Top 5 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes + Nutrition Info and Fun FactsWritten by Christine Sexton, MPH, RD
Sweet potatoes are a true superfood providing a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese, as well as good amounts of B vitamins and potassium.
When eaten with the skin on, they are also a good source of fiber. Unfortunately, only about 10% of Americans consume the recommended amount of fiber (1). Since fiber is important for heart and digestive health, it is a great idea to include more fiber-containing foods like sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and delicious many different ways. Try them as baked sweet potato fries, in soups and chilis, or simply baked whole. Read on below to find out the top 5 health benefits of sweet potatoes, the nutrient details, and some interesting facts.
Sweet Potato Health Benefits
1. Orange Sweet Potatoes are a Top Source of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential for good vision, skin health, a healthy immune system and reproductive health (2). People who eat a lot of foods containing beta-carotene, like sweet potatoes, may have lower risk of some types of cancer (3).
2. Sweet Potatoes Are a Good Source of Fiber
In fact, when eaten with the skin on, sweet potatoes have over 50% more fiber than oatmeal (4). Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, assists with weight management, helps control blood sugar levels and helps to keep bowel movements regular (5).
3. Sweet Potatoes Are An Excellent Source of Vitamin C
One sweet potato contains more than one-third the Daily Value of vitamin C. Vitamin C is crucial for good skin health and wound healing (6). Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant. Scientists have found that diets with plenty of vitamin C may help lower blood pressure (7).
4. Sweet Potatoes May Lower Risk of Cancer
Eating sweet potatoes regularly may decrease risk of breast, colorectal, gallbladder and kidney cancers (8). One 10-year study of over 100,000 adults found that people who ate sweet potatoes and potatoes regularly had lower risk of kidney cancer (9).
5. Sweet Potatoes are Rich in Manganese
One medium sweet potato contains 28% of the DV for this mineral. Manganese is essential for many body processes, including metabolism, bone development and wound healing (10).
Nutrient Info For Sweet Potato
Serving size: 1 Medium Sweet PotatoTop 10 Nutrients by %DV
- Vitamin A438% DV
- Vitamin C37% DV
- Manganese28% DV
- Vitamin B616% DV
- Potassium15% DV
- Fiber15% DV
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)10% DV
- Copper9% DV
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)8% DV
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)8% DV
|Vitamin A, IU||21908.5IU||438%|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database - Release 28.
See the complete nutrition facts with over 150 nutrients, or the nutrition facts comparison of Sweet Potato vs other foods.
Sweet Potato Fun Facts
- Sweet potatoes are actually unrelated to white or "Irish" potatoes and come from the Binweed, or Morning Glory, family.
- Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place with good ventilation. They should not be stored in the refrigerator (11).
- Sweet potatoes are one of the oldest vegetables known to humankind, with records of it going as far back as 750 B.C (11).
- Sweet potatoes are native to Peru and are now grown all over the world, including in Asia, Africa and North America.
- China is the world's top producer of sweet potatoes (12).
- In South America, the juice from red sweet potatoes is used to make a dye for cloth (11).
- The leaves of sweet potato plants are also highly nutritious. Like the sweet potato itself, they provide many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and essential fatty acids (13).
- Cultivated for centuries in medieval times the sweet potato was thought to be an aphrodisiac, however, results of this claim are varied.
Data Sources and References
- National Fiber Council
- Office Of Dietary Supplement Page on Vitamin A
- Pubmed - Cancer chemoprevention by carotenoids
- Nutrition Facts Comparison of Baked Sweet Potatoes vs Oatmeal
- Mayoclinic on Dietary Fiber
- Pubmed - The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
- Pubmed - Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies
- Research Gate - Sweet Potato - A Valuable Medicinal Food: A Review
- Pubmed - Risk factors for kidney cancer in a Japanese population: findings from the JACC Study
- Oregon State University on Manganese
- International Journal of Research - Sweet Potato as a Super Food
- World Atlas - Top Sweet Potato Growing Countries
- Pubmed - Sweet potato leaves: properties and synergistic interactions that promote health and prevent disease.