Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato, annotated
Photo: Alexandra Shytsman 

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and delicious food choice. They are easy to prepare and available all year long. If you are looking for an all-natural source of quality carbohydrate that is gluten-free and chock-full of nutrition, then get cooking with sweet potatoes. You can even use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes at mealtime.

White potatoes and sweet potatoes are related, but they differ in calorie count and nutrition. Both members of the tuber family, sweet potatoes rank lower on the glycemic index chart, meaning they tend to raise blood sugar at a slower pace. 

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one medium (130g) raw sweet potato.

  • Calories: 112
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 72mg
  • Carbohydrates: 26g
  • Fiber: 3.9g
  • Sugars: 5.4g
  • Protein: 2g

Carbs in Sweet Potato

One medium sweet potato contains about 112 calories and 26 grams of carbohydrate (equivalent to almost two slices of bread). Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber, providing about four grams or roughly 16 percent of your daily needs. Sweet potatoes also provide over five grams of naturally occurring sugar and over 16 grams of starch.

The glycemic index of sweet potato may vary based on preparation method but can range from about 45 to over 90.

Fats in Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are almost completely fat-free.

Protein in Sweet Potato

A medium sweet potato provides about two grams of protein.

Micronutrients in Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. 

Significant minerals in sweet potatoes include potassium, copper, and manganese.

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes 

The nutrients in sweet potatoes provide health benefits. Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that is critical in maintaining eye health and is essential for immune function. Vitamin A is also important in cell development.

Sweet potatoes are also a good source of carotenoids, lutein and beta carotene—important for eye health. And vitamin C in sweet potatoes can help to protect our cells from damage.

Lastly, the phytonutrients in sweet potatoes also have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Common Questions About Sweet Potatoes

How many calories are in sweet potato fries?

Sweet potato fries contain about the same amount of calories as white potato French fries. The difference is that sweet potatoes contain more vitamin A than white potatoes and they have a lower glycemic index, which means they are likely to raise blood sugars at a slower rate.

One three-ounce serving of sweet potatoes, contains roughly 160 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 23 grams of carbohydrate. Keep in mind, that a side order of sweet potato fries at a restaurant yields about 350-450 calories, 20 grams fat, and 50 grams of carbohydrate. 

How many calories are in a yam?

One cup of raw yams contains about 158 calories, whereas one cup of raw sweet potatoes contains about 114 calories. Therefore, yams contain about 44 more calories than sweet potatoes for an equal portion.

Can sweet potatoes and yams be used interchangeably?

Sweet potatoes are sweeter than yams, but they can be used interchangeably. They come in two varieties: one that has a dry mealy texture (known as the bonaito), white or Cuban sweet potato, and another that has a darker orange and moister flesh and is higher in sugar. This type is known as a red sweet potato. Both varieties have thick skins that range in color, from light tan to brownish red.

What is the best way to select a sweet potato?

Choose potatoes that are heavy and firm with clean skin and few eyes. Avoid potatoes that have sprouts, soft spots, cracks, or cut edges.

You can also purchase vacuum-packed sweet potatoes, which are typically found in a spiced or sugary sauce. To the extent available, choose the unsweetened variety because it contains less sugar and carbohydrate.

Lastly, purchase frozen sweet potatoes if you are not using them right away. Simply steam or saute them for a convenient and nutrient dense side dish. Typically, frozen foods can last in the freezer for about a year. Check the best buy date for more information.

What is the best way to store sweet potatoes?

Do not store raw sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. Instead, store them in a dark place between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Most potatoes will last about a month this way, some longer. Do not wash potatoes until they are ready to be used.

Recipes and Preparation Tips 

Sweet potatoes can be boiled, baked, roasted, grilled, whipped, pureed, and, less ideally, fried. They can serve as a side dish or be tossed into salads, chili, protein-packed muffins, and bread. Make them spicy or slightly sweet by using cinnamon and nutmeg to flavor them.

To save time, you can easily 'bake" your sweet potatoes in the microwave. The skin won't be as crispy, but still will be delicious. 

If you are mashing or whipping your sweet potatoes, skip ingredients like heavy cream, orange juice, and add some rosemary and Parmesan instead for a savory flare.

Make a mock "sweet potato French fry" in the oven by baking them at high heat with some herbs and spices. 

Try using sweet potatoes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are an easy, inexpensive and versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a healthy meal plan.

Allergies and Interventions

There are reports of sweet potatoes inducing food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), a condition that can affect young children. There are also limited reports of allergic reactions to sweet potato. If you suspect an allergy to this food, seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Article Sources

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