

Sweet potatoes are a favorite vegetable of my husband and myself. Though I like to make candied sweet potatoes (not very diet friendly!) at Thanksgiving, we also like them just baked in their skins. Thanks for the great nutritional information...it's good to know that they are so good for us! Voted up and shared!

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on January 19, 2013:

Professionally researched, written, and presented, with great complementary photo and video media! Rajan, as we say in America--You Da Man! Reading this hub brought back memories of my father growing sweet potatoes and other vegetables in the somewhat sandy soil (because our home was just a few hundred yards away from the ocean). Yes, we DID eat the shoots as well. My mother made a miso (soy paste) sauce, and we ate the shoots like a salad. Sweet potatoes are very tasty, and now I know that they're very nutritious as well. Thank you for ever reminding me that the diet of the islands was jam-packed with nutritional goodness. Voted up and more and sharing!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on January 19, 2013:

Wow! I did not know that this favorite food of mine has a lot of health benefits. I love eating sweet potato leaves salad as well. Thanks for sharing rajan. This is a very informative hub. Voted up and shared. Happy weekend!

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on January 19, 2013:

Rajan - There was a time when I was not so fond of sweet potatoes. Then my Dad tried a new recipe on me and I was in heaven!!!

I have now acquired quite an affinity for sweet potatoes and am thrilled to know one of my favorite choices is equally beneficial for me.

I found the non-edible uses of sweet potatoes fascinating as well.

Voting up

carol stanley from Arizona on January 19, 2013:

I look at the sweet potatoes every time I am in the grocery store. They are not big favorites with us, but I am thinking of baking them like french fries...Thanks for all the useful information and I am spirited on to try the potatoes. Voting up+++and pinning.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 19, 2013:

Sweet potatoes are my best choice, we planted for the first in Croatia and had a more than we had expected. Simple the best and you have a well researched Hub on the topic, really am amazed. Very tasty potato with many benefits glad you wrote about it and Voted up!

Dianna Mendez on January 19, 2013:

I am Spanish and just learned they are called boniato! These are loaded with great health benefits and I especially love that they help with asthma.

Dan Barfield from Gloucestershire, England, UK on January 19, 2013:

I love sweet potato but never seem to have enough recipes that use it well! This hub has made me hungry! I'm going in hunt of recipes and sweet potatoes now...