Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

sweet potato nutrition facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious food that has a sweet, earthy flavor and several nutrients including fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. They are primarily a source of carbohydrates with virtually no fat, low sodium, and very little protein. Sweet potatoes are low in sugar and the sugar they contain is natural.

Add sweet potatoes to casseroles, and soups, or cook as a side dish. Learn more about sweet potato nutrition facts and benefits below.

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts

One large sweet potato (180g) provides 162 calories, 3.6g of protein, 37g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 162
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 71mg
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 3.9g
  • Sugars: 5.4g
  • Protein: 3.6g
  • Vitamin A: 1730mcg
  • Vitamin C: 35.3mg
  • Potassium: 855mg

Carbs

A large sweet potato has 37 grams of carbohydrates, with about 5 grams of naturally occurring sugar and about 4 grams of fiber. Sweet potatoes are not considered a high-sugar food.

The glycemic index (GI) of sweet potato varies based on the preparation method and variety. Boiled sweet potatoes may have a GI as low as 41, while the value of roasted sweet potatoes can be as high as 93.

Fats

Sweet potatoes are almost completely fat-free unless fat is added while cooking.

Protein

One large baked sweet potato provides about 3.6 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sweet potatoes are especially high in vitamin A and potassium. They also provide some calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate.

Calories

One large sweet potato (180g) provides 162 calories, 90% of which come from carbs, 9% from protein, and 1% from fat.

Summary

Sweet potato is a low-calorie, fat-free, nutrient-dense source of healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C.

Health Benefits

Sweet potatoes are a filling vegetable with colorful, health-boosting nutrients. Here are a few of the benefits of adding sweet potatoes to your diet.

May Aid Cancer Prevention and Progression

Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants that have been studied for cancer prevention and treatment. Purple sweet potatoes, in particular, are high in anthocyanins, which appear to promote apoptosis (or programmed cell death) of cancer cells.

Research has shown that sweet potatoes contain certain antioxidant phytochemicals, such as phenolic compounds, carotenoids, ascorbate, and antioxidant dietary fiber, and resistant starch which can impede the progression of some forms of cancer cells.

Protects Vision

Beta carotene, which is essential for eye health, is abundant in sweet potatoes. A cup of sweet potatoes provides 11.3 milligrams of beta carotene. Supplementation of 15 milligrams of beta carotene is proven to protect against age-related macular degeneration, especially when combined with vitamin C, zinc, and copper (alsimprovedsweet potatoes).

The anthocyanins found in sweet and pigmented potatoes have been shown to improve eyesight. Sweet potatoes with their orange flesh are higher in carotenoids than other types and lutein is one dominant compound.

Lutein is concentrated in the macula of the retina in human eyes and is associated with vision health. Scientists believe diet-induced diseases and conditions related to vision can be treated with foods like sweet potatoes that contain lutein.

Supports Cardiovascular Health

The anthocyanins in sweet potatoes are also associated with anti-inflammatory effects that reduce the risk of heart disease. Specific pro-inflammatory cytokines appear to be suppressed in response to purple sweet potato extract. Additionally, the fiber in any vegetable reduces cholesterol, while the high potassium levels of sweet potatoes keep blood pressure down.

Several studies show that consuming flavonoids from plant foods such as purple sweet potatoes can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. The tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, anthraquinones, and cardiac glycosides in sweet potatoes also minimize serum creatinine and lactate-dehydrogenase activity, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Aids Diabetes Management

The American Diabetes Association considers sweet potato a low GI food that fits nicely into a healthy eating plan for diabetes management. Sweet potatoes are an excellent way to balance the intake of higher GI foods, like pineapples or pasta. Replacing regular potatoes with sweet potatoes will boost the nutrient intake of your meal with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.

Sweet potatoes contain phenolic compounds and flavonoids that have anti-diabetic effects. Flavonoids promote glucose absorption in peripheral tissue and enhance insulin secretion, both of which help regulate blood sugar levels and manage diabetes.

Allergies

Sweet potatoes are not a common allergen, but the nature of food allergies is that they can develop at any age in response to any food. Symptoms may range from rashes, vomiting, or swelling to anaphylaxis, potentially life-threatening. If you suspect an allergy to sweet potatoes, see your doctor for an individual evaluation and diagnosis.

Adverse Effects

There are very few adverse effects associated with the consumption of sweet potatoes. One minimal side effect of eating a high volume of beta-carotene-rich veggies, like sweet potatoes, carrots, or pumpkin, is that your skin can begin to take on an orange undertone.

This coloring is the result of an uncommon condition called carotenemia. Although it may seem alarming, carotenemia is not dangerous and should subside on its own with a more balanced intake of various foods.

Varieties

There are two main varieties of sweet potatoes: dry flesh and moist flesh. Dry flesh sweet potatoes have tan-colored skin and lighter flesh that's higher in starch. Moist-flesh sweet potatoes have darker skin with a richer orange interior. Moist-flesh sweet potatoes taste sweeter and are more commonly available in the supermarket.

Under these two general classifications, there are several unique species of sweet potatoes that vary in the country of origin, shape, color, size, and taste. Examples include Kumara sweet potatoes, Jersey sweet potatoes, and Cuban sweet potatoes.

The term "yams" is commonly used interchangeably with sweet potatoes; however, true yams come from an entirely different plant. Nonetheless, it's not uncommon to see sweet potatoes labeled as yams in the United States.

When They're Best

Choose fresh sweet potatoes that are heavy for their size, hard, smooth, and free of bruises. Watch out for shriveled skin, dark spots, or indentations, as these are common signs of decay. If you see a sweet potato that has sprouted, it's still okay to eat (just cut out the sprouts). You can find sweet potatoes in most grocery stores at any time of the year.

Storage and Food Safety

Instead of storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, keep them in a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal storage temperature for fresh sweet potatoes is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which they will keep for about a month or longer. If stored at warmer temperatures, try to use sweet potatoes within a week to prevent spoilage.

When ready to use your sweet potatoes, scrub the skin with a vegetable brush under running water. Dry with a paper towel. After sweet potatoes have been cut or cooked, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for use within 5 days.

How to Prepare

Sweet potatoes can be boiled, baked, roasted, grilled, whipped, pureed, and fried. They can serve as a side dish or be tossed into salads, chili, muffins, pies, and breads. Make them spicy with chili powder or slightly sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg.

You can easily bake your sweet potatoes in the microwave to save time. The skin won't be as crispy, but the sweet potato will be delicious nonetheless. If you are mashing or whipping your sweet potatoes, skip ingredients like heavy cream and add rosemary and Parmesan for a savory flair with less fat and calories.

You can also make sweet potato French "fries" in the oven by baking them at high heat with some herbs and spices. Have sweet potatoes with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They're nutritious, inexpensive, and versatile ingredients.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, without salt.

  2. Bahado-Singh PS, Riley CK, Wheatley AO, Lowe HI. Relationship between processing method and the glycemic indices of ten sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivars commonly consumed in Jamaica. J Nutr Metab. 2011;2011:584832. doi:10.1155/2011/584832

  3. Sugata M, Lin CY, Shih YC. Anti-Inflammatory and anticancer activities of Taiwanese purple-fleshed sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas L. Lam) extracts. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:768093. doi:10.1155/2015/768093

  4. Escobar-Puentes AA, Palomo I, Rodríguez L, et al. Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) phenotypes: from agroindustry to health effects. Foods. 2022;11(7):1058. doi:10.3390/foods11071058

  5. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A: Fact sheet for health professionals.

  6. Bvenura C, Witbooi H, Kambizi L. Pigmented potatoes: a potential panacea for food and nutrition security and health? Foods. 2022;11(2):175. doi:10.3390%2Ffoods11020175

  7. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium: Fact sheet for health professionals.

  8. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes superfoods.

  9. Naomi R, Bahari H, Yazid MD, Othman F, Zakaria ZA, Hussain MK. Potential effects of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) in hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia—a systematic review in diabetic retinopathy context. IJMS. 2021;22(19):10816. doi:10.3390%2Fijms221910816

  10. Food allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

  11. Cleveland Clinic. Can eating too many carrots turn your skin orange?.

  12. Berkeley Wellness. University of California. Types of sweet potatoes.