Vitality

Is Sweet Potato Good For You?

Simply from the name, you may suspect that sweet potatoes are not all that healthy — but you may be surprised once you take a look at the nutritional profile of this vegetable.

One medium baked sweet potato with skin contains 103 calories, as stated by the United States Department of Agriculture website. This is actually lesser than the calorie content of a medium baked white potato, estimated to be around 115 calories.

They are also rich in potassium as a large sweet potato cooked along with the skin can provide up to 850 milligrams. The nutrient plays an important role in metabolism, muscle strength, heart health, nervous system function, and more.

"They also have magnesium, which promotes GABA secretion in the brain — a relaxation-inducing neurotransmitter," said Vincent Pedre, M.D., gut health specialist and member of Mind Body Green.

Furthermore, they are a great option for a healthful snack, be it during your afternoon slump or even later than that. "And as a complex carb, they digest slowly, providing the steady energy your body needs to make it through the night in a fasting state," Pedre added.

This also means that the root vegetable will not lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar levels, making them an appropriate snack for people with type 2 diabetes. One cup of baked sweet potato contains around six grams of fiber — of course, make sure to consume them with the skin on to maximize your fiber intake.

They can be eaten a few hours before exercising in order to "give your body the long-lasting energy to power through a tough endurance workout, like running or cycling," Prevention also points out. "What’s more, you’ll get a dose of electrolytes in the form of potassium to help balance the fluids in your body."

While the sweet potato provides a good amount of vitamin C, one cup packs a whopping 400 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. According to Health, both nutrients are important for keeping your immune system in good shape. 

With that being said, moderation should not be compromised as sweet potatoes still do contain a fair amount of sugar. Laura Flores, a nutritionist based in San Diego, also told Live Science about a side effect where one may find changes in the appearance of their skin and nails if they consume too much.

"While there aren't any severe health problems associated with sweet potatoes, they are high in vitamin A, which the body stores," she said. "When levels get too high, you may notice your skin and nails looking a little orange."

People who have a history of kidney stones should also avoid consuming too much of sweet potatoes as they may contribute to their formation due to the presence of oxalate.

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