Sweet Potatoes for Diabetes? Good or Not?
Sweet potatoes belong to the starchy vegetable category. And for people with diabetes, starchy vegetables are a big no. But that’s not the case with sweet potatoes. These vegetables are a perfect superfood for diabetics too.
There are various kinds of sweet potatoes. White, purple and orange sweet potatoes are the popular ones. The good news is that all varieties of sweet potatoes, excluding only the white ones, are safe for consumption in moderate quantities by people with diabetes. Also, this veggie is high in fibre and many other nutrients.
As per this study, in the case of diabetes, carbohydrates in moderation can help metabolism. So it reduces the risks of diabetes and helps manage it too. Moreover, having it can give the necessary energy to diabetics. Also, the dietary fibre present in sweet potatoes can do wonders for you.
Nutritional Values of Sweet Potatoes
Knowing the nutritional values of sweet potatoes could let you know what your body is getting from them.
The following data is as per this USDA for a 100g of raw sweet potatoes:
- Proteins: 1.57g
- Energy: 86kCal
- Carbohydrates: 20.1g
- Fibre: 3g
- Sodium: 55mg
- Iron: 0.61mg
- Folate: 11µg
- Starch: 12.6g
- Potassium: 47mg
- Beta Carotene: 8510µg
- Vitamin A: 709µg
- Vitamin K: 1.8µg
- Calcium: 30mg
Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Diabetes?
Regular potatoes are a popular favourite. From Telangana Potato Kurma to Bengal’s Potato Biryani, the vegetable has its place in all kitchens. Moreover, in the form of french fries, potatoes are more than a familiar fun food. But potatoes in large quantities are bad for diabetes.
Given this, going by the name, sweet potatoes seem to be an arch enemy of diabetes. But is there truth in this assumption? Let’s find out.
Many people mistakenly believe that potatoes and sweet potatoes are from the same family and provide similar nutrition. However, this is not true. Sweet potatoes have a medium Glycemic index value, while potatoes have a high GI value. Additionally, sweet potatoes are higher in vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, while regular potatoes contain more potassium, Vitamin B1, and folic acid.
Nutritionists recommend you eat foods low on the glycemic index and intake good carbs, abundant fibre and essential vitamins. Such a diet is ideal, especially for people with diabetes. And sweet potatoes are the perfect example of such a diet. These are low in carbs and medium GI, good with fibre and have great vitamins.
The HealthifyMe Note
Sweet potatoes come in different varieties with different nutritional values. It is a medium GI food (64 to 70). Furthermore, the cooking method for sweet potatoes can change their glycemic index. One usually goes for boiling, roasting, and baking when preparing sweet potatoes. Boiled or steamed sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, while baked or other cooked sweet potatoes have a higher GI. So, if you have diabetes or want to lessen the risk of diabetes, choose to eat boiled sweet potatoes.
Glycemic Index of Sweet Potatoes
Before understanding the GI of sweet potatoes, let us know what the glycemic index(GI) is. GI is the measure of how quickly a food’s carbs get digested and release glucose into your body. Foods high in GI are digested quickly and cause spiked blood sugar levels.
Foods that score a range of 55 or less are low on the GI index. Those above 55 and up to 69 are considered to have a medium GI. Finally, anywhere above 69 is a food high on GI. So it would help if you analysed the food’s GI levels.
Now, sweet potatoes, when boiled, have a low GI of 46. And that, too, the time of boiling affects this index. Research shows that the cooking methods can alter the structure and nature of the starches resulting in significant effects on postprandial blood glucose responses. A higher boiling period means a lower GI. Furthermore, a sweet potato that you consume roasted has a glycemic index of more than 82. When it comes to baking, the veggie’s GI goes up to 94 and more. Finally, if you eat them fried, the GI will be at 76.
To sum it all up, sweet potatoes have a low GI and are suitable for diabetes when consumed boiled. So, can people with diabetes eat sweet potatoes? Of course, yes!
Sweet Potatoes Benefits for Diabetes Patients
A few widespread benefits of sweet potatoes for diabetes are as follows:
Beta-Carotene for Vision
The reason for orange flesh in sweet potatoes is because of beta-carotene. This oxidant is a pigment that gives orangeness to any fruit or vegetable. The antioxidant, when consumed, leads to Vitamin A. However you may want to overeat the orange variety of sweet potato as they have a higher GI as compared to other ones.
A study stresses that an abundance of beta-carotene can improve eyesight. People with diabetes are prone to vision loss. So including sweet potatoes rich in beta-carotene can have good eye health.
Low GI for Regulated Blood Sugar
You might already know that foods low in GI suit people with diabetes. Also, these foods show positive effects in releasing glucose into your bloodstream. Therefore, there will be no danger when glucose gets slowly released into the bloodstream.
High Fibre for Reduced Cravings and Weight Loss
People with diabetes, especially those with type 2 diabetes, must ingest more fibre. According to this study, higher dietary fibre reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, you feel satiated for longer when there is a good fibre intake. Thus, you will eat less and be healthy. Therefore, ultimately, weight loss is a great benefit.
Loaded with Vitamin C for Fighting Inflammation
Due to insulin resistance and increased unmonitored glucose, inflammation arises. Inflammation at high levels can bring adverse effects to you. Thus, you must take measures to decrease it by taking Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a rich nutrient in sweet potatoes. Vitamin C in sweet potatoes can help you reduce inflammation. Hence, diabetes must consume sweet potatoes.
Starch in Sweet Potato for Insulin Sensitivity
Sweet potato is a starchy vegetable. Although starch is not suitable for diabetes in most cases, sweet potato starch is aceptable. This veggie’s starch helps reduce insulin resistance, as per this study. Also, it helps in the management of the produced insulin. Thus, for appropriate glucose and insulin in the body, sweet potatoes are necessary.
Diabetes is a condition that requires careful meal planning and prep. Including nutrient-dense foods like sweet potatoes is a good option to consider given it’s array of benefits along with ranking low on the GI index. Sometimes, we over-consume superfoods, thinking it is suitable for our system. However, always practise portion control. Eating small meals and following a healthy plate method that covers all food groups can help you manage your condition better. speaking to the expert help such as the nutritionists at HealthifyMe can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is sweet potato good for diabetic patients?
A: Yes, sweet potatoes are suitable for diabetic patients. This vegetable contains excellent nutritional benefits. It has beta carotene, more fibre and other nutrients valuable for a person with diabetes. Regardless, one must eat a boiled sweet potato to observe a low spike in blood sugar levels.
Q. Can diabetics eat sweet potatoes every day?
A: People with diabetes can gladly eat sweet potatoes everyday but in extra cautious way. Do not over indulge and it’ll be beneficial if you have it boiled to keep the GI value low.
Q. How much sweet potato can a diabetic eat?
A: Rather than the number of sweet potatoes, one must concentrate on counting the carbs intake. For example, one with diabetes must intake carbohydrates in a quantity of 15-20 grams per major meal. So, being high in carbs, a person with diabetes should eat only half or one small sweet potato boiled per day. Such a size of sweet potato can give 15 grams or fewer carbs, which is healthy enough for you.
Q. Can sweet potato spike blood sugar?
A: It depends on many factors. For example, orange species of sweet potatoes are high in GI. Also, any sweet potato, baked, roasted, or fried, has a higher GI as compared to boiled ones. Thus, while a boiled sweet potato is unlikely to give sudden unhealthy spike in blood sugar the other one’s do pose some risk given the overall healt status of the person consumed.
Q. Does boiled sweet potato raise blood sugar?
A: Generally, raw sweet potatoes are medium to high in GI. Research shows that when boiled, cooking can alter the structure and nature of the starches resulting in significant effects on postprandial blood glucose responses. Greater amounts of resistant starches may have been retained in the boiled foods, which help to control spike in blood sugars.
The Research Sources
1. Bonsembiante L, Targher G, Maffeis C. Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Carbohydrate Intake of Adolescents and Young Adults: What Is the Impact of Different Choices? Nutrients. 2021 Sep 24;13(10):3344. doi: 10.3390/nu13103344. PMID: 34684345; PMCID: PMC8537173.
2. Jonathan C. Allen, Alexis D. Corbitt, Katherine P. Maloney, Masood S. Butt and Van-Den Truong.
3. Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ. Nutrients for the ageing eye. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:741-8. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S45399. Epub 2013 Jun 19. PMID: 23818772; PMCID: PMC3693724.
4. McRae MP. Dietary Fiber Intake and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. J Chiropr Med. 2018 Mar;17(1):44-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2017.11.002. Epub 2018 Mar 1. PMID: 29628808; PMCID: PMC5883628.
5. Sanders LM, Dicklin MR, Palacios OM, Maki CE, Wilcox ML, Maki KC. Effects of potato resistant starch intake on insulin sensitivity, related metabolic markers and appetite ratings in men and women at risk for type 2 diabetes: a pilot cross-over randomised controlled trial. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2021 Feb;34(1):94-105. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12822. Epub 2020 Oct 29. PMID: 33119948; PMCID: PMC7894332.
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