Many desserts are full of empty calories, offering little nutritional benefit. Sweet potato pie is a dessert that straddles the line between being a decadent treat and a vegetable side dish. While sweet potato pie contains fat and sugar -- certainly not desirable additions to many diets -- it also contains important disease-fighting nutrients. Make it yourself and you can turn a cheat into a healthy treat.
Sweet potato pie graces dinner tables all over the United States. A simple dish that primarily consists of sweet potatoes, eggs and sugar, it is an inexpensive dessert. A serving of sweet potato pie -- approximately 4 ounces -- contains 266 calories, according to The National Food Service Management Institute. Many of these calories come from fats and sugars. Although sweet potato pie is a fairly high-calorie treat, you’ll get healthy fiber and vitamins with each serving.
Sweet potato pie is low in fat compared to many desserts, as it only has 11 grams of fat per serving. Compare this to a serving of cheesecake, which contains 28 grams of fat. The fat in sweet potato pie comes from the eggs, milk and shortening you use in the recipe. How much of the fat is saturated depends largely on the fat composition of the shortening you use. Sweet potato pie also contains cholesterol; if you use nonfat milk and nondairy shortening, a serving of sweet potato pie will contain approximately 40 grams of cholesterol.
Protein and Carbohydrates
Eat sweet potato pie for the carbohydrates rather than the protein, as a serving contains only 4 grams of protein. It contains 37 grams of carbohydrates, however, some of which is the complex carbohydrate of the sweet potato and some of which is simple carbohydrates derived from sugar. One serving contains approximately 1.5 grams of fiber. Sweet potato pie is not appropriate for low-carb diets unless you modify the recipe significantly.
Vitamins and Minerals
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, even when they are prepared as a scrumptious dessert. A serving of sweet potato pie contains 9,471 IU of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene--a health-promoting amount. You’ll also get a bit of calcium, iron and vitamin C. These nutrients, particularly vitamin C and beta-carotene, work together to eliminate free radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer.
You can dramatically improve the nutritional profile of sweet potato pie by preparing it yourself and making healthy substitutions. A heart-healthy version requires (see Resources) requires none of the butter that is a part of most recipes for sweet potato pie. To further reduce fat and cholesterol, you can use two egg whites in lieu of each whole egg. Replace half of the sugar with a heat-stable low-calorie sweetener, such as stevia.