Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods known and are ranked as the top nutritional vegetable by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The skins of sweet potatoes contain a number of additional nutrients, so it is beneficial to eat your sweet potato with the skin. Scrub them well first to remove any dirt then cook according to preference.
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The skin of sweet potatoes is high in fiber. A serving of sweet potato baked in the skin provides more fiber than a serving of oatmeal, with a medium baked sweet potato with the skin providing 5 grams of fiber. Men younger than the age of 51 should have at least 38 grams of fiber a day. Women younger than 51 should have 25 grams of fiber. These numbers go down slightly as you age. Fiber has a number of potential health benefits, including normalizing bowel movements, lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar.
Sweet potatoes baked with the skin are loaded with beta carotene. A medium size sweet potato has four times the recommended daily value of beta carotene at 26081.9 international units per serving. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that is converted into vitamin A in the body. The health benefits of vitamin A are extensive as it helps to improve eyesight and prevent or treat certain eye conditions. The vitamin strengthens the immune system and may help treat or prevent cancer, according to eMedTV.
Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Folate
Sweet potatoes with skin also have the essential nutrients, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate. A sweet potato has 29.51 milligrams of vitamin C, nearly half the recommended daily value. A serving of sweet potatoes provides 100 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin E with no saturated fat. Sweet potatoes also have 18.2 micrograms of folate per serving. Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants that may protect against a number of diseases by improving your immune system, says University of Maryland Medical Center.
Potassium and Iron
Sweet potato skins are a good source of potassium. A medium sized sweet potato baked with the skin has 542 milligrams of potassium. Even though the recommended daily intake of potassium is 4,700 milligrams, a sweet potato has one of the higher contents of the nutrient. The skin is also a good source of iron. Especially for people who do not eat meat, the iron found in sweet potato skins is an important nutrient.
- Sweet Potato Blessings: Sweet Potato Ranks #1 in Nutrition by CSPI
- National Fiber Council: Fiber in Your Pantry
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Sweet potato, Cooked, Baked in Skin, Without Salt
- Nutrition Vista; Oh! Sweet Potato. How Sweet is Your Nutrition?; December 2008
- eMedTV; Benefits of Vitamin A; Kristi Monson; October 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Vitamins - Dietary Health Benefits; Harvey Simon; February 2009
- Netrition: Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency