As you may be aware of the fact that all vegetables contain carbohydrates but you may not know that carbohydrates are subdivided into three categories: fiber, sugar, and starch. Starch is the most common form of carbohydrates that we consume in our daily diet.
In this article, we will provide you with an answer to this question: is a sweet potato a vegetable or starch?
As far as sweet potatoes are concerned, they are considered starchy root vegetables. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants.
Sweet potatoes have a bad reputation because of their starchiness. People with diabetes always fear having sugar spikes especially after eating a sweet potato. But these starchy vegetables are a great source of energy and nutrition for those who consume them moderately.
The Nutritional Value of Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is rich in antioxidants called beta-carotene which helps boost vitamin A in children. Unlike a potato, a tuber, a sweet potato is basically a root vegetable that grows underground. It is rich in nutrients and fibers that make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Sweet potatoes can be consumed boiled, fried, steamed, or even in baked form.
Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors such as orange, yellow, red, white, pink, and purple. In many parts of North America, they are also called yam, although it is completely a different species.
The nutrients that 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of sweet potatoes provides include:
- 77% water
- 86 calories
- 2g sugar
- 6g protein
- 1g carbs
- 1g fat
- 3g fiber
Starch can be divided into three classes based on how better they are digested:
- Starch digested rapidly: (80%) – this type of starch is absorbed quickly by the body, thus raising your glycemic count
- Starch digested slowly: (9%) – this type of starch is absorbed slowly by the body. It helps maintain blood sugar level
- Resistant starch: (11%): This type of starch acts like fiber as it feeds your gut bacteria to stimulate the digestive process.
When sweet potatoes are cooked, they become relatively rich in fiber. A medium-sized sweet potato is enriched with 3 grams of fiber. The fiber present in the vegetable contains both soluble (5-23%) and insoluble (77-85%) properties in the form of pectin, cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose.
Soluble fibers like pectin may be the reason behind the satiated feeling. It works to reduce blood sugar spikes, thereby decreasing food intake due to the slowing down of the digestion process.
An increased amount of insoluble fibers has often been associated with reduced diabetes risks, improved gut strength, and other health benefits.
Sweet potatoes contain a small amount of protein as well, that’s the reason why it’s not considered a good source of protein. A medium-sized potato contains only 2g of protein that includes sprain (that makes up to 80% of the protein in sweet potato).
Sweet potato is a good source of vitamin A. A cup of cooked sweet potato provides 18,869 international units (IU) of vitamin A as compared to white potatoes that provide only 11 international units of vitamin A. According to the CDC, adults have to meet the requirements of 3000 IU of vitamin A daily. This means that a small serving of sweet potato is enough to meet the daily intake of vitamin A.
It is better to consume sweet potato as it is rich in vitamin A content. It comes packed with numerous health benefits including, but not limited to: good vision, healthy skin, and improved immune system.
You can substitute white potatoes with sweet potatoes in many recipes. Just like potatoes, sweet potatoes can be fried, baked, and roasted. You can consume sweet potatoes with some amount of fat to facilitate the absorption of vitamin A in your body.
You can apply a light coating of healthy oil on sweet potatoes before baking. You can mix herbs with mashed potatoes to make a healthy snack.
Forego fatty milk and butter to make your mashed potatoes healthier. Besides you can add non-fat milk with plain yogurt or cottage cheese. Both cottage cheese and yogurt come with low-fat content. You can use both of them with your mashed potato recipe to make it a protein-rich diet. You can also sprinkle herbs, parsley, and green onions to give your mashed potatoes a unique taste.