Next time you go out to dinner there’s a pretty good chance that sweet potato fries will be on the menu. In fact, sweet potatoes are finding their way into a lot of mainstream dishes these days as people are becoming aware of their nutritional value.
However, many people still have their doubts when it comes to the sweet potato nutrition profile.
The reason is most likely because sweet potatoes are lumped into the potato family and it’s assumed that they are like regular potatoes, which are usually served deep-fried, salted and smothered with extra fat, sodium and calories.
So, the question is are sweet potatoes bad for you?
Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about sweet potatoes and why you should be eating them.
Lower Blood Sugar
For starters, sweet potatoes are a great addition to just about any diet. They’ve even been shown to lower blood sugar.
In fact, there are several studies currently looking into the correlation between sweet potatoes and diabetes.
For example, in one study done at the University of Vienna in Austria, 61 participants were given either 4 grams of a type of sweet potato called Caiapo or a placebo for three months.
At the end of the study, the group given sweet potatoes had significantly lowered their blood sugar.1
In a separate study published in the journal Metabolism revealed that diabetic patients given Caiapo for six weeks improved insulin sensitivity.2
Antioxidants help us fight off harmful free radicals and lower our risk of chronic disease by preventing damage to our cells.
In fact, antioxidants may offer protection against diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.3
And the more color a sweet potato has in general, the more potent its antioxidant activity with purple sweet potatoes having the highest antioxidant content.4
Boosts Brain Function
Several studies have also shown that eating sweet potatoes may also help boost your brain function and improve memory.
In one study using animals, researchers from Chungnam National University’s College of Pharmacy in Korea, treated rats with purple sweet potato extract. What they found was that the sweet potato extract helped prevent oxidative damage in the brain, enhanced cognitive performance and improved memory.5
In a separate study using animals done in China, researchers found that purple sweet potatoes helped protect against brain aging and improved spatial learning and memory ability in mice.6
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A and each medium potato contains approximately 438 percent of the daily vitamin A requirement.
Vitamin A plays a major role in a variety of health and immune activities.
It stimulates the production of immune cells that help fight off disease and infections.7
Supports Healthy Vision
In addition to increasing immunity, vitamin A also plays an important role in healthy vision.
Low levels of vitamin A can result in symptoms like dry eyes, night blindness, a buildup of keratin on the conjunctiva and even a loss of vision in the most severe cases.
Plus, as I mentioned earlier sweet potatoes contain important antioxidants that can help with vision health as well.
For example, beta-carotene, has been shown to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, which can result in vision loss.
Helps with Weight Loss
If you’ve ever struggled to lose weight, sweet potatoes may help.
Sweet Potatoes can help with weight loss because of their high nutrient density and their fiber content helps you stay full.
That’s because fiber moves slowly through the digestive system and it helps to promote satiety. It also helps cut cravings which can help with weight loss.
In one animal study published in 2017 purple sweet potatoes were shown to help with weight loss. Mice were fed a high-fat diet and were also given purple sweet potatoes, which were shown to reduce fat accumulation over a 12-week period.8
So if you've been staying away from sweet potatoes because you thought they were bad, give them a try.
They're actually quite good for you.