This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.
Are Sweet Potatoes Paleo? Here’s The Answer From Experts [UK] 2023
While some argue that paleo enthusiasts should avoid consuming potatoes altogether, the status of sweet potatoes within the paleo community is debatable. Thus, we’ll highlight sweet potatoes’ nutritional profile, glycemic index, and potential health benefits. Additionally, we’ll shed light on how these versatile root vegetables work in a paleo-friendly meal plan.
So, before you take one bite, let’s answer the question: are sweet potatoes paleo?
Can You Eat Potatoes On The Paleo?
Yes and no, for sweet potatoes and white potatoes, respectively. White potatoes are a topic of contention among paleo dieters. Some argue they are not paleo due to their high carbohydrate content and potential blood sugar impact others consider them acceptable in moderation. Sweet potatoes are more nutrient-dense and are generally considered paleo-friendly.
They have vitamin C and beta carotene and a lower glycemic index than white potatoes. Additionally, sweet potatoes boast health benefits like supporting immune system function and promoting a healthy gut. Ultimately, adding potatoes to your paleo food choices depends on your goals.
What Are Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes, scientifically known as Ipomoea batatas, are nutritious root vegetables that belong to the Convolvulaceae family. People widely consume and cherish these potatoes for their vibrant color, sweet taste, and impressive health benefits.
Sweet potato tubers are an excellent dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals source. Sweet potatoes are known for their beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, essential for eye health. They also provide vitamin C, an antioxidant that aids collagen production, hastens bone healing, and eradicates free radicals.
Orange sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene. Purple sweet potatoes have a unique flavor and anthocyanin content. Anthocyanin is a purple flavonoid found in different foods. Japanese sweet potatoes have a reddish-brown skin and nutty flavor. White-fleshed sweet potatoes have a milder taste.
These sweet potato nutrition varieties offer diverse options for incorporating sweet potatoes into various culinary preparations.
Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index when boiled. This low GI makes them a favorable choice for managing blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. The glycemic index is a numerical scale measuring how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels after consumption.
Versatile Culinary Uses
You can bake sweet potatoes, mash them, make sweet potato toast, sweet potato casserole, or boil it. You can use it in soups, stews, salads, and side dishes.
Why Are Sweet Potatoes Paleo?
Are potatoes paleo?
Potatoes are not considered paleo due to their high carbohydrate content and potential impact on blood sugar levels. However, sweet potatoes are generally paleo-friendly.
Here are the reasons:
Nutritious Whole Foods
First, they fit a hunter-gatherer diet. A paleo diet typically consists of whole, healthy foods available to our ancestors. These are lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It excludes processed foods, grains, legumes, and dairy.
Sweet potatoes are rich in essential nutrients. Their vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber provide wholesome nutrition.
Lower Glycemic Index
Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. Boiling them makes a milder impact on blood sugar levels in a paleo diet.
Natural And Unprocessed
Sweet potatoes are a natural, gluten-free, unprocessed food, so they fit paleo criteria.
Paleo-Friendly Carbohydrate Source
While paleo restricts most carb sources, sweet potatoes offer their nutrient content and moderate carbohydrate profile. They still provide energy for an active lifestyle.
Sweet potatoes can provide a balanced meal plan, energy, and other nutrients for paleo dieters. They can be used with paleo supplements.
Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes’ highly nutritional profile offers the following benefits:
- Antioxidant properties: Sweet potatoes contain antioxidants, such as beta carotene and anthocyanins, offering protection against cellular damage by free radicals.
- Supports eye health: The beta carotene in sweet potatoes promotes good vision and eye health and reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
- Boosts immune system: The vitamin A and vitamin C in sweet potatoes support a healthy immune system to fight infections and diseases.
- Gut health: Sweet potatoes are a good fiber source, promoting digestive health, preventing constipation, and supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Eating sweet potatoes combats inflammation via their anthocyanins and other phytochemicals. These have anti-inflammatory properties, which help fight inflammation.
- Blood sugar regulation: Sweet potatoes’ fiber content and lower glycemic index contribute to better blood sugar control. Boiling them makes them suitable if you have diabetes.
- Heart health: Sweet potatoes are low in fat and sodium while rich in potassium, which regulates blood pressure and promotes cardiovascular health.
- Weight loss: Sweet potatoes’ fiber and nutrient density can contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety, aiding in weight management. It also supports healthy eating habits, which help you lose weight.
Paleo Sweet Potato Recipes
Here are some delicious paleo sweet potato recipes:
Roasted Sweet Potato Fries
Enjoy a crispy and flavorful snack by slicing sweet potatoes into fries. Toss them in olive oil and bake them until golden brown. These are perfect for paleo enthusiasts looking for a healthier alternative to traditional potato chips.
Sweet Potato Hash
Start your day with a hearty and satisfying breakfast by combining diced sweet potatoes with sautéed vegetables and your choice of protein. You may use ground beef, shredded chicken, or ground turkey. This nutrient-packed dish will keep you energizing your entire morning.
Sweet Potato And Kale Salad
Create a vibrant and nutrient-dense salad combining roasted sweet potatoes with fresh kale, cherry tomatoes, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. Top it off with some toasted nuts or seeds for added crunch and flavor.
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Replace traditional mashed potatoes with a paleo twist by using mashed sweet potatoes as a topping for a flavorful shepherd’s pie. Layer it with grass-fed ground beef, mixed vegetables, and savory herbs for a comforting and satisfying meal.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole
Prepare a delicious and protein-packed breakfast casserole by layering shredded sweet potatoes, eggs, vegetables, and lean protein. Bake until golden for a hearty and nutritious start to your day.
Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 220 Celcius. Cut sweet potatoes into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, and your choice of herbs, such as rosemary or thyme. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until tender and golden brown.
These paleo sweet potato recipes showcase their versatility. Incorporate them for a satisfying and flavorful dining experience while staying true to your paleo lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
So, can you eat potatoes in paleo?
The answer is yes and no, depending on the type of potato you are referring to. In the case of sweet potatoes, then yes, you can add them to your paleo diet. And you can have the white, red, orange, or purple kinds in different culinary styles.
Eating sweet potatoes delivers taste, whether craving a savory side dish, a hearty breakfast, or a satisfying snack. The beauty of sweet potatoes is that it doesn’t have to involve much cooking. With a quick fix, you can have your boiled, fried, or baked sweet potatoes with a glass of oat milk.
Their rich nutrient profile, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, supports a well-rounded, wholesome plan. So, add sweet potatoes to your diet and explore the delicious possibilities.
Embrace the paleo lifestyle while enjoying the benefits of purple flesh, Japanese, white, and sweet potatoes for your well-being. Get creative in the kitchen and savor the natural goodness of this paleo-friendly ingredient.
+ 19 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- Bożena Frączek, Pięta, A., Burda, A., Mazur-Kurach, P. and Florentyna Tyrała (2021). Paleolithic Diet—Effect on the Health Status and Performance of Athletes? [online] 13(3), pp.1019–1019. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13031019.
- Escobar-Puentes, A.A., Palomo, I., Lyanne Rodríguez, Fuentes, E., Villegas-Ochoa, M.A., González-Aguilar, G.A., Olivas-Aguirre, F.J. and Wall-Medrano, A. (2022). Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) Phenotypes: From Agroindustry to Health Effects. [online] 11(7), pp.1058–1058. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11071058.
- Cao, Y., Tian, B., Zhang, Z., Yang, K., Cai, M., Hu, W., Guo, Y., Xia, Q. and Wu, W. (2022). Positive effects of dietary fiber from sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] peels by different extraction methods on human fecal microbiota in vitro fermentation. [online] 9. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.986667.
- Fatima Tuz Johra, Asim Kumar Bepari, Bristy, A. and Hasan Mahmud Reza (2020). A Mechanistic Review of β-Carotene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin in Eye Health and Disease. [online] 9(11), pp.1046–1046. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9111046.
- Andrijana Meščić Macan, Tatjana Gazivoda Kraljević and Cetina, M. (2019). Therapeutic Perspective of Vitamin C and Its Derivatives. [online] 8(8), pp.247–247. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8080247.
- DePhillipo, N.N., Aman, Z.M., Kennedy, M.I., Begley, J.P., Moatshe, G. and LaPrade, R.F. (2018). Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. [online] 6(10), p.232596711880454-232596711880454. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/2325967118804544.
- Neela Satheesh and Solomon Workneh Fanta (2019). Review on nutritional composition of orange‐fleshed sweet potato and its role in management of vitamin A deficiency. [online] 7(6), pp.1920–1945. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.1063.
- Li, A., Xiao, R., He, S., An, X., He, Y., Wang, C., Yin, S., Wang, B., Shi, X. and He, J. (2019). Research Advances of Purple Sweet Potato Anthocyanins: Extraction, Identification, Stability, Bioactivity, Application, and Biotransformation. [online] 24(21), pp.3816–3816. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24213816.
- Sunantha Ketnawa, Kaur, L., Ogawa, Y. and Singh, J. (2019). Sweet potato microstructure, starch digestion, and glycemic index. [online] pp.243–272. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-813637-9.00009-0.
- Dutta, S. (2015). Review Article SWEET POTATOES FOR DIABETES MELLITUS: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. An International Research Journal, [online] 6(1). Available at: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=349dc895e53f5d77d7351780128d2e63301b071f.
- Amagloh, F.C., Yada, B., Tumuhimbise, G.A., Francis Kweku Amagloh and Kaaya, A.N. (2021). The Potential of Sweetpotato as a Functional Food in Sub-Saharan Africa and Its Implications for Health: A Review. [online] 26(10), pp.2971–2971. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26102971.
- Hock Eng Khoo, Hui Khoon Ng, Wai Sum Yap, Hui Hwang Goh and Hip Seng Yim (2019). Nutrients for Prevention of Macular Degeneration and Eye-Related Diseases. [online] 8(4), pp.85–85. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8040085.
- Huang, Z., Liu, Y., Qi, G., Brand, D.D. and Song Guo Zheng (2018). Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. [online] 7(9), pp.258–258. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm7090258.
- Carr, A.C. and Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. [online] 9(11), pp.1211–1211. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211.
- Qin, Y., Naumovski, N., Chaminda Senaka Ranadheera and D’Cunha, N.M. (2022). Nutrition-related health outcomes of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) consumption: A systematic review. [online] 50, pp.102208–102208. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbio.2022.102208.
- Aldrine Kilua, Riri Nomata, Nagata, R., Naoki Fukuma, Shimada, K., Han, K.-H. and Fukushima, M. (2019). Purple Sweet Potato Polyphenols Differentially Influence the Microbial Composition Depending on the Fermentability of Dietary Fiber in a Mixed Culture of Swine Fecal Bacteria. [online] 11(7), pp.1495–1495. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11071495.
- Marcelia Sugata, Lin, C.-Y. and Shih, Y.-C. (2015). Anti-Inflammatory and Anticancer Activities of Taiwanese Purple-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea batatasL. Lam) Extracts. [online] 2015, pp.1–10. doi:https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/768093.
- Oki, T., Kano, M., Watanabe, O., Goto, K., Boelsma, E., Ishikawa, F. and Suda, I. (2016). Effect of consuming a purple-fleshed sweet potato beverage on health-related biomarkers and safety parameters in Caucasian subjects with elevated levels of blood pressure and liver function biomarkers: a 4-week, open-label, non-comparative trial. [online] 35(3), pp.129–136. doi:https://doi.org/10.12938/bmfh.2015-026.
- Chun Che Shih, Chen, C.-M., Hsiao, T.-J., Liu, C.-W. and Sing Chung Li (2019). White Sweet Potato as Meal Replacement for Overweight White-Collar Workers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [online] 11(1), pp.165–165. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010165.