Three phenonmenal uses for sweet potato

Three phenonmenal uses for sweet potato

Sweet potato is a common vegetable food source, belonging to the family of rhizomes, though many countries and regions regard it as cereals. It has numerous eating options; it can be grilled, cooked, steamed, fried, when ready its fragrant delights the senses. Sweet potato is neither cold or hot in nature, it is suitable for cold and hot constitution individuals to consume.In different countries, there are different names for sweet potato.

In Beijing during the autumn and winter roasted sweet potato is a very popular food and you are able to buy it from most busy and popular streets. It is warm and has a delicious scent which you can smell from a mile away. I suggest that if you are traveling to Beijing in the autumn or winter you should try this delicious food.

1. Health benefits of sweet potato

In traditional famous ancient chinese medicine and diet therapy books “Ben Cao Gang Mu” and “Sui Xi Ju Yin Shi” mentions that sweet potato has many health benefits, having a neutral characteristic and sweet taste.

i) Help digestion and bowel movement
Sweet potato is beneficial in digestion and it promotes the development of the spleen, aids digestion, improves intestinal peristalsis (contraction), help to clear constipation. Chinese medicine considers that if your spleen and stomach are weaker, it will effect the transportation of the food and will make the bowel movement very sluggish and the body will have the following symptoms: Bloating (especially after eating), lack of energy, heavy arms and legs and puffy legs and arms. If old stool is stuck in the intestines, it will affect other parts of the body the body may experience headaches,weight gain and insomnia. In my clinical experience some of the causes of under reactive thyroid is due to spleen and stomach deficiency and weakness.
I suggest that if you have sluggish bowel movement and there has been no success in treatment, you can eat certain amounts of sweet potato in substitution for bread, rice or noodles.

ii) Sweet potato can help to increase energy and immune system
Chinese medicine considers the body energy and essence to come from before birth from the kidney and digestion (spleen and stomach). Therefor the bodies energy and immune system is associated with the two organs. When the bodies essence is lower the immune system will be lower as well and you may be more susceptible to pathogenic attack. I suggest that following people who suffer the following symptoms should eat sweet potato: lack of energy, after long illness or operation and easy to get the cold or flu.

iii) Moisten joints and loosen stiffness
Traditional Chinese therapy text book mentions that sweet potato can nourish and moisturize the internal organs and and especially joints and tendons.

2. Recipe

Sweet potato porridge
1 Cup of chopped sweet potato (without skin) boiled in 3 cups of water and simmered for 15 minutes until the sweet potato is soft. Add 2 or 3 tablespoon of oats and it is ready to eat.

Effects: Helps digestions, strengthens the spleen and stomach which will help bowel movement.

3. Precautions

i) Sweet potato is best to eat cooked at room temperature or warm. If you eat cold sweet potato, especially on a cold day it may cause diarrhea.

ii) Do not eat too much at once as it may cause bloating and stomach fullness. Eat 1 cup three or four times a week.

iii) Sweet potato contains higher sugar, so if you have a sugar it is best to avoid to eat.

iv) If you are unsure of your constitution, please advise you experienced TCM practitioner.


Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.