Here's How Much Protein Is Hiding In Your Plate Of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes aren't just for Thanksgiving dinner. Provided you don't bake them with marshmallows in a casserole, these tubers are loaded with nutrition. A large, baked sweet potato (180 grams) has just 162 calories, and the 6 grams of fiber will fill you up and slow down digestion so your blood sugar doesn't spike. You get a lot of nutrients in a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium and potassium, two electrolytes that support your heart's function. You'll find healthy amounts of vitamins A, B6, and C in a sweet potato, too.

The nutritional punch of sweet potatoes doesn't stop there. Sweet potatoes can support hydration because they're 75% water. Although sweet potatoes are a rich source of complex carbohydrates, they also have some protein to help support your muscle and cell repair. You won't find a ton of protein in sweet potatoes, but the 3.6 grams of protein can help you reach your daily protein goals.

Sweet potatoes are a better option than white potatoes

Even though the 3.6 grams of protein in a sweet potato seems kind of low, a medium, baked white potato (173 grams) also has 3.6 grams of protein. You might think eating white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes makes an even swap in terms of protein content, but these potatoes have less in common than you think, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Although they're both root vegetables and bear the name "potato," the sweet potato is part of the morning glory family while white potatoes are considered nightshades. Some people with inflammatory or auto-immune conditions might not be able to tolerate the solanine found in nightshades (per WebMD).

Sweet potatoes are superior to white potatoes in terms of vitamin A and beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes have more than 1,000 times more vitamin A and almost 2,000 times more beta-carotene than white potatoes. Beta-carotene is a key antioxidant that helps ward off diseases like cancer. Sweet potatoes might have more sugar (11 grams) than white potatoes (2.6 grams), but they're low on the glycemic index, which means they don't increase your blood sugar as quickly. White potatoes are high on the glycemic index (per Diabetes Canada).

Other health benefits of sweet potatoes

The soluble and insoluble fiber in sweet potatoes can improve your gut microbiome (per Healthline). Some types of fiber feed the bacteria in your gut, which create short-chain fatty acids that strengthen the lining of your intestines. Purple sweet potatoes have specific antioxidants that boost healthier gut bacteria.

A 2022 article in Foods says sweet potatoes have flavonoids and tannins that can improve your cardiovascular health by regulating your blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels. Anthocyanins, which give purple sweet potatoes their vibrant color, can protect your body against certain types of cancer such as colorectal cancer, according to a 2021 article in Molecules. Baking or microwaving your sweet potatoes helps boost these anthocyanins. Cooking your sweet potatoes also helps convert the starch to resistant starch, further lowering their GI value. You can also help your body absorb the high levels of the sweet potato's beta-carotene by adding a little fat to your sweet potato.