Besides simple starches, raw sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and beta-carotene (a provitamin A carotenoid), while having moderate contents of other micronutrients, including vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and manganese (table). When cooked by baking, small variable changes in micronutrient density occur to include a higher content of vitamin C at 24% of the Daily Value per 100 g serving (right table)]
The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked the nutritional value of sweet potatoes as highest among several other foods.
Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh have more beta-carotene than those with light-colored flesh, and their increased cultivation is being encouraged in Africa where vitamin A deficiency is a serious health problem. A 2012 study of 10,000 households in Uganda found that children eating beta-carotene enriched sweet potatoes suffered less vitamin A deficiency than those not consuming as much beta-carotene. (1)
Benefits of Sweet Potato:
- Sweet potato is one of the high calorie starch foods (provide 90 calories/100 g vis a vis to 70 calories/100 g in potato). The tuber, however, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, and is rich source of dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals than potatoes.
- Its calorie content mainly comes from starch, a complex carbohydrate. Sweet potato has higher amylose to the amylopectin ratio than that in potato. Amylose raises the blood sugar levels rather slowly on comparison to simple fruit sugars (fructose, glucose etc) and therefore, recommended as a healthy food item even in diabetes.
- The tuber is an excellent source of flavonoid phenolic compounds such as beta-carotene and vitamin-A. 100 g tuber provides 14,187 IU of vitamin A and 8,509 µg of ß-carotene, a value which is the highest for any root-vegetables categories. These compounds are powerful natural antioxidants. Vitamin A is also required for the human body to maintain integrity of mucus membranes and skin. It is a vital nutrient for healthy vision. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- The total antioxidant strength of raw sweet potato measured in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is 902 µmol TE/100 g.
- The tubers are packed with many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), and thiamin (vitamin B-1), niacin, and riboflavin. These vitamins are essential in the sense that the human body requires them from external sources to replenish. These vitamins function as co-factors for various enzymes during metabolism.
- Sweet potato provides good amount of vital minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium that are very essential for enzyme, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Sweet potato top greens are indeed more nutritious than the tuber itself. Weight per weight, 100 g of fresh leaves carry more iron, vitamin C, folates, vitamin K, and potassium but less sodium than its tuber. (2)
Simple Baked Potato Recipe:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 2 pinches salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat the bottom of a glass or non-stick baking dish with olive oil, just enough to coat.
- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into medium size pieces. Place the cut sweet potatoes in the baking dish and turn them so that they are coated with the olive oil. Sprinkle moderately with oregano, and salt and pepper (to taste). The potatoes can also be mashed at this time for easier digestion. (3)
(1) Sweet Potato Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
(2) Sweet Potato Benefits: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sweet_potato.html
(3) Baked Sweet Potato Recipe: Allrecipe.com : http://allrecipes.com/recipe/18249/baked-sweet-potatoes/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=4