Health benefits and recipes of the humble sweet potato

 Health benefits of sweet potato

Sweet potatoes or Shakarkandi are generally available in the winters.

They are sweet and starchy root vegetables grown all over the world and are highly nutritious and versatile, making them a perfect snack option for many.

They have a high carbohydrate content, but unlike normal potatoes, they are not branded as fattening.

Health benefits of sweet potato

They provide oodles of health benefits and can be readily added to your diet.

  • Nutritiously packed- Along with great source of fibre, sweet potatoes are packed with good carbohydrates, fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Manganese and other nutrients like potassium and Pantothenic acid. All of these nutrients make them a superfood and are important for protecting body from free radicals which are linked with diseases like heart diseases and ageing
  • Cancer fighting properties- sweet potatoes are loaded with anthocyanins (Antioxidants) to slow the growth of cancer cells (studies by Soyoung Lim et al. Mol Nutrition Food Res. 2013 November)
  • Gut health benefits- sweet potatoes are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre which spells amazing news for your digestive system! (Insoluble fibre -avoiding constipation / Soluble fibre - avoiding diarrhoea)
  • Good for brain functioning- Studies by Qun Shan et al. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2009 have proved that anthocyanin found in sweet potatoes have been found to improve memory and learning.
  • Healthy vision- Beta carotene rich sweet potatoes help prevent vision impairment and improves eye health too.
  • Immunity- Again the beta carotene in sweet potatoes is converted to Vitamin A which supports immune system.
  • Help treat Bronchitis
  • Provides Stress relief
  • Promote fertility in women
  • Help regulate Blood pressure

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Nutritional Profile-

Amount per 100gms



% Daily value


86 calories


Total fat












Total Carbohydrate



Dietary fibre



Vitamin C



Calcium and iron


3% each

Vitamin B6













Nutrition of Sweet potato- Raw vs Cooked

Turns out a lot of people think that you have to cook sweet potatoes before eating them. But unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes can be actually consumed raw.

But a raw sweet potato has lesser energy, sugar and carbohydrates compared to the cooked one. One cup of raw sweet potato may contain 114 calories, 26.8 grams of carbs and 5.6 g sugar, whereas one cup of baked sweet potato may contain 180 calories, 41.4 g carbs and 16.9 g sugar.

Also, cooking them makes them easier to digest and prevents you from those embarrassing digestive issues.  Thus, in terms of nutrition, a baked sweet potato is high in vitamin A, C, fibre, potassium and iron.

However, boiling sweet potatoes also retains more beta carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods

Sweet potato benefits for skin

Sweet potatoes are the perfect marriage of taste and health

The Beta carotene in sweet potatoes is converted to Vitamin A once ingested which helps in healthy skin, reduces risk of skin cancers and has anti-ageing properties.

Also, Vitamin C in them helps production of skin protein- Collagen. Sweet potatoes act as natural moisturizers too.

Not only internally, externally also, when applied to skin, a sweet potato skin mask helps get rid of excess facial oils.

Is it good for diabetic patients? How much can they eat?

Diabetics, take a note!

You can nosh on sweet potatoes to control your blood sugar. But, in moderation!

Being high in fibre and lower in glycemic index, they have a less immediate impact on blood glucose levels.

Hence, diabetic people don’t need to steer clear of sweet potatoes altogether, its important to keep in mind the amounts, type, preparation and seasoning of sweet potato.

Diabetics can safely consume half a cup of sweet potatoes as it is equivalent to 15gms of carbohydrates.

    Do sweet potatoes help in weight loss?

    Yes, sweet potatoes can support healthy weight management, but there are many factors to consider, like cooking methods too!!

    They keep you fuller for longer, thanks to their high fibre content! (studies by Remya Mohanraj et al. J Med Food. 2014 Jul.)

    Uncooked sweet potatoes are also 77% water and 13% fibre. This indicates that they can keep you full on less calories comparatively while providing lasting energy.

    Fibre in this root vegetable promotes stool movement, improves metabolism, digestion and thus aids weight loss.

    Though sweet potatoes are sweet, their GI (Glycemic index) is low. You can consume them without worrying about your blood glucose levels.

    Being rich in water, sweet potatoes prevent dehydration, thus preventing your body from accumulating fats, balances the PH and helps flushing out toxins!!

    Is it good for babies?

    Is sweet potatoes good for babies?

    Yes, sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, not to mention delicious! They make for the perfect first food for babies.

    Their mild sweet flavour makes them a favourite food for the little ones!! You can mash them or puree them upon cooking properly.

    The lovely creamy texture makes them easy for babies to swallow and digest. Their health benefits for babies include

    • Being rich in fibre, it helps prevent constipation in babies and maintain a heathy digestive tract.
    • Provides immunity
    • Maintains Good eye health
    • They prevent Anaemia due to high iron
    • Helps in bone strengthening
    • Sweet potatoes are a power food containing almost all multivitamins to help attain babies’ developmental milestones on time.

    Disclaimer- It is advisable to start sweet potatoes once your child turns 6 months old.

    How do sweet potatoes compare with normal potatoes?

    Sweet potatoes vs regular potatoes


    Both sweet potatoes and normal potatoes come from separate plant families, offer different nutrients and can affect your blood sugar differently.

    Sweet potatoes are often touted as being healthier than white potatoes, but in reality, both can be highly nutritious.

    1. Both can fit into a balanced diet
    2. Different glycemic index- People with diabetes should prefer sweet potatoes over potatoes due to their low glycemic index
    3. While regular and sweet potatoes are comparable in their calorie, protein, fat and carb content, regular potatoes provide more potassium, whereas sweet potatoes are incredibly high in vitamin A.
    Regular potato Sweet potato
    Calories 92 90
    Protein 2 grams 2 grams
    Fat 0.15 grams 0.15 grams
    Carbs 21 grams 21 grams
    Fiber 2.1 grams 3.3 grams
    Vitamin A 0.1% of the Daily Value (DV) 107% of the DV
    Vitamin B6 12% of the DV 17% of the DV
    Vitamin C 14% of the DV 22% of the DV
    Potassium 17% of the DV 10% of the DV
    Calcium 1% of the DV 3% of the DV
    Magnesium 6% of the DV 6% of the DV


    No Maida Noodles - Naturally Yours

    Are there any side effects or health concerns associated with sweet potatoes?

    People with heart diseases and on beta blockers should avoid consuming this vegetable. Also, people with kidney issues should further avoid sweet potatoes due to its high potassium content.

    Some studies also show that consumption of sweet potatoes can make your skin and nails to appear little orange in colour

    Also, there is some concern that the high amount of dietary oxalate in sweet potatoes can contribute to development of oxalate kidney stones

    Sweet potatoes contain a type of sugar called mannitol causing stomach pain for those with sensitive stomach.  A frequent stomach pain post consumption of this vegetable might suggest that you might be intolerant to mannitol found in sweet potatoes.

    Healthy ways to make it a part of our diet and some healthy recipes!!

    Cooking Treatment Effects On Sugar Profiles And Sweetness of Eleven-Released Sweet Potato Varieties,” published in the Journal of Food Processing & Technology, found that the GI for a raw sweet potato started at 15 and that baking increased it the most (33), microwaving the least (18), and steaming came in somewhere in the middle.

    The study found that the longer a sweet potato is exposed to heat, the more its GI is likely to increase.

    However, a point to be taken into consideration is that even baked sweet potato has a lower GI than several foods. So, go ahead and prepare it your favorite way, be it raw, steamed, baked, roasted or microwaved.

    On the other hand, deep-frying sweet potatoes increases the calories. This is because fat is retained from the frying oil.

    If weight loss is your goal, it’s best to limit how much and how often you eat deep-fried foods, including sweet potatoes.

    Top ways to enjoy sweet potatoes

    • A crispy snack- Try munching on some sweet potato chips
    • Add a twist to your sandwiches or Wraps- Replace potato with sweet potato and veggies.
    • The Sweet potato salad
    • Just drizzle honey or maple syrup and Eat
    • Soft Sweet potato pancakes
    • Grill them and add lemon and black salt
    • Sweet potato fries
    • Make a no sugar Sheera by roasting cooked sweet potato in little ghee

    Some healthy recipes:

    Sweet potato and quinoa bowl

    sweet potato quinoa salad

    A super healthy meal loaded with fibre and protein. Sweet potato chunks, quinoa and loads of veggies come together to make a wholesome meal!

    What you need-

    1 cup sweet potato cubes (cooked and peeled)

    Half cup shredded coconut

    1 cup cooked quinoa

    1 tbsp raisins/ cranberries

    1/4th cup cashew nuts

    1 tsp pepper powder

    1 bay leaf

    ½ tsp cayenne powder

    Salt as per taste

    How to make-

    1. Heat oil in a pan
    2. Add bay leaves, onions and fry till translucent
    3. Add pepper, cayenne powder, sweet potatoes and coconut
    4. Fry well till nice aroma comes out of coconut
    5. Add raisins/cranberries, cashews
    6. Mix well and fry for another 5 minutes
    7. Mix in cooked quinoa
    8. Leave it on a medium flame for 3 minutes
    9. Switch off, serve and enjoy!

    Garlicy Sweet potato hummus

    Sweet potato hummus

    This deliciously creamy hummus pairs beautifully with raw colourful veggies and pita bread. It also makes a wonderful spread on sandwiches.

    What you need?

    1.5 cups cooked chole/kabuli chana

    ½ cup cooked sweet potato (skin removed)

    Half lemon

    2 tbsp water

    2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    3-4 garlic cloves

    ½ tsp cumin seeds

    ¼ tsp grated ginger

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1/4th cup tahini sauce


    Sesame seeds

    Chopped parsley

    How to make

    1. Add all ingredients in a blender and blend it until smooth
    2. Serve in a bowl, drizzled with more olive oil and topped with sesame seeds and chopped parsley
    3. Serve it with pita bread or vegetable sticks

    End on a sweet note!

    You might only eat this veggie in winters, but sweet potatoes are full of nutrients that make them worth having all year long!

    They’re wonderfully delicious, nutrient rich, and high in fiber. This means that they can help you lose or maintain weight by keeping you feeling full for longer.

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    Sneha Jain, Dietician

    Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids .

    She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)

    She believes in  customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.

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