Known locally as “Satsumaimo,” the Japanese sweet potato is a nutrient-dense tuber that has a great deal of culinary potential. Similar to the traditional sweet potato, this variety has a vibrant orange flesh and a slightly sweeter taste, which makes it a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
Not only is the Japanese sweet potato delicious, it also packs a powerful nutritional punch. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it offers numerous potential health benefits.
Whether roasted, mashed, or turned into fries, this tuber is certainly a worthy addition to your diet. In this article, we will explore the nutrition and health benefits of this vegetable, and share some delicious recipes to inspire you.
What Is The Nutritional Value of a Japanese Sweet Potato?
A typical medium-sized (approximately 114 grams) Japanese sweet potato contains the following nutrition (3):
- Calories: Japanese sweet potatoes are relatively low in calories, with approximately 100 calories per serving. The USDA recommends a daily caloric intake of 2,000 to 2,500 calories for most adults, depending on age, sex, and physical activity level.
- Carbohydrates: These tubers are high in carbohydrates, containing approximately 24 grams per serving. The USDA suggests a daily carbohydrate intake of 130 grams for adults.
- Protein: A serving of Japanese sweet potato contains approximately 2 grams of protein. The USDA recommends a daily protein intake of 46 to 56 grams for adults.
- Fiber: Japanese sweet potatoes provide 3.8 grams of dietary fiber per serving. This plays an essential role in digestive health (6). The USDA recommends a daily fiber intake of 25 to 38 grams for adults.
- Vitamin E: One of the standout nutrients in Japanese sweet potatoes is vitamin E, with a serving providing approximately 12% of the daily recommended value. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant (15) and the USDA recommends a daily intake of 15 milligrams of vitamin E for adults.
- Vitamin C: These tubers provide approximately 37% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C per serving, which supports skin health and immune function (14) (17). The USDA recommends a daily intake of 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C for adults.
- Potassium: A serving of Japanese sweet potato offers approximately 12% of the daily recommended value of potassium, a mineral that helps with the regulation of blood pressure (10). The USDA suggests a daily intake of 4,700 milligrams of potassium for adults.
In addition, Japanese sweet potatoes contain other vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.
If you’ve mustered up the courage to crush your weight loss goal, let Betterme take the sting out of this demanding process. Our app will help you restructure your habits, remold your life and crank up your fitness results!
Is a Japanese Sweet Potato Healthy?
Yes; Japanese sweet potato health benefits range from improved digestion to better eyesight. Here are some of the key health benefits of eating Japanese sweet potatoes:
Japanese sweet potatoes are loaded with immune-boosting vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin C. When it comes to keeping our bodies’ defense mechanisms in top form, these vitamins play a crucial role.
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects the body against free radicals, which are created through normal metabolism or environmental exposure. It is also involved in immune function (11).
Vitamin C is another potent antioxidant that is known for its immune-supporting properties. It helps protect the body from harmful free radicals and stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are crucial fighters against infections (17).
By incorporating Japanese sweet potatoes into your diet, you will be arming your body with the nutrients it needs to fend off common illnesses.
Enhances Digestive Health
High in dietary fiber, Japanese sweet potatoes can help improve your digestive health. Fiber adds bulk to your stool, which helps it move through your digestive system more efficiently, preventing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements (6).
In addition, fiber plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiota is vital for overall health, affecting everything from digestion to mental health (5). With Japanese sweet potatoes providing approximately 3.8 grams of fiber per serving, they’re a great addition to your diet for optimal digestive health.
Promotes Healthy Skin
The vitamin C that is found in Japanese sweet potatoes isn’t just great for supporting immunity—it’s also a key player in maintaining skin health. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin and other connective tissues (14).
Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties also help protect the skin from environmental stressors such as pollution and UV damage (14). So next time you’re planning a skincare-focused diet, don’t forget to add Japanese sweet potatoes to the menu!
Regulates Blood Pressure
Packed with a great dose of potassium, Japanese sweet potatoes can help regulate blood pressure levels. Potassium is a crucial mineral that helps balance the effects of sodium and maintain fluid balance—two factors that are essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure (10).
Furthermore, potassium helps with the relaxation and constriction of blood vessels. When the blood vessels are relaxed, blood can move through them more easily, which reduces the overall pressure. Therefore, consuming Japanese sweet potatoes can contribute to cardiovascular health.
Helps with Weight Management
In the realm of healthy weight management, Japanese sweet potatoes can be a game-changer. They are high in dietary fiber and keep you feeling full for longer, which can help control overeating and unnecessary snacking (4).
In addition, due to their low-calorie profile and high nutrient density, they are a great addition to a balanced diet and can contribute to a healthier weight and overall lifestyle.
Great for Bone Health
While not as well-known for their bone-health benefits, Japanese sweet potatoes provide minerals that are important for maintaining strong and healthy bones. They contain small to moderate amounts of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which all play roles in bone formation and strength (8).
Enhances Brain Function
Finally, Japanese sweet potatoes are an excellent source of B vitamins, which play a crucial role in brain function. Some of these vitamins help in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers in the brain (2).
In addition, the antioxidants in Japanese sweet potatoes may help protect the brain from oxidative stress, which has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (9). The Japanese sweet potato can therefore contribute to maintaining a healthy brain and good cognitive function.
Read more: 4 Healthy Apple Desserts for Every Occasion.
What Is the Difference Between Sweet Potato and Japanese Sweet Potato?
The difference between regular sweet potatoes and Japanese sweet potatoes mostly lies in the taste and texture. Regular sweet potatoes are generally starchy and have a more “traditional” sweet potato flavor, while Japanese sweet potatoes are firmer with a sweeter flavor.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences:
- Color and Texture: Regular sweet potatoes have orange or red skin and orange flesh, while Japanese sweet potatoes have purplish or reddish-brown skin and creamy white or pale yellow flesh.
- Taste: Japanese sweet potatoes have a rich, sweet, and nutty flavor compared to the sweeter, marshmallow-like taste of regular sweet potatoes.
- Texture After Cooking: When cooked, regular sweet potatoes are moist and soft, while Japanese sweet potatoes become drier and firmer.
- Nutrient Composition: Japanese and regular sweet potato nutrition is mostly similar as both are rich in vitamins and minerals.
However, Japanese sweet potatoes are higher in vitamins C and E, while regular sweet potatoes have higher levels of vitamin A.
- Culinary Usage: Regular sweet potatoes are commonly used in a variety of dishes, including casseroles, pies, and fries, while Japanese sweet potatoes are often steamed or roasted and used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Is Japanese Sweet Potato a Superfood?
Yes, Japanese sweet potatoes are considered one of the super vegetables due to their rich nutritional profile. They are full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and several essential B vitamins.
These nutrients contribute to numerous health benefits, such as maintaining immune health, enhancing digestive health, promoting healthy skin, regulating blood pressure, helping with weight management, supporting bone health, and enhancing brain function.
The high fiber content and low caloric profile also make them a beneficial addition to a weight loss diet. Therefore, with their array of health-promoting nutrients and benefits, Japanese sweet potatoes indeed qualify as a superfood.
What Is The Healthiest Sweet Potato?
All sweet potatoes are healthy and nutrient-dense. Of the different varieties of sweet potatoes, the purple sweet potato stands out as one of the healthiest for one specific reason – its rich, vibrant color is due to a high anthocyanin content, a type of flavonoid with powerful antioxidant properties. These antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic disease(1).
That being said, all types of sweet potatoes, including Japanese Sweet Potatoes, are particularly healthy and can provide a great deal of nutritional benefits to your daily diet.
Looking for a way to break the vicious cycle of weight loss and tone up all the jiggly parts? Watch the extra pounds fly off and your muscles firm up with the BetterMe app!
Japanese Sweet Potato Recipes
Below are two of our favorite Japanese sweet potato recipes you can try:
Roasted Japanese Sweet Potato Wedges with Soy Glaze (12)
Keeping in line with the traditional Japanese flavors, this savory roasted sweet potato is sure to become a go-to favorite.
Japanese Sweet Potatoes:
- 1 ½ pounds Japanese sweet potatoes
Sesame Soy Glaze:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (black or beige)
- 2 tablespoons sliced chives or green onions
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Wash the Japanese sweet potatoes thoroughly. Slice them lengthwise into even wedges.
- Arrange the wedges on the prepared baking sheet, making sure they are evenly spaced out.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sesame soy glaze – soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup (if using), garlic powder, and red chili flakes.
- Drizzle the glaze over the sweet potato wedges and use a brush or your hands to ensure all the pieces are evenly coated.
- Roast the sweet potatoes in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. Flip them halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- Once the sweet potato wedges are cooked to your liking, remove them from the oven.
- Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and sliced chives or green onions as toppings.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 200 | Carbohydrates: 32 g | Protein: 4 g | Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 2 g |Sodium: 289 mg
Mashed Japanese Sweet Potatoes (7)
Mashing sweet potatoes is easily one of the most popular ways to enjoy them. This version, which includes soy milk and a dash of salt, is simply heavenly.
- 1 Japanese sweet potato, medium size
- 2 tablespoons soy milk, or your choice of milk
- Salt to taste
- Wash the Japanese sweet potato and cut it into chunks (or cubes).
- Add the sweet potato chunks to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
- When the sweet potatoes are cooked, strain them and then return them to the pot.
- Mash them with a fork or a potato masher until you achieve your desired consistency.
- Add the soy milk and a pinch of salt and continue mashing until everything is combined together.
- Taste and season with more salt if required. Serve warm as a side dish or as part of a main meal.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 46 kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Japanese sweet potatoes anti-inflammatory?
Yes, Japanese sweet potatoes are anti-inflammatory. They contain various antioxidants, which include vitamin E and vitamin C that have anti-inflammatory properties. These components may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Can you eat Japanese sweet potatoes every day?
Yes, you can eat Japanese sweet potatoes every day. They are a rich source of essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, which makes them one of the best vegetables to eat daily. However, as with any food, they should be consumed as part of a balanced diet to ensure nutritional diversity.
Is it okay to eat Japanese sweet potato skin?
Yes, it’s fine to eat the skin of a Japanese sweet potato. It is rich in fiber and contains additional nutrients. However, make sure you wash and clean the skin thoroughly to remove any dirt or pesticides before eating.
Why are Japanese sweet potatoes so good?
Japanese sweet potatoes are highly valued for their rich, sweet, and unique nutty flavor. They also have a firm yet creamy texture when they are cooked. In addition to their taste and texture, they are full of essential nutrients, which makes them a healthy food choice.
When should you not eat sweet potatoes?
You should avoid consuming sweet potatoes if they have started to shrivel, have a foul smell, or show any signs of decay, such as mold or black spots.
In addition, if there are sprouts growing on them, this indicates that the sweet potatoes are old. While the sprouts are not harmful, the quality of the sweet potato may have deteriorated.
The Bottom Line
The Japanese sweet potato is a nutritious food that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It has a unique flavor and texture that makes it stand out among other sweet potatoes. In addition, its various health benefits make it an ideal addition to any diet.
So if you are looking for something new to add to your meal plan, the Japanese sweet potato may be precisely what you need.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Anthocyanins: A Comprehensive Review of Their Chemical Properties and Health Effects on Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review (2016, mdpi.com)
- Japanese Sweet Potatoes (n.d., slism.com)
- Dietary Fiber and Energy Regulation (2000, sciencedirect.com)
- Dietary Fiber Intake and Gut Microbiota in Human Health (2022, mdpi.com)
- Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009, academic.oup.com)
- Mashed Japanese Sweet Potato Recipe – Chef JA Cooks (2023, chefjacooks.com)
- Minerals and vitamins in bone health: the potential value of dietary enhancement (2009, cambridge.org)
- Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants in Neurodegenerative Disorders (2023, mdpi.com)
- Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure (2006, journals.physiology.org)
- Vitamin E (2021, ods.od.nih.gov)
- Sesame Soy Glazed Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes – Sharon Palmer, The Plant Powered Dietitian (2023, sharonpalmer.com)
- The Role of Vitamin A in Retinal Diseases (2022, mdpi.com)
- The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health (2017, mdpi.com)
- Vitamin A (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Vitamin A and Vision (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Vitamin C and Immune Function (2017, mdpi.com)