Can sweet potatoes help in weight loss and be safe for diabetics?

Written by Dr Manasa Lakshmi Penta

What does the mention of a root vegetable, sweet potato, mean to you? And though its roasted variety, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of masala, has almost relegated it to the category of street food, very few know that it is, in fact, the common man’s superfood. Let not the word “sweet” deter you if you are worried about your sugar levels and body weight. Yes, it helps you control both.

Sweet potato (Ipomoes batatas) also known as Shakarkand or Sakkaravalli kizhangu (Tamil) or Chilagada dumpa (Telugu) is nutritionally very rich. Unlike the starchy potato, it is replete with fibres, vitamins, proteins and minerals. A 100 gm sweet potato contains over 70 per cent water. It provides 28 gm of carbohydrates, 1.6 gm of protein and 120 calories. When cooked and eaten along with its skin, the sweet potato is a good source of fiber, providing 4 grams of fiber for every 100 grams.


The common misconception is that diabetics should avoid all foods that are grown underground otherwise known as roots and tubes. Although sweet potato is a root vegetable, when boiled and eaten with skin, it provides approximately 4 grams of fiber for every 100 grams. It provides satiety and fullness, which means it takes care of your hunger pangs.

We use glycaemic index or GI as a marker which shows how quickly and how high your blood glucose levels rise post-meal. Boiled sweet potatoes with skin have a GI of 60, which makes them a moderate GI food. This could be due to their high fiber content. So it is a great snack option and can be used as a replacement for the regular potato, which usually has a high GI. As sweet potatoes are still rich in carbohydrates, they need to be used in moderation and in portions suggested by your dietician and doctor.


Often in India, sweet potatoes are used to break religious fasts as they are good sources of carbohydrates and known to replenish depleted glycogen levels in the body. This also makes them a good post-workout snack as they replenish glycogen that gets depleted during exercise. So having sweet potatoes with skin along with a good source of protein, like paneer, dal or eggs, will make it a nourishing post-workout meal.

Since they take time to be broken down in your body, courtesy soluble fibers like pectin, they keep you fuller for longer and not crave for quick sugar fixes every time your blood glucose levels drop. Further, they also contain vitamin B5 and B6 which helps in maintaining a good metabolism that’s crucial to weight management.


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