Sweet Potatoes: The Super Spud You Should Be Eating

Do you have a meat-and-potatoes family? You're far from alone. But if you want ramp up the nutrition in your side dishes, opt for sweet potatoes. This colorful relative of the white potato lends itself to a multitude of dishes while providing a hearty helping of nutrients and vitamins. Read on to find out why this vivid orange vegetable is a dietary star:

You'd be hard pressed to find a better source of beta carotene than the sweet potato—it's got four times the recommended daily amount (with the skin on) of this carotenoid. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A, which the body uses to maintain vision, preserve and enhance the immune system, and promote bone development. White potatoes just can't compete when it comes to beta carotene.

Tip: To maximize your absorption of the sweet potato's nutrients, make sure to eat it with a small amount of fat: Add cooked, diced sweet potato and avocado cubes to a salad, or slice a sweet potato into strips and drizzle with olive oil before baking at high heat to create delicious sweet-potato "fries."

Fiber. Sweet potatoes are at the top of the heap when it comes to this filling nutrient that reduces cholesterol and keeps your digestive system running smoothly. You'll get four grams of fiber in one sweet potato (with the skin on). Compare that with three grams of fiber in a white potato.

Vitamin C. You probably up your intake of C to ward off colds and other diseases. Fortunately, sweet potatoes are stellar in this area—one baked spud gives you 35 percent of your recommended daily allowance, slightly more than a white potato.

Manganese. This trace element plays many roles in the body, including regulating thyroid function and blood-sugar levels and maintaining bone health, and is more plentiful in sweet potatoes than in white ones.

Bang for the calorie buck. You get a lot of nutrients for the 100 calories you'll ingest in the average medium sweet potato (white potatoes have about 30 percent more calories). And it's a complex carbohydrate, meaning it takes longer to digest and break down into glucose, which can help minimize the blood-sugar swings you might experience with refined carbs.

Versatility. You can steam a sweet potato, bake it, mash it and mix it with maple syrup, puree it into a soup, or slice it and fry it into sweet-potato chips. Its creamy texture and mild, sweet taste are sure to win over the diehard white-potato fans in your family. So for your next family dinner, give the sweet potato a place at the table.

Alison Massey, MS, RD, reviewed this article.



"White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes." The Cleveland Clinic. http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/03/white-potatoes-vs-sweet-potatoes-which-is-healthier/, accessed September 25, 2013.

"Sweet Potato Nutrition." North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission Foundation, http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/nutrition/, accessed September 21, 2013; "Manganese."

University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/manganese, accessed September 27, 2013.