Their names are often used interchangeably, but the sweet potato and yam are two different types of root vegetables. A sweet potato has orange-colored flesh, while the yam has white flesh, and in most cases you may have been calling the sweet potato a yam. No matter what you call it, know that when you eat the sweet, orange root vegetable you're doing your body a wealth of good by upping your nutritional intake.
Rich in Antioxidants
If you're trying to get more antioxidants in your diet, you can't go wrong with sweet potatoes. They're an excellent source of vitamin C, beta carotene and manganese. Antioxidants from foods like sweet potatoes serve as a defense mechanism against cell-damaging free radicals. This protection may help prevent aging and lower your risk of certain illnesses such as heart disease and Alzheimer's.
Good for Vision
One of the reasons the sweet potato makes such a healthy addition to your diet is because of its vitamin A content. One cup of a baked sweet potato with the skin meets almost 800 percent of the daily value for vitamin A. Also known as retinol, vitamin A helps you see better because it produces the pigments in your retina, which is especially helpful for seeing at night. In addition to helping your vision, vitamin A also helps maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.
If you're having a tough time meeting your daily fiber needs, sweet potatoes can help. A 1-cup serving has nearly 7 grams of fiber, meeting more than 20 percent of the daily value. Getting more fiber in your diet is a good way to help keep your bowels regular and prevent constipation. It also fills you up, which means it makes a good option for those trying to limit their calorie intake to lose weight.
Even Good for the Bones
Sweet potatoes are also rich in a number of nutrients that you need for healthy and strong bones. In addition to the vitamin A, sweet potatoes are a source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. One cup of a cooked sweet potato meets 8 percent of the daily value for calcium, 14 percent of the daily value for magnesium and 11 percent of the daily value for phosphorus. All three of these minerals are needed for bone structure and strength.
Loaded With B-6 and Potassium
Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin B-6 and potassium, meeting more than 25 percent of the daily value for both in a 1-cup serving. Vitamin B-6 helps you fight off disease, make hemoglobin and break down proteins. Potassium assists in the communication between your nerves and muscles and is need to get nutrients in and waste out of your cells.