White sweet potatoes are an uncommon and delicious variety of sweet potatoes. This variety is less sweet than the traditional orange-fleshed sweet potato and is especially beneficial to people with diabetes and heart disease. Read more to learn about the health benefits of white sweet potatoes, and for some delicious recipes!
What Are White Sweet Potatoes?
White sweet potatoes are a white-fleshed variety of Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato). Like all sweet potatoes (such as purple and Japanese sweet potatoes), they are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Additionally, they provide dietary fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, and iron and are low in fat and cholesterol [R].
Extracts from white-fleshed sweet potatoes have a number of beneficial health effects, such as reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels. This is particularly beneficial to patients with heart disease or diabetes [R].
White Sweet Potato Nutrition
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids, which also give the different varieties their distinctive colors. The table below summarizes the amounts of these compounds in white sweet potato in comparison to the common orange-fleshed variety [R]:
Health Benefits of White Sweet Potatoes
1) White Sweet Potatoes May Help with Diabetes
The starch in sweet potatoes is a complex carbohydrate. It has a high ratio of amylose to amylopectin, and amylose raises blood sugar more slowly. This is why it has a moderate glycemic index (ranking of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels) and is considered safe for diabetics [R].
In another study of 18 male type 2 diabetics (RCT), those given a high dose of white-skinned sweet potato extract (4 g/day) had increased insulin sensitivity compared to those who received a lower dose (2 g/day), or a placebo. Those taking a lower dose saw a slight improvement [R].
When insulin-resistant rats were fed white-skinned sweet potatoes, blood sugar decreased [R].
Flavonoids extracted from sweet potato leaves also decreased blood sugar in diabetic mice in doses of 100 mg/kg of body weight [R].
Mechanism of Action
2) White Sweet Potato May Prevent Heart Disease
In a study (RCT) of 61 patients with type 2 diabetes, an extract of white sweet potato skin (4 g of Caiapo) decreased cholesterol levels compared to those taking a placebo. The extract had no effect on triglycerides, however. Similarly, 4 g of Caiapo reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels (RCT with 18 male type 2 diabetics) [R, R].
When insulin-resistant rats were fed white-skinned sweet potatoes, triglyceride levels decreased [R].
3) White Sweet Potato May Improve Wound Recovery
Researchers treated rat wounds with a cream that contained white sweet potato. The rat wounds healed faster when treated with white sweet potato [R].
4) White Sweet Potato May Prevent Stomach Ulcers
White sweet potato prevented stomach ulcers in rats after acid levels were purposely increased [R].
White Sweet Potato as Part of the Lectin Avoidance Diet
White sweet potatoes, like all sweet potatoes, are low in harmful lectins (to see a list of other foods low in lectins, click here).
Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates. Although not all lectins are bad, some lectins and other substances found in plants can trigger immune reactions and damage the gut in certain people. These substances can be found in seemingly healthy foods like whole grains, beans, tomatoes, or fruit. Gluten (or gliadin), a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, is a particularly dangerous type of lectin that can cause a lot of damage in the body [R, R, R, R].
Food sensitivity is a set of inflammatory or adverse reactions to food that isn’t an allergic reaction. While food allergies cause an immediate reaction (such as rashes, hives, pain, swelling, and in extreme cases, asthma/airway closure or anaphylactic shock), food sensitivities are usually not immediate and the inflammatory symptoms can last for a few days. Usually, a food sensitivity will cause symptoms that are obscure and don’t fit neatly into any diagnosis such as brain fog, pain, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia [R].
Although there are food sensitivity tests available, several studies have shown they are not accurate or effective. The gold standard to identify non-allergic food sensitivities is to eliminate the food and bring it back. People with inflammation issues, autoimmune disease (Th1, Th2, Th17 dominance or leaky gut), histamine intolerance, or unexplainable health issues should experiment with an elimination diet, such as the Lectin Avoidance Diet, to see if their symptoms improve.
This cookbook is a guide to doing an elimination diet, starting with a list of foods that should be low in inflammation (usually doesn’t cause a reaction). After your symptoms subside, you can bring back eliminated food, one at a time, to see their effects. This cookbook allows you to figure out what works to reduce your symptoms, in a sustainable and delicious way.
The Dosage of White Sweet Potato Extract
Limitations and Caveats
Studies evaluating the specific health benefits of white sweet potatoes are lacking; most data are of the benefits that are common to all sweet potatoes. While there is some evidence they are beneficial for people with diabetes and heart disease, studies of the other health benefits have only been conducted in animals or on cells.
Sources of White Sweet Potato
Although white-skinned sweet potatoes are available in supermarkets, this variety is much less common than the orange varietal. White sweet potato extract (Caiapo) is readily available online and in supermarkets [R, R].
White Sweet Potato Recipes
If you are interested in trying (or already love) white sweet potatoes, try these delicious recipes! Sweet potatoes are flavorful, do not have any lectins, and are rated less inflammatory, which is great for those who have a lectin sensitivity. For a list of other foods low in lectins, click here.
Mashed White Sweet Potatoes
This delicious dish is flexible and serves 4.
- Peel and cut 2 lbs sweet potatoes into large pieces, and place into salted water.
- Continue boiling until soft (easily pierced by a fork), and then drain.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons ghee, and 1/4 cup whole milk to drained sweet potatoes and mash until smooth.
- Season with desired herbs or toppings.
- Serve and enjoy!
Roasted White Sweet Potatoes With Mirin and Honey
This dish has an amazing aroma and serves 4.
- Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C) and place a well-seasoned 8″-10″ cast-iron skillet in the oven.
- Poke approximately 2 lbs sweet potatoes with a fork in multiple spots and microwave on high for 5 minutes. (Or, wrap in foil and bake at 450°F (232°C) until edges are tender but the center is still hard about 30-35 minutes).
- Transfer sweet potatoes to a bowl, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Combine 1/2 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine), 2 tablespoons raw honey, 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Peel and cut sweet potatoes into rounds, 1-1.5” thick and toss rounds in the mirin mixture.
- Using oven mitts, carefully remove hot skillet from oven. Add 2 teaspoons of a neutral flavored oil and swirl pan to coat.
- Roast sweet potatoes cut side down, in the hot skillet, at 450°F (232°C) for 15-20 minutes or until caramelized on one side.
- Flip sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes longer.
- Transfer sweet potatoes to serving vessel.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and scrape up browned bits. Add 2 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter) and swirl pan until melted.
- Pour sauce over sweet potatoes, season with salt, and enjoy!
For more delicious recipes like these (such as Kale and Sweet Potato Salad, Egg-Free Herbed Flatbread, Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice and many more), please check out our cookbook for a guide to doing an elimination diet and lectin sensitivity!