Sweet potatoes are a versatile root vegetable that can be prepared in many ways. Whether mashed, roasted or cut into sweet potato fries, this nutrient-dense vegetable offers what plain potatoes lack.
The bright orange color of sweet potatoes signifies the presence of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that wards off chronic disease. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamins A, C and D while providing a good dose of the minerals, magnesium and potassium.
What’s more, studies show that sweet potatoes have the power to stabilize blood sugar, regulate metabolism, and ultimately help you lose weight.
With that being said, you may be wondering where sweet potatoes fit into a strict low carb diet, like Keto… Keep reading to find out.
Are Sweet Potatoes Keto Friendly?
Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates and should be limited while following the ketogenic diet. Consuming too many starchy white and orange vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams could push you over your daily carb limit. Instead, consume mostly green vegetables as they contain very few net carbs.
Low-carb veggies make great substitutes for higher-carb starchy ones. For example, mashed cauliflower is often used to make mock mashed potatoes.
How Many Carbs are in Sweet Potatoes?
One medium-sized sweet potato supplies 23 grams of net carbs. A 100 gram serving of cooked potatoes contains 17 grams of carbs. Some types of potatoes are lower in carbs than others. Keep reading to find out which types of potatoes are better suited for a low carb diet.
How Many Calories are in Sweet Potatoes?
One small sweet potato contains 112 calories. A 100 gram serving of cooked potatoes contains 86 calories. If you’re following a calorie reduction diet, it’s important to note that adding butter to your sweet potato will significantly increase the calorie count. One tablespoon of butter added to your sweet potato will add 100 calories.
|Amount: 100 grams of Sweet Potato|
|Total Fat 0.1 grams||0%|
|Saturated fat 0 grams||0%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0 grams|
|Monounsaturated fat 0 grams|
|Cholesterol 0 milligrams||0%|
|Sodium 55 milligrams||2%|
|Potassium 337 milligrams||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20 grams||6%|
|Dietary fiber 3 grams||12%|
|Sugar 4.2 grams|
|Protein 1.6 grams||3%|
|Vitamin A||283%||Vitamin C||4%|
|Vitamin D||0%||Vitamin B-6||10%|
Vitamins and Minerals
One cup of sweet potatoes contains the following nutrients:
- 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
Promotes Gut Health
Sweet potatoes contain a good amount of fiber and antioxidants that support the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Fiber-rich diets promote gut health and regular bowel movements. Fiber-rich foods like sweet potatoes are also associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
Animal and test-tube studies indicate that the anthocyanins and other antioxidants naturally occurring in sweet potatoes may protect against certain forms of cancer. Studies show that mice fed diets consisting of purple sweet potatoes showed lower rates of early-stage colon cancer. This suggests that the anthocyanins in the potatoes may have a protective effect on the colon; however, more human studies are needed to confirm these findings on humans.
Promotes Healthy Eyesight
Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene and anthocyanins, antioxidants that help prevent vision loss and eye diseases. Severe vitamin A deficiency can lead to a certain type of blindness known as “xerophthalmia”. Eating foods rich in beta-carotene, like sweet potatoes, could help prevent this eye condition along with other forms of vision decline.
Improves Brain Function
Animal studies indicate that sweet potatoes have the power to improve brain function by reducing inflammation. In fact, sweet potato extract has been shown to improve learning and memory in mice, possibly due to its antioxidant properties. It remains unknown whether sweet potatoes have the same effects in humans but this veggie appears to play a key role in the prevention of mental decline.
Sweet potatoes are exceptionally high in beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Inadequate levels of vitamin A in the body can cause a weakened immune system. The vitamin A that your body produces from beta carotene-rich foods helps strengthen your immune system so it can better respond to potential viral threats.
Sweet Potatoes are generally safe in normal food amounts.
While there aren’t any severe health problems associated with sweet potatoes, they are extremely high in vitamin A, a nutrient that the body stores. When vitamin A levels get too high, your skin and nails can give off an orange hue. However, this strange side effect should improve once you reduce sweet potato consumption.
Avoid consuming damaged or green potatoes, or potatoes that have grown sprouts. Spoiled potatoes such as these contain poisonous chemicals that cannot be destroyed through cooking. These poisonous chemicals may cause headache, flushing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, thirst, restlessness, and even death.
What Types of Potatoes are Lowest in Carbs?
While a large yellow or russet potato has about 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates, the new Carisma potato, recently cultivated by Canadian farmers, contains only 70 calories and 15 grams of carbs per 150-gram serving.
Carisma potatoes also have a 20% lower glycemic response than other types. Carisma potatoes offer a more gradual rise in blood sugar and do not cause rapid blood sugar spikes.
Purple potatoes contain only 70 calories and 15 grams of carbs per 100-gram serving. Anthocyanin, the pigment responsible for their purple color has powerful antioxidant properties offers an additional benefit. Purple potatoes contain 4 times the amount of antioxidants as russet potatoes!
Ways to Enjoy Sweet Potatoes
- Make sweet potato fries by peeling and cutting a sweet potato into wedges or sticks. These can be fried or baked in the oven using a little olive oil.
- Spiralize sweet potatoes, season them with your favorite spice mix and fry them to make spicy curly fries.
- Wash and thickly peel your sweet potatoes and fry up the sweet potato skins. Top with bacon bits and shredded cheddar and serve with sour cream.
- Puree sweet potato into soups and stews to add nutrients and creaminess to any broth.
- Cut a cooked sweet potato into thin slices, toast them, and top with ingredients like mashed avocado and garlic.
- Mash sweet potatoes with milk and butter.
- Bake sweet potatoes whole in the oven until fluffy and top with sour cream.
- Fry up a pan of hash browns made with peeled, grated sweet potato and diced onion.
- Cut and roast chunks of sweet potato, drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper.
- Add sweet potato puree to baked goods like bread and cakes to increase moistness without adding extra fat.
Are Sweet Potatoes a Complex Carbohydrate?
Simple carbohydrates like white bread, honey, and table sugar are broken down quickly by your body. Foods like these that are mostly made up of simple carbs will likely cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates contain fiber and other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that take longer for your body to digest, so they won’t cause a drastic spike in blood sugar. For example, a sweet potato packs a huge dose of vitamin A, a decent amount of fiber, and several antioxidants that contribute to good health.
Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Weight Loss?
Not only do sweet potatoes contain vital nutrients to keep you healthy as you lose weight, but they are also considered low-glycemic foods. This means that they do not cause an instant spike in blood sugar levels.
Keeping blood sugar stable helps in weight management. Additionally, foods that contain a lot of water, like fresh fruits and veggies (including sweet potatoes) also aid in weight loss.
Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Diabetics?
Research shows that sweet potatoes help to balance blood sugar in diabetic individuals because of the presence of adiponectin, a protein hormone that improves metabolism and insulin regulation. For this reason, sweet potatoes make a healthy part of a diabetic-friendly diet.
Additionally, sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes. They also provide an especially high dose of vitamin A to support eye health. The fiber in sweet potatoes aids in blood glucose control and weight management, while the potassium stabilizes blood pressure. All of these health effects are beneficial for people with diabetes.
Are Sweet Potatoes Gluten-Free?
All potatoes, including sweet potatoes, are naturally gluten-free, which makes them a perfect choice for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
While potatoes on their own are gluten-free, many popular potato dishes may contain gluten, like potato salad, chowder and potato bread recipes. Always check the full list of ingredients to ensure the product is wheat-free.