Nutritional Benefits and Health Benefits of 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 colored skins from yellow to range, red, brown to purple and beige while the flesh color varies from white, pink, orange, red to beige and purple.
The white or pale colored fleshed sweet potato is less sweet and drier than the dark colored varieties.
Sweet potato is rich in several vitamins & minerals and benefits our health in several ways as listed below.
Nutritional Benefits Of Sweet Potato
Sweet potato has 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 ca good source of dietary fiber.
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 Bcomplex 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, floates, 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)
Percentage of RDA
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 fiber content makes them a slow calorie burner
- Sweet potatoes are heart healthy since the high amounts of vitamin B6 they contain 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 heart beat and also is helpful in keeping the brain and central nervous system working normally.
- Sweet potato protects the skin from the damaging ultra violet 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 hemoglobin 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 slouble fiber levels.
- It prevents constipation, controls acidity and reduces chances of stomach ulcers while also aiding the body get rid of heavy metals like arsenic and mercury from the digestive tract.
- Sweet potato is effective in reducing congestion of the nose, bronchii and lungs thus giving relief in asthma and bronchitis.
- Risks of various types of cancers like those of the prostrate, 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 anti oxidant vitamins and beta carotene.
- Mohanraj R, et al. Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam) - A Valuable Medicinal Food: A Review. J Med Food. 2014 Jun 12.
- Mayo Clinic. Glycemic index diet: What's behind the claims
- 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.
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.
Varieties Of Sweet Potato PlantsClick thumbnail to view full-size
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. 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.
Variously Colored Sweet PotatoesClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 flavor.
Facts About Sweet Potatoes
Read some interesting facts about sweet potato below:
- Vardaman, Missisippi is known as the sweet potato capital. Every November it holds the National Sweet Potato Festival.
- In the United States, yams are also required to be labelled as sweet potatoes.
- In Taiwan, a type of fuel is made from sweet potatoes.
- Although sweet potato has potato in its name, it is hardly related to the common potato.
- When sweet potato goes bad the flavor will be reflected in the entire sweet potato. It is of no use slicing off the bad portion.
- It is the official vegetable for North Carolina.
- Sweet potato can be eaten steamed, boiled, baked, microwaved, fried, boiled, juiced, pureed and even raw.
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.
Sweet Potato, Yam & Potato Chaat
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly