Craving for a bowl of sweet potato fries? There is no doubt that sweet potatoes are good for your health since they are loaded with vitamins, fiber, potassium and other nutrients that help your body do its intended functions.
However, as far as your weight loss goals are concerned, how you prepare and eat sweet potatoes can either boost or negate their benefits. Compared to other vegetables such as leafy greens, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes, sweet potatoes (and potatoes in general) are significantly high in carbohydrates, according to registered dietitian Elizabeth Huggins.
If you are concerned about preparation and consumption of sweet potatoes for guaranteed weight loss, Huggins and registered dietitian Alana Kessler shared the best ways to prepare and eat them:
How To Prepare
Both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes contain resistant starch, but Huggins said that the latter has more antioxidants and fiber than the former and have a slightly lower calorie amount. However, this depends on how you prepare them. Huggins added that “how they are prepared can make or break the nutritional profile of either potato.”
Kessler said that sweet potatoes either in fry form or with added high-calorie toppings such as bacon have little positive effect in your weight loss goals. Instead, she recommended steaming or roasting your sweet potatoes with a bit of cinnamon.
“Cinnamon is a spice used to help keep blood sugar levels balanced and help manage cravings,” Kessler said. “The combination of these two together with healthy portion control and regular exercise offer a delicious option that is satisfying without compromising weight loss goals.”
Huggins advised that you should explore using a variety of other warm spices, such as sweet paprika or nutmeg, on your baked, roasted or steamed sweet potatoes for an extra dash of flavor.
How To Eat
Since sweet potatoes are higher in carbs than other veggies, it is good to see them as grains when planning your meals. Though they are good sources of healthy carbs, it is best to moderate your servings if you are watching your carb intake.
Huggins said that sweet potatoes come in various shapes and sizes, and that the size will determine the carb and calorie quantity you’re getting for the day. “An eight-ounce sweet potato is often referred to as medium, while a 12-ounce potato is large – about the size of two tennis balls sitting next to each other,” she explained, adding that once cooked, a plain large sweet potato packs nearly 250 calories and 60 grams of carbs.
Though your servings might depend on your health goals, Kessler said that a proper serving may be comparable to a clenched fist worth of sweet potatoes, or about 3 to 4 ounces. If you are on a keto diet, Huggins advised skipping sweet potatoes completely since “there is not much room for the carbs from potatoes” on that diet.
Should you practice other types of low-carb diets, Huggins added that there may be room for sweet potatoes on your plate when mixed with other veggies but it depends how low-carb you want to go. “You may be able to include a small amount of them as an accent in a meal,” she said. “For example, you might mix 1/4 cup of sweet potatoes in with a more generous serving of roasted broccoli.”