Sweet Potatoes: Properties and Benefits

Sweet potatoes are a tuber that has nutritional properties and are also an ingredient that you can add to different preparations. Discover their health benefits here!
Sweet Potatoes: Properties and Benefits
Florencia Villafañe

Written and verified by the nutritionist Florencia Villafañe.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

Did you know that sweet potatoes are a food that has various nutritional properties? If you’re one of those people who enjoy eating them, then you’ll be happy to discover that, in addition to its pleasant taste, the sweet potato offers benefits to your health. Find out more in this article!

This tuber is a plant of South American origin, but today it’s grown in most parts of the world. What’s more, it’s also a nutritious and budget-friendly option.

The nutritional properties of sweet potatoes

According to this study, the sweet potato is a food of high nutritional value. This is because it provides different substances that are useful for the human body.

Among them, the following stand out:

  • Dietary fiber: Capable of stimulating peristalsis
  • Carbohydrates: Mainly in the form of starch, which breaks down into simple sugars and is responsible for the sweet taste
  • Vitamins: Precursors of vitamin A, B complex, and vitamin C
  • Minerals: Potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium
  • Phenolic compounds: Together with other antioxidants, these block the free radicals responsible for cellular aging.

    A bowl of roasted vegetables.
    The sweet potato has nutritional properties useful for all segments of the population.

What are the benefits of eating sweet potatoes?

The human body needs to consume all the nutrients that sweet potatoes contain. This is because, if we don’t consume the daily recommended amount of each of them, this can be harmful to our health. Although the content of these substances may vary among the different varieties that exist, the consumption of any of them is positive.

Aiding in healing

Because of their vitamin C content, sweet potatoes may help prevent bleeding and make wound healing more effective. This has to do with the fact that this compound acts on the healing process.

In fact, studies suggest that people used the yellow sweet potato in ancient times to treat diseases that have to do with this nutrient. Its vitamin C content combines with that of beta carotene to accelerate the action of fibroblasts.

Protecting cardiovascular health

If you eat them regularly and as part of a balanced diet, sweet potatoes are a food that has a cardio-protective effect. In other words, they prevent damage to the heart muscle and blood vessels. This is due to their vitamin B6 content, which helps slow down the hardening of arteries and other blood vessels.

Also, eating sweet potatoes lowers blood pressure because of their potassium content. This mineral has proven to have a positive effect among hypertensive patients, contrary to sodium.

Protecting the liver

The anthocyanins in sweet potatoes protect the liver function because they attenuate the changes that may occur. These compounds can prevent bleeding and cell inflammation, and even necrosis or death of this organ.

The liver is a tissue with multiple metabolic functions. Therefore, anthocyanins become indispensable in ensuring that internal processes develop properly.

Preventing the appearance of systemic inflammation

As we mentioned, sweet potatoes have antioxidant substances and their function is to prevent cell damage by free radicals. This reduces the inflammatory processes that take place constantly within our bodies.

In fact, the study “Foods with an anti-inflammatory effect” points out that these compounds could be oncological protectors. Therefore, they may reduce the development of breast, prostate, colon, and skin cancer. All these pathologies have to do with chronic inflammation.

Improving digestion

Because it has both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, one of the benefits of sweet potatoes is that they help improve digestion. These components accelerate intestinal transit, preventing constipation and associated symptoms.

Also, fiber reduces the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and has a powerful satiating effect. In this way, it regulates blood sugar, which becomes key in diabetic feeding plans and the prevention of metabolic syndromes.

How to cook sweet potatoes in 3 easy ways

Fortunately, you can cook sweet potatoes in several ways, including roasted, mashed, in quiches and soups, and more. All of these recipes allow you to reap the benefits of sweet potatoes. With that in mind, we want to share three of our favorite methods.

1. Sweet potato chips: A healthy snack

One of the variants you can make to replace your typical potato chips is healthy sweet potato fries. To make them, you’ll need one clean sweet potato (no need to peel!), one teaspoon of oil, salt, and spices. Follow the steps below:

  • Cut the sweet potato into very thin slices.
  • Next, place them in a tray with oil and add salt, condiments, or spices of your preference.
  • Finally, bake them in the oven for 10 minutes. If you want them to be as crispy as possible, preheat the tray for 5 minutes.

2. Creamy soup

If you’re a fan of creamy textured soups, this option will be ideal for you. You can make it as a soup base and then add whatever other ingredients that you like. You need 2 peeled sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of seeds, water, salt, and green onions to taste.

The steps are the following:

  • Boil the sweet potatoes and don’t add too much water, so you don’t have to strain it. Boil them until they fall apart.
  • Then, press with a fork, add the seeds, chopped green onion, salt, and seasoning.
  • Now it’s ready to eat, but if you prefer, you can add cheese, egg, or some kind of meat.

3. Mashed sweet potatoes

One of the most common ways to eat sweet potatoes is as a puree, so they’re perfect for accompanying meats or other dishes. For this, you need 1 large sweet potato, salt, 1 tablespoon of butter, and spices. The preparation is as follows:

  • Peel the sweet potato and boil it until it softens. You can also steam it.
  • Then, mash it completely with a fork, add the salt, the spices, and the butter.
  • To finish, mix the preparation. It’s now ready to serve.
Sweet potato fries with dip.
Healthy chips are an option for snacking between meals.

Add sweet potatoes to your diet to obtain their benefits

As you’ll see, the consumption of this tuber brings numerous benefits to your health. For this reason, we recommend that you incorporate it into your diet. Also, keep in mind that it’s a versatile food and is useful to add to both sweet and salty dishes.

At the same time, don’t forget that besides eating sweet potatoes, you should follow a healthy diet in general and an active life. As long as you advance with a plan for care and prevention, foods like sweet potatoes will be easy to make part of your regular diet.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.