by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Health benefits? Check. Tasty? Check. No cooking required? Check. You can say so much good about the humble sweet potato in all its glory. But honestly, there’s no need for you to say much of anything if you don’t want to. All you need to do is just eat them and go about your day. But as usual, I always have a little bit more to say and share with you.
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but they are also extremely healthy. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals and contain very little fat.
When you look at these sweet spuds, they have been around for hundreds of years but have recently become more popular in the general population. Bodybuilders have been leveraging sweet potatoes as part of their nutrition plan for years.
That said, the bottom line is that people are starting to eat more sweet potatoes, and it’s not just because they taste good but also because they have so many health benefits that you can enjoy.
12 Reasons to Add Sweet Potatoes to Your Nutrition Plan
Below, you will find 12 reasons why sweet potatoes are really good for you!
1. Sweet potatoes are full of important vitamins
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for your health. They’re high in vitamin A, which is vital for eye health and plays an essential role in bone growth and immune function. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin C, folate (folic acid), and fiber, which help keep your digestive system healthy.
2. They support digestive health
Sweet potatoes contain prebiotics that helps support healthy gut bacteria and balance your digestive system. Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber that acts as food for beneficial bacteria in the colon. This helps prevent constipation and diarrhea by keeping the gut healthy and happy.
3. They’re low in calories but high in fiber
You can eat sweet potatoes without guilt because they have fewer calories than white potatoes and are loaded with fiber to help fill you up and keep you satiated. One serving of cooked sweet potatoes provides 3 grams of fiber, while one medium baked potato has 2 grams.
4. Sweet potatoes can provide energy
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which provide a source of energy and fuel while also helping you feel satisfied between meals. Carbohydrates also boost serotonin production in the brain, which may help reduce depression symptoms and improve moods for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
5. Sweet potatoes promote weight loss
The naturally sweet taste of sweet potato may help you cut back on other sources of sugar and sweets, such as soda or candy bars. And since sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, they can help keep your blood sugar levels steady and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods that can sabotage your weight loss goals.
6. They help fight the signs of aging
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, which can help fight free radical damage in the body. By eating sweet potatoes regularly, you may be able to slow down the aging process and prevent some of the signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles.
7. Sweet potatoes have complex carbs
In contrast to refined grains and processed carbohydrates, sweet potatoes are full of complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy throughout the day without causing blood sugar spikes or crashes. They also contain more fiber than most other vegetables, which helps keep you fuller for longer and supports healthy digestion.
8. Sweet potatoes keep your heart healthy
Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. In addition, they’re a good source of potassium and vitamin C — two nutrients that help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, preventing blood from clotting, and thinning the blood.
9. They are good for your bones and teeth
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin K, which plays a role in bone metabolism. Vitamin K also helps maintain strong bones and teeth by facilitating the movement of calcium into bones and teeth to strengthen them. This nutrient also slows down bone loss after menopause and helps prevent osteoporosis by maintaining healthy calcium levels in the body.
10. Sweet potatoes could help protect your vision
Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes is converted into vitamin A in the body when consumed, which means they can help prevent vision loss as you age.
11. They can improve brain function
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin D and vitamin B6, both of which help to improve brain function and boost memory — even more so than white potatoes. In fact, in animal studies, it was found that anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes enhance learning and memory function.
12. Sweet potatoes support your immune system
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which can help support your immune system. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes can also help reduce free radical damage at the cellular level, so they’re also great for your heart and skin.