The raw sweet potato was first discovered in 750 BC, where man originally wondered "Can you eat sweet potato raw?" While not the first food discovered, it certainly has seniority among its peers. In the colonial period, the southeastern 13 American colonies were eating raw yams as the major food. Overall, it is a diverse vegetable with over 400 types, ranging in discovery from BC to AD and modern times.

What Is Sweet Potato?

The orange version of a raw sweet potato is often called a yam in the southeastern United States. The sweet potato, despite being erroneously called a yam, bears little similarity to an actual yam. Additionally, although it is called a potato, in terms of botany, the two are only loosely related.

A sweet potato stems from the root of the plant. It has so many shapes that no two are the same. It is typically long and can have a length of 4 inches with a width up to 2 inches as well. The plant itself usually has a medium-sized flower that grows along the vine.

The plant is a tempermental one: it does not tolerate frost, drought, or too much water. They can take anywhere between 2-9 months to mature. It has various colors, such as cream, tan, pink, purple and orange. They can be found year-round and are in season around Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States.

Can You Eat Raw Sweet Potato?

Some have wondered "can you eat sweet potato raw without cooking it?" Yes, you can eat it right out of the ground, although a thorough washing is recommended before eating. Eating raw yams should be done moderately. Besides,the vegetable has more nutrients after being cooked.


  • It has high starch content, has no saturated fats or cholesterol, and contains high levels of many nutrients, such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

  • It contains the highest rate of carotene and vitamin A in all vegetables that stem from a root. Vitamin A helps with vision and healthy skin. The raw yam also has vitamin B5, B6, B1, niacin, and riboflavin, which help with the metabolic process.

  • It also includes elements that help break down carbs, enzymes, and proteins, which are magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Many of the minerals raw yams contain serve an additional function-help to prevent lung and oral cavity cancer as well.

  • It has sugar in it, but the sugar raises the blood sugar levels at a slower rate than even some fruit sugars. It is highly recommended for those suffering from diabetes.

  • Even the leaves of the plant have more minerals and health benefits than other tubular vegetables. The leaves are even healthier than the sweet potato itself with higher contents of iron, folates, potassium, and vitamins C and K, while having a lower salt rate.

Side Effects

Raw sweet potatoes have an enzyme inhibitor that stops the trypsin enzyme from digesting proteins. The higher the protein in a raw yam, the higher the number of these inhibitors it has, thus making it hard to digest. However, this inhibitor is broken down in the cooking process.

What’s more, it also contains raffinose, a sugar partially responsible for farts. It is one of three plant tissue sugars that cannot be digested in the stomach-the other 2 are verbascose, stachyose and raffinose. These sugars end up being broken down in the intestines, resulting in CO2 and hydrogen necessary for flatulence.

How to Choose and Store Sweet Potato

The best raw yam is typically the darkest, indicating a high level of carotene, which is then converted to Vitamin A by your body. As the potato ages after being removed from the vine, it will gain a lighter color, and lose some nutrients. So nutritionists recommend eating it fresh and in season to maximize the nutritional value.

There are many things to avoid in the search for sweet potatoes. If it is soft and has wilted roots, avoid. If it feels too much like wood, it probably has too much fiber, and if it starts to grow sprouts, it will taste worse than a fresh one.

There are many things to avoid in the search for sweet potatoes. If it is soft and has wilted roots, avoid. If it feels too much like wood, it probably has too much fiber, and if it starts to grow sprouts, it will taste worse than a fresh one. 

With the exception of some old houses and farms, the plethora of people do not have a root cellar. In that case, use a cotton or paper bag and store in a cupboard away from the stove.

How to Cook Raw Sweet Potato

If you want to cook sweet potatoes, there are 3 great ways to do that, which helps add your flavor and get the most nutritions out of it.

Steam it

If boiled, sweet potatoes loose up to 1/3 of the vitamin C content, while streaming only depletes it by 20%. They retain up to 90% when microwaved or pressure-cooked since fast cooking helps retain the minerals in the food.

Boil it

When boiling the sweet potato, do not peel it. By boiling it with the skin, it can retain more of the beneficial minerals and anti-oxidants. Peel after boiling.

Apply Butter

The majority of people like a little butter on the sweet potato. Nutritionists have found that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two. A little butter can help the body absorb the vitamin A that the potato releases.

Raw Yam Casserole

Total Time: 30 minutes                 Serving: 6


1 ½ cups pecans

4 cups sweet potatoes

½ cup of water

½ cup dates

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup honey


  • Combine the potatoes, ½ cup of nuts, dates, cinnamon and vanilla in a processor and puree. Pour into a pyrex dish.

  • In a separate dish, mix the remaining nuts with salt and honey and then mingle with the potato mixture.

  • It can be enjoyed fresh (warm) or slightly chilled (in the refrigerator)


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