Sweet potatoes are a nutritional godsend thanks to a host of benefits that rival even the most complete multivitamin.
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Just one cup of baked sweet potato provides nearly half of your daily vitamin C needs, Cynthia Sass, RD, CSSD, an NYC- and LA-based performance nutritionist, tells LIVESTRONG.com. And that same portion also supplies 214 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A — both of which are vital for immune function, lung, eye and skin health, Sass says. That's a pretty special spud — especially when you compare it to regular potatoes.
To get the most out of your sweet potatoes, Sass recommends choosing organic ones (especially if you are eating the skin) and looking for sweet potatoes that are firm with no cracks, soft spots or bruises. She also recommends storing them at room temperature and using them within a week or two of purchasing.
For our favorite sweet potato recipes, keep scrolling.
1. Curry Sweet Potato and Rice Salad
Sauté sweet potatoes along with some onion on a stovetop for six to eight minutes or bake them with olive oil to get those naturally sweet, caramelized flavors going.
In addition to sweet potatoes' antioxidants that protect our skin and cells from damage, Sass says that one cup of sweet potato delivers a third of your daily needs for manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promotes skin and bone health. Low levels of manganese in the blood or tissue have been associated with several chronic diseases, per Oregon State University, deeming it an important tool in your arsenal of micronutrients.
Get the Curry Sweet Potato and Rice Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Harissa Sweet Potato Fries
If you're following a gluten-free or grain-free diet, sweet potatoes are the perfect way to get your fiber in.
This recipe for sweet potato "fries" hits the right note thanks to being baked, not fried. Just watch your portions: For most people, stick to half a cup of cooked sweet potatoes, Sass recommends, adding that your sweet potato side should be combined with about two cups of non-starchy veggies, a portion of lean protein and a source of healthy fat."
Get the Harissa Sweet Potato Fries recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Spicy Tempeh, Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Hash
This recipe calls for tempeh, a plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans. Just one serving supplies your daily requirement of copper and more than your daily recommended intake of manganese. Both of these minerals are needed to support tissue repair while promoting cellular communication in the brain, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Oregon State University.
Because tempeh is a mild, nutty-flavored protein, the dish's flavor profile goes full spectrum — from sweet to spicy — thanks to the sweet potatoes and the jalapeños.
Get the Spicy Tempeh, Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Hash recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Cheesy High-Protein, Twice-Baked Sweet Potato
"One cup of sweet potatoes with the skin on provides 950 milligrams of potassium. That's more than twice the amount in a medium banana," Sass says. Why is potassium so important? "It supports heart function, muscle contractions, prevents muscle cramps and helps maintain muscle mass."
In addition to delivering all the goodness of sweet potatoes, this recipe calls for low-fat versions of cheddar and cottage cheese for some extra calcium and protein.
Get the Cheesy High-Protein, Twice-Baked Sweet Potato recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
This sweet potato recipe, inspired by shepherd's pie, is a must-have winter comfort food. This meal fits into Sass's recommendation to pair sweet potatoes with other food groups to create a healthy macronutrient balance — it incorporates lean meat and plenty of vegetables to your meals to create a satisfying and balanced lunch or dinner.
Another benefit of sweet potatoes? "The fiber content of sweet potatoes makes them a slow-burning starch, meaning they provide sustained fuel rather than an energy spike followed by a crash. Just one cup of baked sweet potato contains about six grams of fiber, which is more than a quarter of the daily recommended minimum," Sass says.
Get the Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Sweet Potato Nachos
Cut the refined carbs in your usual nacho plate and go for crafting the game-day crowd-pleaser with sweet potatoes instead. This colorful recipe features avocado, black beans, cheese and bright spices such as cumin and chili. You'll get 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in each serving.
Fun fact: Sweet potatoes aren't even potatoes in the traditional sense, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They are root vegetables, like carrots, turnips and beets rather than tubers, like Jerusalem artichokes and jicama.
Get the Sweet Potato Nachos recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Breakfast Cookies
Satisfy that sweet tooth in the morning with this sweet potato-based cookie that won't wreck your diet. And while we don't recommend eating these for breakfast every day, you will get a beta-carotene boost first thing in the morning thanks to the orange-hued vegetable.
Whole grains, oats and pecans along with sweet potato equal a quadruple dose of fiber, which will help promote a healthy gut and aid in digestion. Fiber is linked to helping reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, per the Mayo Clinic.
Get the Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Breakfast Cookies recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Sweet Potato Protein Hash
This sweet potato hash can be prepped in a bigger batch ahead of time, saving you crucial meal-making minutes. Store the spiced, baked sweet potato cubes in an airtight container until you're ready to use them.
Pop a serving of the sweet potato hash into a sauté pan and once warmed, add your favorite protein like tempeh (if you're keeping it vegetarian) or an egg. Add hemp seeds for an extra boost of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Get the Sweet Potato Protein Hash recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Purple Sweet Potato Hummus
"The pigment that gives purple sweet potatoes their gorgeous hue has particularly potent antioxidant properties," Sass says. And sweet potatoes with purple flesh pack in more anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant, than their orange-colored cousins, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Anthocyanins are shown to play a role in preventing diseases, while purple sweet potatoes are tied to helping to lower and regulate blood pressure, according to a January 2012 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
We can't think of a better way to incorporate this healthy root vegetable than by combining it with protein and fiber-rich chickpeas — which takes your basic hummus and turns it into something spectacular. Leftovers can be stored up to three days, but we're pretty confident there won't be any left to store.
Get the Purple Sweet Potato Hummus recipe and nutrition info here.
10. Breakfast Nachos With Sweet Potato Waffle Fries
For a great way to jump-start the day, look no further than these breakfast nachos that feature sweet potato waffle fries as a base. Thanks to the slow-burning fiber of the sweet potatoes, you'll avoid that mid-morning energy crash.
Building from there, add bacon, eggs and black beans for hunger-curbing protein. Slices of avocados, while tasty, provide many health benefits. This green fruit contains healthy fats, fiber and other important nutrients your body needs — like folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C, E and K, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Get the Breakfast Nachos With Sweet Potato Waffle Fries, Black Beans, Shiitake Bacon and Eggs recipe and nutrition info here.
Read more: Sweet Potatoes and Weight Loss
- NutritionFacts.org: “Sweet Potatoes”
- Oregon State University: “Manganese”
- National Institutes of Health: “Copper”
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Sweet Potatoes”
- Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry: “High-Antioxidant Potatoes: Acute in Vivo Antioxidant Source and Hypotensive Agent in Humans After Supplementation to Hypertensive Subjects”
- Cedars-Sinai: “In Case You Need a Reason to Eat More Avocado”