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Does Sweet Potato Have Any Side Effects?

Sweet potatoes are high in oxalates that can cause calcium-oxalate kidney stones. They contain mannitol, a type of sugar that can cause stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea in sensitive people. They are a preferred food for diabetics due to their low glycemic index but baking and other preparations can spike this index to damaging levels. Boiled potatoes are an healthier option.

Sweet potato, also called camote or kumara, is an edible tuber, belonging to the Convolvulaceae or morning glory plant family. There are about 400 varieties of sweet potato, differentiated by their skin and flesh color, ranging from cream, yellow, and orange to pink or purple.

Sweet Potatoes vs. Regular Potatoes: Battle Of The Spuds

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are part of the Solanaceae family and related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant along with the deadly nightshade. The leaves of potatoes are poisonous and cannot be eaten. Unlike potatoes, the leaves of sweet potatoes are edible and very nutritious.

  • Sweet potatoes are roots whereas regular potatoes are tubers (underground stems). The calorie content of the white potato and the sweet potato is similar. A 100 g serving of a baked white potato with the skin contains 93 calories. The same size serving of a baked sweet potato with the skin contains 90 calories.
  • Both species (when boiled, without skin) contain similar amounts of water, fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
  •  Sweet potatoes contain higher amounts of fiber and sugars, and sometimes have a lower glycemic index.
  •  Both are good sources of potassium and vitamin C, but sweet potatoes are excellent sources of vitamin A.

Thus, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, are a better source of fiber, and provide similar or slightly higher levels of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin A) than regular potatoes.1

Side Effects Of Sweet Potatoes

Gallstones And Kidney Stones

Sweet potatoes are among the select vegetables with high amounts of oxalates (greater than 10 mg per serving). Oxalates tend to crystallize when they exist in excessive levels in the body. They play a part in the formation of calcium-oxalate kidney stones, which is the most common form of kidney stone. Individuals with impaired kidney and gallbladder functions who have trouble processing and excreting oxalates from the body need to consult their doctor before including sweet potatoes in their diet.

Stomach Pain

Sweet potatoes contain a type of sugar called mannitol that can cause stomach pain if you have a sensitive stomach. A frequent stomach pain every time you eat sweet potatoes might suggest that you are intolerant to foods containing mannitol. Mannitol can also trigger bloating and diarrhea in some cases.

Blood Glucose Level Spikes

Sweet potato ranks low on the glycemic index scale, but the way a food is prepared also affects its glycemic index. A boiled sweet potato has a low GI of 44. But if baked for 45 minutes, the same sweet potato has an extremely high glycemic index level of 94. Individuals watching their diet and blood sugar levels for disease management or overall wellness must make sure they prepare sweet potatoes correctly.2

Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes

  • The purple anthocyanins in sweet potatoes protect the body from the ill-effects of free radicals and heavy metals.3 They bring relief in conditions like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. These purple pigments also minimize oxidative liver damage4 caused by a high-cholesterol diet and can suppress colon, stomach, lung, and breast cancer cell proliferation.
  • Sweet potatoes are power-packed with vitamins. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes especially are rich sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A and have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.5
  • The potassium content sweet potatoes contain can help lower your blood pressure while the phosphorus content can help your body store energy and repair damaged tissues.6
  • Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index and can help regulate blood sugar, even in type 2 diabetes patients.7


If eaten in moderation and prepared in a healthy way, sweet potatoes are a healthy, nutritious, and tasty food that should pose no significant health risks.

References   [ + ]

1. White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which Are Healthier? Cleveland Clinic.
2. Allen, Jonathan C., Alexis D. Corbitt, Katherine P. Maloney, Masood S. Butt, and Van-Den Truong. “Glycemic index of sweet potato as affected by cooking methods.” Open Nutrition Journal 6 (2012): 1-11.
3. Suda, Ikuo, Tomoyuki Oki, Mami Masuda, Mio Kobayashi, Yoichi Nishiba, and Shu Furuta. “Physiological functionality of purple-fleshed sweet potatoes containing anthocyanins and their utilization in foods.” Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly: JARQ 37, no. 3 (2003): 167-173.
4. Choi, Jae Ho, Chul Yung Choi, Kyung Jin Lee, Yong Pil Hwang, Young Chul Chung, and Hye Gwang Jeong. “Hepatoprotective effects of an anthocyanin fraction from purple-fleshed sweet potato against acetaminophen-induced liver damage in mice.” Journal of medicinal food 12, no. 2 (2009): 320-326.
5. Teow, Choong C., Van-Den Truong, Roger F. McFeeters, Roger L. Thompson, Kenneth V. Pecota, and G. Craig Yencho. “Antioxidant activities, phenolic and β-carotene contents of sweet potato genotypes with varying flesh colours.” Food Chemistry 103, no. 3 (2007): 829-838.
6. Slavin, Joanne L., and Beate Lloyd. “Health benefits of fruits and vegetables.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 3, no. 4 (2012): 506-516.
7. Ludvik, Bernhard H., Katja Mahdjoobian, Werner Waldhaeusl, Astrid Hofer, Rudolf Prager, Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, and Giovanni Pacini. “The Effect of Ipomoea batatas (Caiapo) on Glucose Metabolism and Serum Cholesterol in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes A randomized study.” Diabetes Care 25, no. 1 (2002): 239-240.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.