Sweet potatoes have been all the rage for years, celebrated for its many health benefits and versatility. However, many people question its true value because it’s still considered to be a “carb,” and the name itself suggests it’s full of sugar and calories. So what’s really the deal?
Nutrients in Sweet Potatoes
The orange color found in this superfood is a pretty big hint at its properties. It happens because sweet potatoes are chalk-full of a phytonutrient called beta-carotene. As an antioxidant, it protects against many diseases and is also used to help make vitamin A. Vitamin A is important to your immune system, vision, communication between your cells and much more.
But beyond that, sweet potatoes are rich with vitamin C, manganese (good for skin and bone health), B vitamins (for energy), and minerals like potassium. They’re also an all around excellent source for antioxidants which protect your body from free radicals.
Other Health Benefits
What are some other advantages of sweet potatoes for your health? They…
- Reduce inflammation which lowers your risk for many chronic diseases
- Regulate blood pressure by using potassium to get rid of excess sodium
- Support weight-loss as a filling and fiber-rich food
- Improve learning, memory and overall brain function
What About All the Sugar?
Despite its name as a “sweet” potato, this healthy starch is actually lower on the Glycemic Index (GI) than regular white potatoes. This means your blood sugar won’t rise as fast after eating one, preventing a dangerous spike in blood sugar that can cause you to feel sick.
But the way you prepare them is also important. A baked sweet potato can raise your GI level much more than a boiled potato because you end up eating more sugar. However, compared to a regular potato, it’s a much healthier and lighter option in terms of your weight.
Tips for Preparing Sweet Potatoes
Looking for additional ways to add this superfood to your diet? Consider these options:
- Thinly sliced chips baked in the oven
- Baked fries cut into wedges or matchsticks
- Boiled, mashed, and seasoned with herbs and coconut milk
- Spiralized sweet potatoes to be sauteed or added to sauce
- Cubed and sauteed, added to a healthy skillet dish with other veggies
- Cubed and pan roasted alongside baked chicken and other veggies
The Bottom Line
Sweet potatoes are traditionally healthier than regular white potatoes, but pay attention to preparation. To keep your meal or side dish on the leaner side, try to avoid dipping your potatoes in sugary sauces or cinnamon butter/cream. You should also prepare them with a little bit of healthy fat, such as olive, coconut or avocado oil. And while you might want to avoid frying them to keep calories low, baked, sauteed, boiled or roasted sweet potatoes make for an excellent treat.