Sweet potatoes are not only delicious but also rich in many vitamins and minerals (1). There are many varieties of this potato, each having a different composition of nutrients. These can be identified by the color of the potatoes as they are available in the colors like red, yellow, purple, brown, white, and orange, etc. (2).
This root vegetable is a rich source of fiber, carbs, protein, minerals, vitamins, etc. Owing to the presence of so many essential components, it helps eliminate many diseases and fight many disorders like diabetes, various types of cancer, etc., (5, 6, 7). Let’s have a look at what this tuber has to offer.
Sweet Potato Nutritional Facts
The amount of water in these potatoes is about 77%; protein is 1.6%, 3% fiber and carbohydrates are about 20% (10).
These potatoes are also a good source of protein and natural sugar (12).
It has been proven by the studies that due to the high nutritional value of sweet potatoes, they possess lots of medicinal qualities (14).
Vitamins and Minerals in Sweet Potato
These potatoes have a good amount of vitamin A, especially the orange sweet potatoes (15, 16). Vitamin A or retinol is a fat-soluble vitamin, required for good vision and maintaining the overall health of the eyes as well as the functioning of the cornea (17). Apart from it, the vitamin keeps a check on the health of lungs, kidney, heart, and plays a role in fortifying cell functions, bone growth, and immune system (18, 19).
The main sources of B vitamins are meat and other non-veg products. Sweet potatoes also have sufficient amount of this vitamin (20). The leaves of sweet potato contain vitamin B and can be used in food preparations (21).
- Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin B6, which is required to fight depression, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. (22, 23).
- These are also rich in pentanoic acid and biotin, which are required to break down the food and use it for growth. The pentanoic acid also helps produce hormones (24, 25).
- These tubers are also rich in niacin, a kind of B vitamin, deficiency of which can cause indigestion, canker sore, vomiting, etc. (26, 27).
Another important vitamin, i.e., vitamin C, is found in enough amount in sweet potatoes (28). This vitamin shows antioxidant properties and plays a role in collagen synthesis. It protects the damage caused due to free radicals and reactive oxygen species (29). Studies have shown that vitamin C reduces the risk of heart stroke and helps people suffering from high blood pressure (30). Moreover, some researches claim that this vitamin reduces the chances of oral, colon, lung, and prostate cancer (31).
Sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of vitamin E, deficiency of which causes genetic disorders, impaired balance, muscle weakness, etc. (32, 33). It is required to fight pathogens like bacteria and viruses (34). It preserves cell membrane and prevents the damage caused due to oxidative stress (35).
It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is mainly found in food and is present in some parts of the body as well (37). This vitamin plays an important role in blood clotting in the body (38). It is also required to strengthen the bones of elderly (39). Since the potato tubers are enriched with this vitamin, they can help in the synthesis of protein in the case of hemostasis (40, 41).
Sodium is the component that is needed in a small amount. It is basically required to relax and contract muscles, maintain the balance of water and minerals, and to conduct nerve impulse (42). If the amount of sodium in the body is not accurate, it can cause trouble and may be harmful. For maintaining the balance, one must eat food that is low in sodium (43). Since sweet potatoes contain an adequate amount of sodium, they keep a check on the diseases which are caused due to the low level of sodium like Orthostatic Hypotension (44, 45).
Potassium is found in abundance in sweet potatoes and is required for proper working of the nerves and muscles (46). 1 medium-sized sweet potato contains 694mg of potassium, which is highest among all (47). Potassium, when consumed through diet, is beneficial for bones and keeps a check on blood pressure as well (48).
Our body requires some micronutrients for proper functioning. One such micronutrient is iron, which is needed for growth and development of the body and production of hemoglobin (49). It is present in a good amount in sweet potatoes (50). Therefore, consumption of sweet potatoes reduces iron deficiency (51).
Manganese is another vital mineral that our body needs. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of manganese. It is important that our body has the right amount of manganese as its deficiency can lead to infertility, weakness, bone malformation, etc. (53).
Our body needs calcium for several reasons. Calcium helps clot blood, maintains the heartbeat, aids in expansion and contraction of muscles, releases hormones, and strengthens teeth and bones. Sweet potatoes are a good source of calcium (54), and thus, they can eliminate the problems caused due to calcium deficiency.
Our body needs copper to aid the process of absorption of iron. It also works in combination with iron for the formation of red blood cells (55).
Sweet potatoes have sufficient amount of copper; and hence, their consumption can improve the overall health of the body (56).
Zinc is one of the vital nutrients that our body requires. The deficiency of this mineral can cause depression, anorexia, psychosis, diarrhea, etc. Sweet potatoes have a moderate amount of zinc; and therefore, it can provide relief in these disorders (57).
Other Components and Properties
The leaves of sweet potatoes are also rich in many nutrients and bioactive compounds. Consumption of the leaves has shown positive results in cardiovascular diseases, immune system functioning, free radical damage, etc., (59).
The beta-carotene in the fruit is mainly responsible for the presence of vitamin A, and since, sweet potatoes are enriched with this compound, they eliminate the retinol deficiency in children (60, 61). It also helps with heart diseases and lung cancer.
Sweet Potato or Regular Potato
As already mentioned, sweet potatoes are different from regular potatoes. But, the question is; which one is healthier? Let’s have a look.
Regular potatoes have lesser nutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals) like vitamin A and C, sodium, potassium, and calcium (66). On the other hand, there are numerous compounds in sweet potatoes that are absent in the regular variant.
Sweet potatoes have low glycemic index too, which is an added benefit (67). Regular potatoes also have high satiety value and glycemic index, which can be harmful and can cause adverse effects in humans (68, 69, 70).
So, it is clear that the nutritional value of the sweet potatoes is higher; and hence, they are the healthier choice than simple potatoes.
- The sweet potatoes must be stored in a ventilated area at room temperature (60-65oF), and make sure to choose potatoes that are clean, well-shaped, and firm (71).
- If you are planting the sweet potatoes at home, use certified plant and rotate the location timely to prevent diseases (72).
It can be concluded that the sweet potatoes are associated with good nutritional status due to the presence of a lot of nutrients (73). It would be wise to include it in your diet as it is a healthier choice for your body.