Whether you eat them baked, fried, mashed, or topped with marshmallows, sweet potatoes are a delicious and healthy addition to any meal plan. That’s likely why sweet potato consumption in the U.S. is growing with every passing year, with Americans eating an average of 7.5 pounds of sweet potatoes annually in 2015—up from just 4.2 pounds in 2000. However, it’s not just your taste buds that will benefit when you enjoy these palatable potatoes. Read on to discover what happens to your body when you eat sweet potatoes, according to experts. And for more great additions to your diet, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Want to enjoy a more comfortable, less bloated belly? Try adding some sweet potatoes to your regular routine.
“Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and can help prevent constipation,” says Travis Blanchard, RD, founder of Splash Bytes. In fact, according to a 2017 in vitro study published in Functional Foods in Health and Disease, consumption of sweet potatoes was also associated with an improvement in beneficial gut bacteria.
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Want to keep from cramping up after an intense workout? Instead of a protein bar, try a sweet potato.
“Although, calorie for calorie, sweet potatoes are the same as regular potatoes, they do have fiber, antioxidants, and a surprising amount of potassium found in both the flesh and skin of the potato,” says Meghan Sedivy, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Fresh Thyme Market. “In fact, they contain twice the amount of potassium found in a banana,” which may reduce your risk of potassium-deficiency-related cramps.
In case you’re curious, here’s The Real Difference Between Brown and Sweet Potatoes.
If you want to protect your eye health, sweet potatoes might just be the tastiest way to achieve that goal.
“Their bright orange color makes them packed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C to support vision health,” says Sedivy.
In fact, according to research conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the beta-carotene found in foods like sweet potatoes was associated with a lower rate of vision decline among individuals with retinis pigmentosa, which can cause night blindness and a loss of peripheral vision.
Here are The 12 Best Vitamin A Foods For Skin, Hair, and Eye Health.
If it feels like you get every cold that’s going around, adding some sweet potatoes to your regular meal plan may provide some protection.
“Not only are sweet potatoes extremely high in vitamin A, they are also high in vitamin C. Both of these vitamins work in your body to enhance your immune system and help you to fight off infections,” says Megan Byrd, RD, founder of The Oregon Dietitian, citing a study published in the journal Nature Reviews Immunology. “Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to decreased immunity, especially with GI and respiratory infections.”
And if you want to give your immune system a leg up, check out the 30 Best Immune-Boosting Foods.
Consider sweet potatoes an essential tool in your arsenal against high cholesterol.
“Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which can help lower LDL cholesterol,” says Diana Gariglio-Clelland, the staff dietitian at Next Luxury.
Looking for an easy way to fend off those voices telling you to reach for a less-than-healthy snack between meals? If you eat sweet potatoes regularly, you might just be able to kiss those cravings goodbye.
“Sweet potatoes are a fabulous source of carbohydrates and soluble fiber,” says Rachel Fine, MS, RD, owner of To The Pointe Nutrition. “Soluble fiber helps to slow digestion, which not only promotes a steady release of both insulin and leptin, but also further promotes that ‘full feeling’ during a meal, helping you to naturally manage portions.”
And for more ways to fight that peckish instinct, check out these 14 Healthy Snacks That Will Actually Make You Feel Full.