9 Science-backed health and nutrition benefits of eating sweet potatoes
09/03/2023 // Olivia Cook // Views

Unlike a "regular" potato (edible tuber of the nightshade family), the "sweet" potato is a large edible root within the morning glory family. They’re also different from yams, which are edible tubers within the lily family and native to Africa and Asia.

Regular potatoes come in shades of brown, yellow, and red, and have white or yellow flesh. Sweet potatoes typically have brown skin and orange flesh, but also come in purple, yellow, and red varieties.

In the United States and some other countries, sweet potatoes are often called yams, even though they’re different species. There's a very good chance that if you're buying "yams" at an American grocery store, they are actually sweet potatoes.

Quick tip for you – yams are rough-skinned, starchy veggies with pale flesh, while sweet potatoes are smaller and tapered with smooth skin.

The review on the nutritional composition of sweet potatoes published in the journal Molecules indicated that these veggies can play an immense role in the human diet and are considered a second staple food in both developed and underdeveloped countries.

Sweet potatoes provide a holistic package of goodness for your health and well-being

A nutritional powerhouse, sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins (A, B1-thiamin, B2-riboflavin, B3-niacin, B5-pantothenic acid, B6-pyridoxine, B7-biotin, C and E) and minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc).

The major phytochemicals that are generally present in sweet potatoes include alkaloids, carotenoids, coumarins, flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids, phenolic acids, polysaccharides, saponins and tannins.

The unique composition of sweet potatoes contributes to their various health benefits, such as anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-mutagenic, anti-obesity, antioxidative, anti-tumor and hepatoprotective effects, based on the study published in the journal Food Research International.

Sweet potatoes reduce oxidative damage and cancer risk

In 1931, a unique protein was discovered in sweet potatoes. Later renamed, 80 percent of the protein in sweet potatoes is a type of protease inhibitor, with potential anticancer effects. It was originally tested against leukemia cells and appeared to suppress the growth of leukemia cells in a petri dish, according to NutritionFacts.org.

The study, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, found that sweet potato protein exerts significant anti-proliferative and anti-metastatic effects on human colorectal cancer cell lines – both in vitro (outside the living body and in an artificial environment) and in vivo (within a living organism).

The study, published in the journal Oncology Reports, indicated that sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in flavonoid anthocyanins that exert an anti-tumor effect in bladder cancer.

Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are the richest in beta-carotene, a major carotenoid – essential natural pigments that act as antioxidants that protect you from disease and enhance your immune system. (Related: Sweet potatoes shown to prevent cancer.)

A comparative study published in the journal Pharmaceutics concluded that the carotenoid emulsion prepared from sweet potato peel was effective in inhibiting breast cancer cells and reducing breast tumor volume and weight.

Other bioactive compounds in sweet potatoes that have been found to exhibit anti-cancer activities include flavonoids (apigenin, fisetin, kaempferol, luteolin, morin, myricetin and quercetin) and phenolic acids (caffeic acid derivatives, caffeoylquinic acid derivatives, chlorogenic acid and quinic acid).

Sweet potatoes are heart-friendly

The impressive potassium content in sweet potatoes helps regulate blood pressure – reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, their fiber content and amazing antioxidant profiles contribute to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol – promoting a healthy heart.

Other bioactive compounds in sweet potatoes that have been found to provide cardioprotection include carotenoids, flavonoid isorhamnetin and omega-3 fatty acids, which also exhibit anti-inflammatory activity.

Sweet potatoes help control blood sugar fluctuations

Contrary to their sweet taste, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index – making them an excellent choice for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Their high fiber and slow digestion helps prevent sudden spikes and crashes – providing sustained energy throughout the day.

Bioactive compounds in sweet potato leaves that have been found to exhibit anti-diabetic activities include phenolic acids, particularly caffeic acid derivatives and chlorogenic acid.

In a study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, the extract of white-skinned sweet potato Ipomoea batatas (Caiapo) has been shown to improve glucose control by improving insulin sensitivity in patients with Type-2 diabetes mellitus after five months of follow-up.

Researchers reported that improvement in insulin sensitivity was accompanied by increased levels of adiponectin and a decrease in fibrinogen.

Sweet potatoes decrease the risk of degenerative diseases

According to a study published in the journal Antioxidants, beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) is one of several nutrients in sweet potatoes that contribute to a reduced risk of macular degeneration.

Besides potentially helping prevent the degeneration of the macula, vitamin A has been associated in some studies with a reduced risk of age-related cataracts.

Sweet potatoes improve digestion and promotes bowel movement regularity

With their high fiber content, sweet potatoes support a healthy digestive system. Fiber aids in smooth digestion, prevents constipation and fosters the growth of beneficial gut bacteria – promoting overall gut health and optimal nutrient absorption.

Sweet potatoes support healthy hair and skin

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamins A, C and E and bioactive compounds, such as alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, saponins and tannins, that exhibit antioxidant activity, which may help reduce hair loss due to oxidative stress.

When you eat sweet potatoes, your body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which acts as a skin barrier against clogged pores, discoloration and inflammation.

Additionally, it is great at curbing the onset of wrinkles, fighting acne and protecting your skin from the sun. Vitamin C helps in collagen synthesis, which is the main structural protein of your skin.

Sweet potatoes are also a rich source of beta-carotene, copper, iron, magnesium and potassium, which aid cell growth, prevent hair thinning and even reduce dullness in your hair.

Sweet potatoes encourage fertility

The sweet potato is considered a fertility-boosting food due to its high vitamin A content, which has been found to improve reproduction. Sweet potatoes are also rich in iron – an essential vitamin for any female trying to get pregnant. Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes help boost progesterone production, which is important to embryo development.

Sweet potatoes aid in stress reduction

Included in the list of foods identified that can help relieve stress, sweet potatoes help lower cortisol – the primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands.

High cortisol levels can cause several symptoms, such as headaches, irritability and weight gain, to name a few.

Watch the following video about how sweet potatoes are shown to prevent cancer.

This video is from the Natural News channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Why sweet potatoes are the perfect addition to your summer garden.

Sweet potatoes for ex-smokers: Yams have been proven to fight emphysema, lung cancer growth.

As GMOs fail, Mozambique farmers turn to natural sweet potatoes to improve nutrition, yields and income.

Sources include:


PubMed.NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 1


PubMed.NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 2






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