Sweet Potatoes & Blood Sugar

You can control Type 2 diabetes with diet.

You can control Type 2 diabetes with diet.

Living with Type 2 diabetes doesn't have to be difficult. Eating right with this condition means understanding the effect foods have on your blood sugar levels so that you can choose foods that won’t spike your blood sugar and avoid those that will. To determine how a food affects blood sugar, or blood glucose levels, a scale known as the glycemic index scale is used. According to the glycemic index scale, sweet potatoes have a moderate impact on blood glucose levels.

Glycemic Index Scale

One way to keep your diabetes in check is to use the glycemic index scale when deciding what to eat. This scale ranks carbohydrates from one to 100 based on how they affect blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index raise your sugar levels faster than those with a low glycemic index. According to the Mayo Clinic, this scale is beneficial because it may help you lower your blood sugar levels, regulate your blood sugar throughout the course of a day, reduce your dependency on diabetes medication and control your appetite, which may help you lose weight. Some drawbacks of the scale are that it only looks at one food at a time instead of food combinations, doesn’t consider how much you are eating, only includes carbohydrate-containing foods and doesn’t take into account the other nutrients in the food. Speak to your doctor or a dietitian about using the glycemic index scale to help you choose the right foods to control your Type 2 diabetes.

Sweet Potato Values

A boiled sweet potato has a glycemic index of 44 out of 100, meaning a sweet potato increases your sugar level 44 percent as much as eating the same amount of glucose. This is based on a 150-gram sweet potato. A peeled and fried sweet potato of the same size has a glycemic index of 77, which is not as high as a baked sweet potato, which checks in with a glycemic index of 94.

Cooking Effects

The way you cook your sweet potatoes impacts their glycemic index. Boil them instead of frying, roasting or baking them. The starch of a boiled sweet potato has the consistency of jelly as it travels through your digestive system, meaning it travels and releases nutrients more slowly than the softer, baked sweet potato. Eat the skin of the sweet potato. The skin contains fiber which slows digestion and prevents blood sugar levels from quickly rising. Don’t overcook sweet potatoes. The more you cook them, the higher the glycemic index.

Considerations

Sweet potatoes have a moderate affect on blood sugar levels, but they are still better than other starches, such as white bread and potatoes. Additionally, sweet potatoes are chock full of nutrients, including vitamin A, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Additionally, a 150-gram sweet potato has 135 calories and no fat. Avoid putting butter, sugar or other high-fat, high-calorie ingredients on them as this will increase the glycemic index. Try a sprinkle of olive oil and cinnamon as a healthier alternative.

 

About the Author

Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.

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