sweet potatoes

Whether you call them yams or sweet potatoes, these vegetables are bursting with healthful nutrition. There are other good-for-you perks that come with making sweet potatoes a staple in your diet.

Here are the six best health benefits of sweet potatoes.

1. Nutritious

The sweet potato is an extremely nourishing vegetable. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one raw potato approximately 5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter contains:

carbohydratesapproximately 26 g
fibernearly 4 g
proteinabout 2 g

2. Low on the Glycemic Index

Did You Know?
The glycemic index is a ranking of foods that contain carbohydrates based on how they affect blood sugar. Foods that cause spikes in blood sugar have high rankings, while foods that are absorbed slower and allow for a more gradual rise in blood sugar have lower rankings.

Eating foods ranked low on the glycemic index (GI) helps those who need to manage their blood sugar levels, like people with diabetes. An average 150 g boiled sweet potato ranks quite low on the index. It comes in at 70, compared to a baked russet potato, whose GI number is 111. However, keep in mind that their GI increases when they’re baked, rather than boiled.

3. Paleo-Friendly

The sweet potato fits in perfectly as a healthy meal option if you’re trying to stick to a Paleo diet. The diet supports eating foods that were consumed during the Paleolithic era, when man relied on hunting and gathering.

It excludes:

  • dairy products
  • grains
  • legumes
  • processed oils
  • refined sugars
  • white potatoes

So if you’re craving french fries on the Paleo diet, you’ll be happy to know you can still eat sweet potato fries.

roasted sweet potato soup

4. Prevent Cancer

Risk of Kidney Stones
While sweet potatoes are healthy, the Mayo Clinic reports that people who have had kidney stones may not want to eat them regularly. Sweet potatoes contain oxalate, which can aid in kidney stone formation.

The average sweet potato contains 18,443 international units (IU) of vitamin A, or 368 percent of the recommended daily value. Sweet potatoes also are packed with retinoic acid, which is found in vitamin A.

A 2014 study found that retinoic acid turned pre-cancerous cells back into normal, healthy breast cells. It could not, however, reverse cancer in cells that already were cancerous.

5. Swimsuit Friendly

Aside from being low in fat, sweet potatoes contain carotenoids that can help skin radiate a tan-like glow. This is a much healthier alternative to tanning in the sun. Simply eat your way to a glowing complexion! But be careful: overdoing it can lead to yellow skin discoloration (carotenodermia) or a deep orange discoloration (lycopenodermia).

6. Versatile

With so many preparations and recipe options, it’s no wonder sweet potatoes are such a hit. Puree sweet potatoes into a roasted sweet potato soup, or put them into a sweet potato and black bean burgers with lime mayonnaise for something truly different. They also can be baked whole in the oven.