Can You Eat Raw Sweet Potato? (Benefits And Risks)

These sweet-tasting tuberous roots are well-rounded nutritional powerhouses with a great deal of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

What’s also great about sweet potatoes is that there are many different ways to cook them. For example, you can bake, mash, fry, or even make sweet potato chips.

But can you eat raw sweet potato? If so, what are some of the benefits and downsides?

Is It Safe To Eat Raw Sweet Potato?

peeling sweet potatoes

While sweet potatoes can safely be eaten raw, there are a few things to consider.

You have probably heard that regular white potatoes contain an anti-nutrient called lectin, which can cause digestive issues such as diarrhea, cramping, gas, and bloating.

In addition, they can have various levels of solanine, known for causing gastrointestinal problems, illness, and even eventual death. Cooking potatoes will destroy lectin, and frying potatoes could help destroy solanine [1], [2].

Luckily, sweet potatoes do not contain solanine and are extremely low in anti-nutrients like lectins, making them much safer to eat when raw [3].

However, sweet potatoes’ high fiber levels can make them hard to digest, which can also cause gastrointestinal issues. Alongside their raffinose content, eating too many raw sweet potatoes could lead to bloating, flatulence, and other uncomfortable sensations.

Conclusion? Eating raw sweet potatoes is perfectly safe if done in moderation. Too much of anything is never a good idea, and the same goes for sweet potatoes. So, when uncooked, eat them in moderation, and you shouldn’t get any digestive problems and may even get some benefits.

Benefits Of Eating Raw Sweet Potatoes

infographic raw sweet potato benefits

The research done by Food Science and Human Wellness study found that it is not easy to digest and absorb all the nutrients from raw sweet potatoes because of the high starch content [8]. 

But the study also concluded that although cooking could increase the bioavailability of nutrients, there is no single cooking method that retains and protects all nutrients and antioxidants in sweet potatoes. So, depending on the cooking method you use, you will inevitably lose some nutrients in the process.

Although absorbing all the nutrients from the uncooked sweet potato may be somewhat limited, below are some of the nutritional benefits you could expect.

Raw sweet potato is approximately 77% water and 20% carbohydrates; it contains a good amount of fiber, minimal protein, and no fat. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin C, A, B5, B3, and B6, while also providing plenty of essential minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, and more [4].

In addition, a single sweet potato serving could give you approximately 400% of the vitamin A you need daily. Raw sweet potatoes are also a valuable source of carotenoids—powerful antioxidants that can help protect your cells from oxidization and everyday damage [5].

Is It Better To Eat Sweet Potatoes Raw Or Cooked?

raw vs cooked sweet potato

Taking into account the poor nutrient absorption of raw sweet potato and the digestive issues it could cause, I would say that cooked sweet potato is probably the better option for you. In my opinion, it is certainly more delicious when cooked.

However, one thing is certain, though—raw sweet potatoes are far less caloric, with the differences in nutritional value being quite jarring upon close comparison.

For example, one cup of baked sweet potatoes contains 180 calories, 41.4 g of carbs, and 16.9g of sugar. In comparison, a cup of raw sweet potatoes has 114 calories, 26.8 g of carbs, and 5.6 g of sugar [6].

In short, raw sweet potatoes are less caloric and have nearly half the carbohydrate content as their baked counterparts, not to mention their much lower sugar levels. The reason behind this vast difference lies in the nature of starch.

Once exposed to heat, starch granules break down and make it much easier to digest and convert into sugars, increasing its glycemic index from 15 when raw to 33 upon baking [6], [7].

Naturally, raw sweet potatoes have this one advantage since they are not exposed to heat and, subsequently, have a lower GI.

Texture And Taste of Uncooked Sweet Potatoes?

peeled and cooked garnet

When properly cooked, sweet potatoes have a delicious creamy texture and slightly sweet flavor that makes them ideal for both savory and sweet dishes. But when raw, they feel firm and solid to the touch with a dense texture. Taking a bite out of it will feel significantly less satisfying than eating its cooked counterpart.

Also, keep in mind that there are many types of sweet potatoes, each with its own taste and texture. The ones with dark skin and orange flesh are slightly softer, a tad bit sweeter, and feel somewhat moister than the other variant.

In contrast, sweet potatoes with light brown skin and pale flesh feel firmer to the touch and have a drier texture [4].

When eaten raw, the flavor is far less sweet, and the fresh taste will be more noticeable. It may be slightly akin to carrots, but it’s overall rather neutral and won’t overwhelm your palate.

Although, for some, eating it raw may be a bit of a challenge, incorporating it into dishes, still uncooked, can make it much more palatable.

Best Ways To Eat Raw Sweet Potatoes?

raw sweet potato smoothie

You may be curious enough to try and bite a chunk out of one. However, please do not—it won’t be your best experience.

Instead, consider incorporating it into recipes to make it more edible while maximizing the nutritional benefit and minimizing the gastrointestinal side effects.

Luckily, there are plenty of raw sweet potato recipes that are rather delicious and won’t cause you any gastrointestinal distress.

The first and most popular way to enjoy raw sweet potatoes is smoothies. They are low-calorie enough to make for an excellent healthy smoothie ingredient while providing vitamins A, C, and plenty of fiber.

My favorite combination is sweet potato, turmeric, orange, and ginger smoothie.

Another ideal dish to include raw sweet potato are salads of any kind since they are as versatile as carrots. Julienned or french cut raw sweet potatoes have a noodle-like texture and consistency with a slightly sweet and crisp texture that can be utterly refreshing.

Read Also: 12 Sweet Potato And Avocado Recipes.

Overall, raw sweet potatoes are healthy snacks that are best enjoyed in moderation, incorporated into smoothies or salads. They are a good source of fiber and vitamins and a safer option for your blood sugar levels than cooked ones.

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