Sweet potatoes have long been considered a super food by many. It is naturally low in fat, high in fiber and full of many different nutrients. Can sweet potatoes help you lose weight?
While there is no one magic food that can shed pounds, eating sweet potatoes as part of a healthy, balanced diet may be beneficial during weight loss.
Here is a closer look at the benefits of sweet potatoes and how eating them may help with weight loss.
Sweet Potatoes are low in calories
If you want weight loss, a founding principle is that your energy intake should be less than your energy output. Having a diet comprised mainly of healthy lower calorie foods, with some healthy fats, can be a smart choice for weight loss.
Sweet potatoes would fall into the healthy low calorie food category because they have a large volume, meaning you can eat a large portion without eating a high amount of energy.
A medium sweet potato provides about 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrate and around 4 grams of protein. A medium sweet potato is a fairly generous portion and can serve as a substantial part of a meal.
For successful weight loss, it is key to eat foods that satisfy you and provide nutrients for the calories they offer. Sweet potatoes offer many important nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, phytochemicals and potassium.
Sweet Potatoes are full of fiber
Some people may think they need to avoid sweet potatoes during weight loss because some believe they need to avoid all carbohydrate foods. This myth is not valid. It is beneficial to avoid highly processed foods and foods high in added sugar, but fruits and vegetables need not be avoided when trying to lose weight.
Eating foods high in fiber can also help keep the digestive tract healthy and lower risk for constipation and bloating.
A medium sweet potato provides about 6 grams of fiber. The average female adult needs about 25 grams of fiber per day, so eating just one sweet potato can provide about 25% of fiber needs for the day.
Eating foods high in fiber can help increase satiety and may lower appetite through the day.
Many research studies confirm the conclusion that a high fiber diet can be beneficial for weight loss. For example, a 2006 study found that overweight men and women who followed a high fiber diet lost more weight than overweight subjects who followed a low fiber higher fat diet.
See also: Can fiber help you lose weight?
The glycemic index is a way to measure a food’s effect on blood sugar after digestion. Foods with a high glycemic index would be white bread, candy, etc. Because sweet potatoes are so high in fiber, the glycemic index for sweet potatoes is considered low. Eating a diet that is high in high glycemic index foods may increase risk for type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
The fiber in sweet potatoes slows the release of carbohydrates from digestion into the blood stream. Stabilizing blood sugar can be important for weight loss and weight maintenance because high blood sugar levels promote high levels of insulin. Insulin, among other functions, can help promote fat storage which is obviously not desired during weight loss.
Sweet potatoes are a natural source of the antioxidant beta carotene as are all orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene has many health benefits including potentially helping to lower risk for some types of cancer.
Eating a diet high rich in fruits and vegetables can provide many antioxidants which can help lower inflammation and reduce damage to cells from free radicals. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes may also help specifically protect the eye from macular degeneration and help vision.
Uses for sweet potatoes – How to add sweet potatoes to your diet
A benefit for adding sweet potatoes in the diet is that they can be used various ways. Of course you can have a sweet potato mashed, baked or roasted like a regular potato. However, you can also add cooked sweet potato for a salad topping, in soups, casseroles or baked like chips.
You can use baked sweet potatoes in place of chips and even when you’re craving something sweet if you bake it with cinnamon.
Sweet potatoes offer many health benefits; they are rich in fiber, beta carotene and other antioxidants, potassium and low in calories. Most of the calories from sweet potatoes are from carbohydrates, but since sweet potatoes are high in fiber they are considered a low glycemic index food. Low glycemic index foods may help with weight loss because they promote stable blood sugar levels.
Sweet potatoes can be used in many different ways and can even be used in place of chips or sweet cravings. Since they are high in fiber, eating sweet potatoes give a high satiety meaning they keep you satisfied for a long time.
References used in this article