Are Sweet Potatoes Paleo?


Sweet potatoes are very starchy, but they’re also high in fiber and various micronutrients. The fiber helps slow the digestion of the carbohydrates, preventing a spike in blood sugar. Most of us living a Paleo lifestyle prefer to avoid a spike in blood sugar because a spike leads to a crash, leaving us feeling tired, cranky, and craving more carbs. Chronically high blood sugar levels also lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

The Micronutrients in Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are very nutritious, containing tons of vitamin A and various B vitamins. They’re also fairly rich in trace metals like manganese, phosphorous, and potassium. When baked, sweet potatoes get an increase in their vitamin C and polyphenol content, both of which are vital for maintaining a strong immune system.

Carbohydrates and Fiber

Because sweet potatoes are so high in carbohydrates, but also high in fiber, they can serve as an excellent, Paleo-friendly way to replenish those glycogen stores after a hard workout. While a lot of people living a Paleo lifestyle like to come down hard on carbs, different levels work for different people and different situations. If you like your heavy workouts, you’ll probably need some extra carbs on those workout days. If you’re less active, you might want to lay off on the carbs. It’s all N=1 so don’t let anyone tell you what’s best for your body.

Sweet Potato Varieties

Sweet potatoes come in a number of different varieties. Some of the sweet potatoes you might find at your local grocery store or farmer’s market include:

  • Speckled Purple: Just like the name implies, the flesh of these sweet potatoes tends to be a flecked magenta color. Their flavor is a little nutty.
  • Envy: An heirloom sweet potato with a pale orange color. This is a sweet variety that’s great for baking.
  • Hannah: A pale-colored sweet potato that’s perfect for mashing.
  • Jewel: This sweet potato has copper-colored skin and orange flesh. It’s the go-to sweet potato for baking.
  • Garnets: The red-purple skin of this sweet potato is what gives it its name. Garnets are great for making sweet potato pie.
  • Korean Purple: This is an heirloom sweet potato from Asia that gets its name from its purple skin. It has white flesh and is best when baked or boiled.
  • Beauregard: This is probably what most people think of when they think of a sweet potato. It’s the most widely-grown commercial cultivar of sweet potato and it’s a versatile tuber that can be used for baking, boiling, mashing, or frying.
  • Creamsicle: This sweet potato gets it’s name from its cream-colored skin and sweet taste.
  • O’henry: This sweet potato was developed from a mutation of the Beauregard. It’s flesh is cream-colored and it’s lightly sweet flavor makes it great for baking.
  • Willowleaf: An heirloom variety with an orange color, this sweet potato has a nutty flavor that is best brought out when baked.
  • Okinawa: This is an extra-sweet sweet potato with a flavor that makes it great for anything. Boil it. Bake it. Or roast it. You can’t go wrong.
  • Covington: This sweet potato has pink skin, orange flesh, and a sweet taste that makes it perfect for including in desserts.
  • Nugget: An excellent sweet potato for roasting, Nuggets tend to have pink skin and orange flesh.
  • Amish Bush Porto Rico: These sweet potatoes get their name from the fact that they tend to grow in bushy clusters. They have pink skin, orange flesh, and are great for baking.
  • Purple Sweet Potatoes: These sweet potatoes get their name from their purple-colored skin. Their flavor is light and sweet, but also just a little bit tart, which makes them perfect for savory dishes.
  • Stokes Purple: As the name suggests, these sweet potatoes have purple skin and flesh. This is another sweet potato that’s best used in savory dishes because of it’s earthy flavor.

For more information on the nutritional content of sweet potatoes and their different varieties, check out this post.