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Articles Fitness Nutrition

The Nutrition of Sweet Potatoes

Sep 16, 2010

Sweet potatoes are actually only distant relatives to potatoes. As a plant, they go by the name of dicotyledonous, and they belong to the family of Convolvulaceae. Throughout many parts of North America, sweet potatoes that are of the orange and softer variety are simply known as yams. This is to differentiate that variety from the other kind, which is a more firm, white one. Since yams are actually a distinct vegetable apart from sweet potatoes, the US Department of Agriculture actually mandates that sweet potatoes that are tagged as yams also be identified as actual sweet potatoes. While sweet potato leaves and shoots are good for eating, too, their tuberous and starchy roots are by far the most popular part of the vegetable.

High in Carbohydrates

Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates. A helping of 3.5 ounces of sweet potatoes will net you just over 20 grams of carbohydrates. This can both be a pro and a con. It all comes down to what you like to do and how you like to spend your time. If you are an athlete, or even if you just like to work out to stay in shape or even for fun, then eating sweet potatoes will be advantageous for you because of the energy that they will provide. Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy for living organisms. However, if you want to lose weight, then you ought to stay away from carbohydrates. Diets like the Atkins Diet are very strong advocates against carbohydrates in your meals.

Dietary Fiber Content

Dietary fiber is also found in sweet potatoes. A 3.5 ounce serving of sweet potatoes contains 3 grams of dietary fiber. While this is not as plentiful an amount of fiber as you could get if you started eating bran cereal, every amount of fiber that you can take in helps. Fiber is essential in promoting not only healthy bowel movements, but also the health of your digestive system and colon. Eat enough fiber, and you stand a promising chance of never getting constipation. As far as more serious diseases go, eat enough fiber and your chances of developing cancer of the colon fall dramatically, on account of the cleansing effect fiber has on your bowels.

Very Low in Fat

Sweet potatoes are very low in fat, with one 3.5 serving of them including a very negligible 0.1 gram. Most of the weight gain-inducing properties in sweet potatoes are found in their high carbohydrate content. So when you're enjoying your sweet potatoes, remember that fat is not something you have to worry about. If you like to eat your sweet potatoes with other foods or condiments that are high in fat, you should take caution to remember that you are neutralizing the low fat content in the sweet potatoes.

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