Sweet potatoes are sweet, starchy root vegetables that are grown worldwide. They come in a variety of sizes and colors — including orange, white, and purple — and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Not to mention, they provide a number of health benefits and are easy to add to your diet. They can be enjoyed with or without the skin and can be baked, boiled, roasted, fried, steamed, or pan-cooked. Their natural sweetness pairs well with many different seasonings, and they can be enjoyed in both savory and sweet dishes. Some popular ways to enjoy sweet potatoes include: Sweet potato chips: Peeled, thinly sliced, and baked or fried. Sweet potato fries: Peeled, cut into wedges or matchsticks, and baked or fried. Sweet potato toast: Cut into thin slices, toasted, and topped with ingredients like nut butter or avocado. Mashed sweet potatoes: Peeled, boiled, and mashed with milk and seasoning. Baked sweet potatoes: Baked whole in the oven until fork-tender. Sweet potato hash: Peeled, diced, and cooked with onion in a pan. Spiralized sweet potatoes: Cut into spirals, sautéed, and sauced. In baked goods: Sweet potato puree adds moisture without fat. Preparing sweet potatoes with a little fat — such as coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado — can help boost the absorption of beta-carotene since it’s a fat-soluble nutrient
Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One cup (200 grams) of baked sweet potato with skin provides Calories: 180, Carbs: 41.4 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 0.3 grams, Fiber: 6.6 grams, Vitamin A: 769% of the Daily Value (DV), Vitamin C: 65% of the DV, Manganese: 50% of the DV, Vitamin B6: 29% of the DV, Potassium: 27% of the DV, Pantothenic acid: 18% of the DV, Copper: 16% of the DV, Niacin: 15% of the DV. In addition, sweet potatoes — especially the orange and purple varieties — are rich in antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage DNA and trigger inflammation. Free radical damage has been linked to chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and aging. Therefore, eating antioxidant-rich foods is good for your health.
Promote Gut Health
The fiber and antioxidants in sweet potatoes are advantageous to gut health. Sweet potatoes contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Your body cannot digest either type. Therefore, fiber stays within your digestive tract and provides a variety of gut-related health benefits. Certain types of soluble fiber — known as viscous fibers — absorb water and soften your stool. On the other hand, non-viscous, insoluble fibers don’t absorb water and add bulk. Some soluble and insoluble fibers can also be fermented by the bacteria in your colon, creating compounds called short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells of your intestinal lining and keep them healthy and strong. Fiber-rich diets containing 20–33 grams per day have been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer and more regular bowel movements. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes may provide gut benefits as well. Test-tube studies have found that antioxidants in purple sweet potatoes promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including certain Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species. Greater amounts of these types of bacteria within the intestines are associated with better gut health and a lower risk of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and infectious diarrhea.