Sweet Potatoes (2024)

The Nutrition Source

Sweet Potatoes (1)

Sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh, though the hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display colors such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Although they are often found on holiday tables covered in marshmallows or mixed with added sweeteners, there’s no need! True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are also one of the top sources of beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A.

Unlike a potato (edible tubers of the nightshade family), the sweet “potato” is a large edible root within the morning glory family. They’re also different from yams, which are edible tubers within the lily family and native to Africa and Asia. Chances are the “yams” found in your local supermarket are actually a variety of sweet potato. True yams are distinguishable by their blackish/brown, bark-like skin and white or purple-toned flesh.

Source Of

Sweet Potatoes and Health

  • Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are richest in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant “phyto” chemicals that give vegetables their bright colors. These phytochemicals are researched for their potential role in human health and disease prevention.
  • If swapping sweet potatoes for white potatoes, you’ll still want to go easy on the portions: Though sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene, they have a highglycemic index and glycemic load—almost as high as that of a white potato. Most people don’t eat sweet potatoes in the same over-sized quantities as they do white potatoes, which is perhaps why research studies haven’t found sweet potatoes to be a major culprit for weight gain and diabetes.

Sweet Potatoes (2)


  1. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place. They are more perishable than you might think, so it is best to use them within a week of purchase.
  2. Before cooking, scrub the skins well as these are edible and nutritious.
  3. Pierce the potato with a fork 4-5 times, which allows steam to escape.
    • If cooking in an oven, place on a lined baking sheet in a preheated oven to 400 F. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until flesh is tender. Allow potatoes to cool a few minutes before slicing.
    • If microwaving, place on a microwave-safe dish and heat on high 8-10 minutes. Turn potatoes bottom side up halfway through cooking to ensure even heating. Allow potatoes to cool a few minutes before slicing.
  4. If boiling on the stove, peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Rinse well in a colander. Transfer potatoes to a pot and add water until cubes are completely covered. On medium-high heat, cover the pot and let potatoes simmer until tender, usually about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and season as desired.


  • Add cooked, diced sweet potatoes to soups or salads.
  • For a quick meal, slice a baked sweet potato in half and top with cooked beans, broccoli, and feta cheese or Greek yogurt.
  • For mashed sweet potatoes: Use a fork, masher, or blender to puree the cooked potatoes. Add liquid such as water, broth, or milk if a smoother consistency is desired. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, spices, or herbs as desired.
  • Sweet Potatoes (3)For roasted sweet potato wedges: Wash and cut a medium sweet potato into wedges. Coat with olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and herbs or spices if desired. Bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes or until the insides are tender and the outsides are crisp.

More recipe ideas and serving suggestions featuring sweet potatoes:

Did You Know?

  • In addition to the root, sweet potato leaves and shoots are also edible and commonly eaten in some countries.
  • Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes. Cooking with the skin on further helps to minimize leaching of nutrients including beta-carotene and vitamin C.

Terms of Use

The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.

Sweet Potatoes (2024)


Are sweet potatoes good for you? ›

Sweet potatoes are full of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber to support your eye, digestive and heart health. They're generally safe to eat daily, especially if you eat them with calcium to prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones. There are so many fun and tasty ways to eat sweet potatoes.

Is sweet potato high in sugar? ›

The bottom line. Sweet potatoes can have a low, medium, or high glycemic index depending on how they're cooked and prepared. Boiled sweet potatoes affect blood sugar levels far less than other varieties, such as fried, roasted, or baked versions. Longer boiling times reduce the GI further.

Which is healthier yams or sweet potatoes? ›

Although both veggies are very close in fiber, protein, vitamin C, and magnesium, sweet potatoes are the healthier option because they are lower in overall calories, lower in carbohydrates, and higher in beta carotene (vitamin A).

Is it better to boil or bake sweet potatoes? ›

Baking can also cause an 80% drop in vitamin A levels, twice as much as boiling. Therefore, from a nutritional standpoint, boiling rather than baking should be recommended for cooking sweet potato.

What is the healthiest way to eat sweet potatoes? ›

Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes.

When not to eat sweet potatoes? ›

How to tell if sweet potatoes have gone bad. If your sweet potato is soft in spots, smells rotten, or oozes a mysterious liquid, that potato should be discarded. Another sign that sweet potatoes have taken a turn for the worse is if they start growing stalky purplish sprouts.

Can I eat sweet potatoes every day? ›

If knowing the benefits of sweet potatoes has you ready to eat them regularly, you may be wondering if the adage “too much of a good thing” applies. While both our experts say eating a sweet potato a day is certainly healthy, they don't recommend more than that, since there are plenty of other vegetables to enjoy too.

Can I eat sweet potatoes for weight loss? ›

Absolutely. Besides their health benefits, sweet potatoes are a great addition to any weight loss diet. First up, they're very high in fibre — especially soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is excellent because it slows down your digestion and helps you feel full, which can curb the urge to snack between meals.

Is sweet potato a superfood? ›

Sweet potatoes earned the name "superfood" because of the amount of nutrients they have. Studies show they may help with: Cancer. Carotenoids in sweet potatoes might lower your risk for cancer.

Is sweet potato healthier than rice? ›

While both are high in vitamins and minerals sweet potato has the highest level of beta carotene and Vitamin A among root vegetables both of which are powerful natural antioxidants. Brown rice is also a great source of selenium which in addition to fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

What are the healthiest potatoes to eat? ›

All potatoes can fit into a healthy diet, but purple potatoes, red potatoes, and sweet potatoes—which are often grouped with potatoes—stand out due to their high amounts of protective plant compounds and essential nutrients.

Can you eat sweet potato skin? ›

You can eat sweet potato skin. It's a good source of fiber, a nutrient that may help lower the risk of heart disease and keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. The next time you make a sweet potato dish, whether it's a roasted side dish or a hearty, cozy casserole, leave the peel on.

Is microwaving sweet potatoes healthy? ›

Can You Cook Sweet Potatoes in the Microwave? Yes, you can! In fact, the shorter cook time will help the sweet potatoes retain more nutrients that are often lost in the long oven-baking process. It's not all that different than baking a sweet potato in the oven, except it's a whole lot faster.

Why do you soak sweet potatoes before baking? ›

The cold water bath helps rinse the starch off the sweet potatoes so they're a bit more crispy. That said, if you do not have the time, you can still get crispy baked sweet potato fries by using high heat and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Should I peel sweet potatoes? ›

Nope, sweet potato skin is tender and can add amazing texture, especially to roasted sweet potato cubes. If you do plan on peeling, be sure to do it before slicing or dicing; your job will be much easier.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Barbera Armstrong

Last Updated:

Views: 5973

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Barbera Armstrong

Birthday: 1992-09-12

Address: Suite 993 99852 Daugherty Causeway, Ritchiehaven, VT 49630

Phone: +5026838435397

Job: National Engineer

Hobby: Listening to music, Board games, Photography, Ice skating, LARPing, Kite flying, Rugby

Introduction: My name is Barbera Armstrong, I am a lovely, delightful, cooperative, funny, enchanting, vivacious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.