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Is it safe to juice sweet potatoes?

Introduction

Sweet potatoes are nutritious root vegetables that provide many health benefits. Juicing sweet potatoes has become a popular way to consume this veggie, providing a concentrated dose of its nutrients in liquid form. However, there are some things to consider when juicing sweet potatoes, including potential health benefits and risks. This article will explore the safety and effects of drinking sweet potato juice.

Nutritional Profile of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including:

  • Vitamin A – Crucial for immune function and eye health.
  • Vitamin C – An antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and boosts immunity.
  • Potassium – Helps control blood pressure and heart function.
  • Fiber – Promotes digestive and heart health.
  • Beta-carotene – An antioxidant that gives sweet potatoes their orange color. Converts to vitamin A in the body.
  • Anthocyanins – Plant pigments with antioxidant effects that may lower diabetes risk.

Sweet potatoes also contain smaller amounts of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and more.

Overall, they provide over 100% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A in just one medium sweet potato.

Nutrition in Sweet Potato Juice

Drinking sweet potato juice allows you to take in a concentrated dose of the vegetable’s nutrients.

For example, a 1 cup (240 ml) serving of sweet potato juice provides:

  • Calories: 131
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 100% DV
  • Vitamin C: 28% DV
  • Potassium: 12% DV
  • Iron: 6% DV

Compared to eating 1 medium baked sweet potato:

  • Calories: 103
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 438% DV
  • Vitamin C: 33% DV
  • Potassium: 542 mg (12% DV)
  • Iron: 8% DV

As you can see, sweet potato juice is a bit lower in vitamin A and potassium compared to eating the whole vegetable. However, its vitamin C content is fairly comparable.

Overall, sweet potato juice can provide a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in each serving.

Potential Benefits of Sweet Potato Juice

Here are some of the top evidence-based benefits associated with consuming sweet potato juice:

May Boost Immunity

Sweet potatoes are loaded with immune-supporting nutrients like vitamins A and C.

Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system while vitamin C stimulates white blood cell production and activity (1, 2).

Drinking sweet potato juice can help increase your intake of these immunity-boosting vitamins.

Supports Eye Health

Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of provitamin A carotenoids like beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A, which is essential for eye health and vision. It helps preserve the cornea and protect against infections and dry eyes (3).

Getting enough vitamin A is important for preventing common eye issues like night blindness. Sweet potato juice is an excellent way to increase your vitamin A intake.

May Help Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer (4).

Sweet potatoes contain antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene and anthocyanins that help fight inflammation by reducing oxidative stress in the body (5).

Drinking sweet potato juice can flood your system with anti-inflammatory antioxidants to help protect against chronic disease.

May Promote Blood Sugar Control

Animal and test-tube studies indicate that sweet potatoes may help regulate blood sugar levels.

This is attributed to compounds like anthocyanins contained in the purple and red varieties. They appear to increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar uptake in the body (6).

More research is needed, but adding sweet potato juice to your diet may aid blood sugar control, especially for those with diabetes.

Downsides of Juicing Sweet Potatoes

Despite the potential upsides, there are some downsides associated with juicing sweet potatoes that need to be considered.

Lower in Fiber

The biggest disadvantage of juicing sweet potatoes is that it removes the high fiber content found in the whole vegetable.

Fiber moves slowly through the body undigested, promoting fullness and regulating appetite. It also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which impacts immunity, weight management and more (7).

Lacking fiber, fruit and vegetable juices are not as filling and pass through your system more rapidly. This can lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.

To get the fiber lost through juicing, consider blending sweet potatoes into smoothies instead or consuming the leftover pulp.

High in Sugar

Juices made solely from fruits and vegetables are naturally high in sugar since the fiber has been removed.

While the sugar in sweet potato juice is natural and unprocessed, it can add up fast. Consuming too much sugar from any source may promote insulin resistance, weight gain and fat accumulation if you exceed your daily calorie needs (8).

To cut down on the sugar content, consider diluting your sweet potato juice with water or low-sugar vegetables like cucumber or spinach.

Potential Pesticide Exposure

Since you use the entire vegetable to make juice, any pesticides on the skin or flesh of sweet potatoes can end up in your drink.

Washing produce helps remove some pesticides but not all. Peeling sweet potatoes before juicing eliminates this concern but also significantly lowers the nutrient content.

Your best bet is to buy organic sweet potatoes whenever possible or give conventionally grown sweet potatoes a good scrub before juicing.

High in Vitamin A for Some

While vitamin A is incredibly important, getting too much can be harmful.

Consuming excess preformed vitamin A from animal foods may cause symptoms like blurred vision, nausea and dizziness (9).

Though rare, symptoms of hypervitaminosis A have also been reported in people taking high-dose beta-carotene supplements for extended periods of time (10).

Those with certain health conditions like liver disease are more vulnerable to vitamin A toxicity. If at risk, limit sweet potato juice and other rich vitamin A food sources.

Oxalate Content

Sweet potatoes contain small amounts of oxalates, which are plant compounds that bind to minerals like calcium, preventing absorption.

In large amounts, oxalates can increase the risk of kidney stones in some individuals. Cooking sweet potatoes and limiting intake is recommended for those prone to kidney stones (11).

Drinking sweet potato juice in moderation is unlikely to cause issues for most people. Those with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid overdoing it.

Who May Want to Avoid Sweet Potato Juice

Sweet potato juice is not recommended for certain people:

  • Children under one year old due to the risk of nitrate toxicity from vegetable juices.
  • Individuals taking blood thinning medications like Warfarin, as the vitamin K in sweet potatoes can interfere with effectiveness.
  • Those with kidney stones or at risk, due to the oxalate content.
  • People with hypervitaminosis A or other conditions that cause sensitivity to vitamin A.

Pregnant women may also want to limit intake of vitamin A-rich sweet potato juice due to the potential risk of birth defects from excessively high vitamin A intake.

It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before adding sweet potato juice to your routine if you have any medical conditions or take medications that may be affected.

How to Juice Sweet Potatoes Safely

Follow these simple tips to safely enjoy sweet potato juice:

  • Wash thoroughly. Scrub sweet potatoes with a brush under cool water to remove dirt and surface pesticide residues.
  • Peel for less oxalates. Peeling eliminates most of the oxalates found in the skin. This reduces kidney stone risk for those prone.
  • Drink in moderation. Keep servings around 1 cup or less per day, especially if you’re at risk of vitamin A toxicity.
  • Dilute and rotate. Cut the sugar content by diluting with water or other veggies. Rotate sweet potatoes with lower sugar options.
  • Use organic when possible. Choose organic sweet potatoes whenever available to minimize pesticide exposure from conventional produce.
  • Don’t juice alone. Combine sweet potatoes with low-sugar produce like cucumber, celery or spinach.
  • Drink pulp. To get the fiber lost through juicing, consider blending or consuming the leftover pulp.
  • Store properly. Refrigerate sweet potato juice for up to 3 days or freeze for a few months to retain nutrients.

Sweet potato juice can be made using a juicer, blender or food processor. Try pairing it with ginger, carrots, apples or lemon for extra flavor.

Final Thoughts

Juicing sweet potatoes allows you to take advantage of their many nutrients in drinkable form. Potential benefits include improved immunity, eye health, lower inflammation and better blood sugar control.

However, downsides include less fiber, more sugar and potential pesticide exposure compared to eating the whole vegetable. Juicing may also increase intake of compounds that can cause issues in high amounts for some people.

Enjoy sweet potato juice in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Limit intake if you have kidney stones or a health condition that requires closely regulating vitamin A consumption.

Overall, drinking fresh sweet potato juice can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet for most people when prepared properly. But sweet potatoes still provide the most benefits when consumed whole.

The Bottom Line

Sweet potato juice is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may boost immunity, vision and blood sugar control. However, it’s lower in fiber and higher in sugar than eating the whole vegetable. People prone to kidney stones or vitamin A toxicity should moderate intake, but juicing sweet potatoes is considered safe for most adults when kept to about 1 cup per day. To maximize benefits, enjoy sweet potato juice as an occasional part of a healthy diet focused on whole fruits, veggies and other fiber-rich plant foods.