The Sweet Way To 5-A-Day

Along with exercise, eating a balanced and nutritious diet is one of the best things we can do to stay healthy. And one of the building blocks of a healthy diet is to eat more fruit and veg. Health experts recommend we have at least five portions each day, yet many of us still struggle to reach this. The good news is it's easier than you think. Trying fruit and veg you wouldn't normally pick, adds variety and colour to your diet - and boosts intakes of different nutrients.

Enter the sweet potato! Research shows only 44% of us buy sweet potatoes, and many of us aren't aware of their nutritional value or are unsure how to cook them. So check out these reasons for adding them to your diet…

Sweet potatoes help you on your way to 5-a-day
Just 80g counts as one of your 5-a-day, whether you choose to have it mashed, steamed, roasted or added to dishes like soups, stews, salads or curries.

Sweet potatoes are naturally low in fat
An 80g serving of boiled sweet potato contains 0.2g fat - that's just 3% of the maximum daily amount recommended by health experts. They're also free from saturated fat.

Sweet potatoes are high in fibre
Health experts recommend we eat 18g fibre a day for good health, yet research shows that on average, adults in the UK tend to have less than 14g a day.1 An 80g serving of boiled sweet potato provides around 10% of the fibre adults need each day.

They're low in salt
Providing you don't add salt to sweet potatoes when you cook or serve them, sweet potatoes are naturally low in salt. Great news, as too much salt is linked to high blood pressure, a condition that affects around one in three men and women in the UK.2

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. This vitamin has many vital roles in the body, including helping to keep our immune system functioning normally. It's also an essential vitamin for maintaining normal vision and is important for skin. Unfortunately, many of us fail to get enough vitamin A in our diets, especially children and teenagers. Research reveals that 12% of boys and 13% of girls aged 11-18 years have seriously low intakes of vitamin A.1 Sweet potatoes can really help to boost intakes. An 80g serving of boiled sweet potato, provides a massive 66% of our daily needs.

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C
An 80g serving of boiled sweet potatoes provides 17% of our daily needs for vitamin C. That's great news as this vitamin has many important parts to play in keeping us healthy. It's needed for the normal functioning of the nervous system and immune system. Having enough can also help us feel less tired and fatigued. It's needed to make collagen, a component of bones, skin and cartilage. It helps our bodies absorb iron from plant foods. And, it helps to protect cells in the body from oxidative damage.

Sweet potatoes provide potassium
Potassium is an important nutrient that helps to maintain normal blood pressure. It's also needed to ensure our nerves and muscles function normally. Around one in six of us have really low levels of potassium in our diets so could do with eating more foods rich in this nutrient.1 An 80g serving of boiled sweet potato provides 12% of our daily needs for potassium.

Sweet potatoes are a source of manganese
It's not a nutrient many of us have heard of, but it's needed in tiny amounts to keep us healthy. Like vitamin C, manganese helps to protect cells from oxidative damage. It's also important for normal bone and to make connective tissue, which holds the cells of our body together. And it helps to release energy in our body. An 80g serving of boiled sweet potatoes provides 16% of our daily needs for manganese.

Sweet potatoes are really versatile
Sweet potatoes can be cooked in lots of different ways. They're great boiled or steamed and are perfect for mashing - try using them to top cottage pie instead of regular mash. They're also delicious roasted with a little olive oil and maybe a few herbs such as rosemary or basil if you have them - perfect for adding to pasta dishes or salads. You can also use them to make chunky chips or wedges - there's no need to peel them, just give them a good scrub. And they make a delicious puree that's perfect for weaning babies. Sweet potatoes are great included in dishes, too. Try adding chunks to curries, stews, soups, casseroles or pasta sauces. They can even be eaten raw, so try grating them and adding to a salad or mixing into coleslaw.

Sweet potatoes taste delicious
Not only are sweet potatoes a nutritious veg, but they also taste delicious. Their sweet taste makes them a hit with children and adults, alike.

So make them one of your 5-a-day!


Per 80g serving of boiled sweet potato

% of the Recommended Daily Amount *

Energy (kcal)



Protein (g)



Fat (g)



Saturates (g)



Carbohydrate (g)



Sugars (g)



Fibre (g)



Salt (g)



Potassium (mg)



Phosphorus (mg)



Magnesium (mg)



Iron (mg)



Copper (mg)  



Manganese (mg)



Vitamin A (mcg)



Vitamin C (mg)



Vitamin B1 (mg)



Vitanmin B3 (mg)



Vitamin B6 (mg)



Folic acid (mcg)



Pantothenic acid (mcg)



* Where values are missing, there is no RDA for that nutrient

Potato or vegetable?
When it comes to 5-a-day, many people get confused about whether sweet potatoes should count. In theory, like regular spuds, they're classified as a starchy food. However, the Department of Health agree that unlike regular potatoes - which definitely don't count as one of your 5-a-day - sweet potatoes do count towards 5-a-day because they're usually eaten in addition to the starchy food part of a meal.3

Did you know?
Adding a little fat to sweet potatoes may help the body to absorb more of their beta-carotene. So try roasting them in, or mashing them with a little olive oil! 4


  1. National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Headline results from years 1 and 2 (combined) of the rolling programme (2008/2009-2009-2010)
  2. British Heart Foundation. Heart Disease Statistics: A Compendium of Health Statistics, 2012 Edition
  3. NHS Choices. 5 A Day: What counts?
  4. Bengtsson, A et al (2009) In vitro bioaccessibility of beta-carotene from heat-processed orange-fleshed sweet potato. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Oct 28;57(20):9693-8. doi: 10.1021/jf901692r.



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