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7 Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes

Last updated Nov. 11, 2021

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

They sure are sweet, but what makes them super? On this episode, find out what makes sweet potatoes so healthy. Also find out a bit about the history of sweet potatoes, why they're often mistaken for yams (although the two are very different) and why superfoods will benefit you!

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. The Ipomoea batatas are native to the tropical regions of America. Sweet potatoes are only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and do not belong to the nightshade family.

Here are the 7 health benefits of sweet potatoes:

1.     Sweet potatoes can help prevent cancer.

The antioxidant beta-carotene found in sweet potatoes has been associated with reduced risk of several types of cancer. Researchers have suggested that increasing beta-carotene consumption from 1.7 to 2.7 milligrams per day reduced lung cancer risk by more than 40 percent. B-vitamin complex, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and calcium are very efficient in curing stomach ulcers.

2.     Sweet potatoes can help keep one's eyes healthy.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A with one cup handling 769 percent of the daily recommendation. Vitamin A is known for improving one’s eyesight and preventing night blindness from developing as we age.

3.     Sweet potatoes can help improve the immune system.

Beta-carotene along with vitamin C, B-vitamin complex, iron, and phosphorus, are great immune system boosters that can defend the body from a wide variety of infections. One cup of sweet potatoes contains 65 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin C.

4.     Sweet potatoes can help improve brain function.

Sweet potatoes are rich in starch, which is the perfect energy source for the brain. Also, the B-vitamin complex, amino acid, and fatty acids found in potatoes that are vital for the cognitive ability and performance of the brain.

5.     Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of choline.

Choline is usually grouped in the B-complex vitamins. This water-soluble nutrient is found in two classes of cell membranes found in nerve cells,  phosphatidylcholine, and sphingomyelin. Choline is also a precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in many functions including memory and muscle control. Sweet potatoes contain 16.2 milligrams of choline per one cup serving.

6.     Sweet potatoes are easy to digest.

Because sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they are easy to digest and facilitate digestion. Sweet potatoes also contain a significant amount of fiber. Fiber stimulates peristaltic motion and increased secretion of gastric juices, which eases digestion, prevents conditions like constipation, and protects the body from more serious conditions like colorectal cancer. Fiber can also scrape cholesterol out of the arteries and blood vessels. One cup of sweet potatoes contains 6.6 grams of dietary fiber.

7.     Sweet potatoes are great for blood pressure maintenance.

Sweet potatoes are high in potassium and low in sodium, which lowers blood pressure. Also, the fiber content in sweet potatoes is helpful in lowering cholesterol and improves the performance of insulin in the body, which aids in the lowering of blood pressure. One cup of sweet potatoes contains 950 milligrams of potassium compared to 72 milligrams of sodium.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 5, 2014
Last updated: Nov. 11, 2021