Flashback Friday: Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins

Flashback Friday: Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins
4.73 (94.59%) 74 votes

Sweet potatoes are not just one of the healthiest and cheapest sources of nutrition; the predominant protein is a type of protease inhibitor that may have cancer-fighting properties.


Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Sweet potatoes can be “considered…a superfood”—one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. And, one day, perhaps, even off the planet, as NASA has chosen it for space missions. One of the healthiest and cheapest. This study aimed to identify which vegetables “provided the most nutrients per [dollar].”

If you look at a graph of affordability versus nutrition, you can see that the healthiest foods, like dark green leafy vegetables, may also be among the cheapest. And the highest nutrient-rich food scores per dollar were obtained for sweet potatoes.

They’re not just packed with nutrition, but may have special cancer-fighting properties. In 1931, a unique protein was discovered in sweet potatoes. Later renamed, 80% of the protein in sweet potatoes is a type of protease inhibitor, with potential anticancer effects.

It was originally tested against leukemia cells, and appears to suppress the growth of leukemia cells in a petri dish. But, how would a sweet potato protein ever get into our bloodstream? As soon as most proteins hit our stomach, they start getting digested. So, they tried sweet potato protein against tongue cancer. Sweet potato constituents certainly come in contact with our mouth. Tongue cancer is often treated with chemo. “However, most of the chemo…[drugs] for tongue cancer have great aversive side effects, so it is indispensable for us to find [other] therapeutic strateg[ies].”

Sweet potato protein rapidly diminished viability of the cancer within a matter of days, leading them to propose that sweet potato “may be useful…for human tongue cancer”—but, presumably, not much else?

Remarkably, though, this class of proteins doesn’t just survive digestion, but may be absorbed into the bloodstream intact, in at least two of the nine women with advanced cervical cancer they tried giving them to. So, most recently it was tried on colorectal cancer cells, one of our most common and deadly cancers.

Normally, we just surgically remove the colon. But, that only works in the early stages, since there are often micrometastases outside the colon that can subsequently lead to cancer recurrence and death. And so, we’ve started searching for anti-metastatic agents. And not only does sweet potato protein slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, but decreases cancer cell “migration and invasion.” Though sweet potato consumption has been associated with lower gallbladder cancer rates, it’s never been directly put to the test. But, what’s the downside?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to chefkeem via Pixabay

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Sweet potatoes can be “considered…a superfood”—one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. And, one day, perhaps, even off the planet, as NASA has chosen it for space missions. One of the healthiest and cheapest. This study aimed to identify which vegetables “provided the most nutrients per [dollar].”

If you look at a graph of affordability versus nutrition, you can see that the healthiest foods, like dark green leafy vegetables, may also be among the cheapest. And the highest nutrient-rich food scores per dollar were obtained for sweet potatoes.

They’re not just packed with nutrition, but may have special cancer-fighting properties. In 1931, a unique protein was discovered in sweet potatoes. Later renamed, 80% of the protein in sweet potatoes is a type of protease inhibitor, with potential anticancer effects.

It was originally tested against leukemia cells, and appears to suppress the growth of leukemia cells in a petri dish. But, how would a sweet potato protein ever get into our bloodstream? As soon as most proteins hit our stomach, they start getting digested. So, they tried sweet potato protein against tongue cancer. Sweet potato constituents certainly come in contact with our mouth. Tongue cancer is often treated with chemo. “However, most of the chemo…[drugs] for tongue cancer have great aversive side effects, so it is indispensable for us to find [other] therapeutic strateg[ies].”

Sweet potato protein rapidly diminished viability of the cancer within a matter of days, leading them to propose that sweet potato “may be useful…for human tongue cancer”—but, presumably, not much else?

Remarkably, though, this class of proteins doesn’t just survive digestion, but may be absorbed into the bloodstream intact, in at least two of the nine women with advanced cervical cancer they tried giving them to. So, most recently it was tried on colorectal cancer cells, one of our most common and deadly cancers.

Normally, we just surgically remove the colon. But, that only works in the early stages, since there are often micrometastases outside the colon that can subsequently lead to cancer recurrence and death. And so, we’ve started searching for anti-metastatic agents. And not only does sweet potato protein slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, but decreases cancer cell “migration and invasion.” Though sweet potato consumption has been associated with lower gallbladder cancer rates, it’s never been directly put to the test. But, what’s the downside?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to chefkeem via Pixabay

Doctor's Note

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite snacks. During the harsh Boston winters, I used to put two freshly microwaved sweet potatoes in my coat pockets as natural hand-warmers. And then when they cooled down, my hand warmers became instant healthy snacks!

More videos on getting the most nutrition for your dollar:

What other vegetables might contain cancer-fighting properties? See #1 Anticancer Vegetable.

And for an overview on our #2 killer, How Not to Die from Cancer.

I thought these sweet potato videos might be fun to pull out around the holidays. Are sweet potatoes best steamed? Should we eat the skin? Find out in my recent Flashback Friday video: The Best Way to Cook Sweet Potatoes

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

133 responses to “Flashback Friday: Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins

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    1. WFPB-Hal, I never thought of dipping sugar snap peas into anything: we eat them plain, right from the garden when they’re in season. And I make my hummus at home: I cook chickpeas in water with bay leaves in my electric pressure cooker (I have an Instant Pot), then puree themm in a food processor with tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and whatever else I want.

      But this video will encourage me to eat more sweet potatoes. The problem is, there are so any delicious plant food recipes and dishes, it’s hard to narrow them down!

    2. I eat sweeet potatoes in place of the 1/2 bagel or English muffin in DOCs daily dozen//// breads, bagels are processed and made with oils I get my grains from oatmeal or one of the less processed grains without oils. And my nut intake is reduced to 1 tablespoon until more evidence is available, Dr. McGregor said. “only 1 diet has been proven to reverse heart disease (low-fat 100% plant base diet) I love dr. McGregor he saved my life, without his free vids, the only information I had, was from my doctor who knows nothing but pills and surgery. With those small mortifications, to the daily dozen I am cured /////( PSA dropped from 8 to 4, diverticulitis and stomach problems went away, no more blood pressure pills or flowmax pills, no pills at all)…except vitamin b 12. thank you DOC

      1. dale packwood, so glad to hear you are feeling great. Dr Greger posts his Daily Dozen several places at Nutrition Facts, https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist/
        He is very much in favour of choosing whole grains, or pseudograins, like quinoa or amaranth.

        If we do choose to eat bread, Dr Greger suggests the 5 to 1 fiber rule which he talks about here:

        There are many breads which qualify re the fiber rule, and which meet the approval of Dr Esselstyn. The Ezekial bread made by foodforlife company is just one of them. Here are the whole grain english muffins (no oil) :
        Another example is manna bread which Ann Esselstyn loves double toasted.
        Some of the hard german breads are no oil, whole grain, very high fiber too. There are lots of choices out there!

        1. Regarding breads with good fiber ratios, after learning of the test through this website, I discovered my new, most favorite bread, Powerseed, by Dave’s Killer Bread company. The ratio is better than 3:1 and the company is known to routinely, as a matter or social policy, hire ex-cons, another excellent reason for buying the brand. Note that they market several types other than Powerseed, but that one has the best ratio and a knock-out taste!

          By the way, Dr. G’s influence has changed my daily diet: One meal, every day, is one large or two small sweet potatoes, with diced fresh tomato, salsa, and a few dollops of Follow Your Heart Chipotle Vegenaise for a delicious, satisfying meal. And I, too, learned to hate sweet potatoes from my experiences in Georgia, in the 1950’s, where every serving was laced with marshmallow. I’m glad that I gave them another try…after becoming an habitué of NutritionFacts.org.

          1. steve, as a home bread baker, I was curious about the ingredients for Dave’s Killer Bread Powerseed: “Organic whole wheat (organic whole wheat flour, organic cracked whole wheat), water, Powerseed mix (organic whole flax seeds, organic ground whole flax seeds, organic rolled oats, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic un-hulled brown sesame seeds, organic un-hulled black sesame seeds), organic wheat gluten, organic fruit juices (organic apple, organic pear, organic peach), organic oat fiber, sea salt, organic cultured whole wheat, yeast, organic vinegar.” (http://www.daveskillerbread.com/powerseed/)

            There are a lot more ingredients than flour, water, salt, and yeast (the basics of bread, and all that’s needed). My guess is that they are added to speed up fermentation (fruit juice = sugar), oat fiber (to bulk up the fiber in the nutrient table), gluten (to help with bread rise for a nice open crumb), cultured whole wheat (for flavor and as a preservative), vinegar (??) Also, whole wheat flour is flour reconstituted from white flour (the starchy endosperm) and bran (the seed coat), so it’s missing the germ (the plant embryo), which has a lot of nutrients. Stone ground flour is whole grain flour — everything in the original grain is present in the flour.

            I bake sourdough whole grain bread from freshly ground wheat kernels, water, sourdough culture, ground flaxseed, and salt, and have recently been adding seeds (sunflower, flax, sesame, and chia) which I toast first. Sourdough bread dough and loaves undergo long ferments, which allows both the yeast and bacteria to grow and develop complex flavors. Sadly, I can’t find commercial bread like this, which is why I bake it. The aroma from baking bread is fabulous!! That alone would make it all worth while — but I also love my bread. And I started out using the No Knead method, with whole wheat flour and yeast, and gradually progressed to my current loaves.

            1. Dr. J, I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my earlier post. I used to bake bread, forty or fifty years ago, and understand how aesthetically pleasing it can be. I no longer am able to do so and am stuck with what’s commercially available. After becoming a vegan, at age 62, I began to search for a bread that would provide the most nutritious, yet most delicious, basis for the many uses for which I turn to bread. Notwithstanding some of the drawbacks to its ingredients, I find the Powerseed variety of Dave’s Killer Bread to be the one that best meets both criteria.

              I have removed so many previous taste treats from my palate (oh, the pizzas, the ice cream, the omelets of my youth!) since my conversion, that I tread lightly when I find an ostensibly “kosher” food product that tastes great. Add to that desperate need for palatal pleasure, the knowledge that the company hires ex-cons as a “pro-active” policy seals the deal that I will continue to turn to Dave for all my sandwich needs.

              Knead I say more?

              Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

        2. Hey,

          I just signed the petition “Donald J. Trump: FIRE NANCY PELOSI…” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

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  1. Great idea WFPB Hal! I thought I might take no-oil home made hummus to gatherings as humble hostess gifts this year. The chart in this video is really interesting and I suspect would look a little different in different areas/seasons of the country. For us, sweet potatoes are not cheap except for specials at Christmas and thanksgiving. I was surprised that borsht (beet and cabbage soup) wasnt higher on both nutrition density and affordability scales. Anyway, love the video, and so appreciate the wonderful resource you have given us Dr Greger!

    1. Barb, yes, it’s amazing how economically one can eat by choosing healthy plant foods instead of unhealthy processed food with inflated costs! But I guess we live in an “upside-down” world now. The advertisers are real experts at changing people’s view of the world.

    1. Apparently garnet “yams” are not actually yams at all but a variety of sweet potato. I have always loved them, so thanks, Dr. G! I will be reintroducing them to my diet.

          1. Danielle, what is your evidence for your statement that “Microwaving kills all the nutrients after 30 seconds?” Exactly what nutrients are you referring to, and what do you mean by “killing” all the nutrients?

            “Every cooking method can destroy vitamins and other nutrients in food. The factors that determine the extent are how long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used and the cooking temperature.
            Since microwave ovens often use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times, they generally have the least destructive effects. The most heat-sensitive nutrients are water-soluble vitamins, like folic acid and vitamins B and C, which are common in vegetables….
            THE BOTTOM LINE Microwave ovens generally do not destroy nutrients in food.” https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/health/17real.html

            “The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria. Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out. That keeps in more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method and shows microwave food can indeed be healthy.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/microwave-cooking-and-nutrition

            1. My microwave is Schrodinger’s cat. Haven’t used it in years and until I turn it on sometime in the future, I don’t know if it is dead or alive. ‘-)

              1. Lonie,

                That made me laugh.

                I just got a new microwave during the Summer. My old one stopped running, but then it started running again after I opened the door and I said, “Sorry, but you just broke the rules of our relationship in a way which I do not trust you anymore. You will have to go. Not one more sentence.”

                1. Sounds like a plot for a B-movie… Revenge of the microwaves!

                  Tagline: In a world where microwave towers become obsolete, they attempt to regain their importance by sending their signals to all the microwave ovens of the world to only work when their doors are open and thus frying the brains of their users… their power play fails when people turn on their home microwaves to cook their meals before leaving the office via their Internet of Things connections.

                  It was also found that people wearing hemp fabric clothing were protected from microwaves which would have doomed the microwave tower take-over even without the IoT remote control of ovens protecting the users.

                  Full disclosure: That last paragraph was made up in the hope it would cause more people to buy long lasting (I have a billfold that has lasted for at least 10 years with little visible wear) hemp fabric, ’cause I bought some HEMP stock today and I want to scare people into thinking it will protect against microwaves and buy a bunch of hemp clothing. ‘-)

                  1. Laughing at your plot.

                    Would make a good B movie aimed at college students, but you have to move some of the microwaves to a college campus for that audience.

                    The Fog
                    attAck of the killer tomato

                    You sold me on hemp socks, but my socks have years before they will wear out and I stopped buying white socks and they never get dirty looking either. It caused me to switch awY from every white article of clothing, particularly undergarments.

                    What made me laugh though was that many colored undergarments see a white piece of material in the crotch. Some don’t. I got rid of all need for bleach.

                    1. Gotta love random cap.

                      My iPhone will wait until I have finished a sentence and it will go back and change spelling and capitalization right when I push send.

            2. Also, cf.

              Food Chem. 2016 Apr 15;197 Pt B:1264-70. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.11.049. Epub 2015 Nov 12.
              Domestic cooking methods affect the phytochemical composition and antioxidant activity of purple-fleshed potatoes.
              Tian J1, Chen J1, Lv F2, Chen S3, Chen J1, Liu D1, Ye X4.
              Author information
              The effects of domestic cooking methods (boiling, baking, steaming, microwaving, frying, and stir-frying) and a new cooking method (air-frying) on the composition of phytochemicals (phenolics, anthocyanins, and carotenoids) and the antioxidant activity in purple-fleshed potatoes were investigated. Compared with raw potatoes, reductions of 23.59-90.42%, 7.09-72.44%, 7.45-83.15%, and 20.15-76.16% in the vitamin C, total phenolic, anthocyanin and carotenoid contents, respectively, was observed after cooking. Decreases of 7.88%, 21.55%, 22.48, 6.31%, and 61.38% in DPPH radical-scavenging activity was also observed after boiling, steaming, baking, microwaving and stir-frying, respectively, whereas an increase of 30.52% was noted after air-frying. A correlation analysis revealed that the antioxidant activity was in accordance with the total phenolic content and that this activity showed the lowest correlation with the vitamin C content.

              Among all of the cooking methods investigated in this study, stir-frying retained only slight levels of the phytochemicals and antioxidant activity observed in raw potatoes,

              ***whereas steaming and microwaving were able to retain most of the health-promoting compounds found in raw potatoes***

              and may thus be suitable methods for cooking potatoes.

                1. What is air frying?

                  It is cooking with a convection oven. I have one of those stand-alone ones with a circular glass bowl and the heating unit (using infrared heat for cooking) sits on top with a fan that circulates the air inside. When I ate meat, cooking it this way made it tender and succulent.

                  Some foods will actually fluff up, that is, get larger as air is sucked inside from the swirling action. Those stand alone models can be inexpensive and with a ring around the top can be made tall enough to put turkey in it for cooking.

                  I unplugged my cooking range quite a few years ago and now do my cooking with either the convection oven or my stand alone induction cook top (cooks using a pot that will accept being magnetized.)

                  Back when I cooked eggs I had a little plug-in gadget that would do up to 7 eggs at a time and would allow me to set for poached (my favorite) hard or soft boiled. When done, put in cold water then roll them on a hard surface and the shells would usually come right off.

      1. Great video. I will introduce sweet potato in my diet. I was wondering how I can hold of this kind of progressive doctors. I’m dealing w cancer and recently did 7 days water fasting. Now cancer is invisible but doctor insist on double mastectomy anyway. I wish to consult with doctor M.Gregor

            1. God bless you, Marita!

              Will pray for you.

              My brother is in the middle of getting diagnosed kidney cancer. They said that 1/3 of them have metastasized before it is found and only 10% live 5 years.

              I am trying to get him to water fast. I sent it again today. I want the water fasting to be in motion before the next doctor’s appointment. I bought him Modified Citrus Pectin. And he will be getting a basket of blueberries, sweet potatoes, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli and carrots for juicing and tomatoes for souping, and whatever else I can think of for Christmas. He already knows that I am not likely to be backing down very soon.

              1. Deb and Marita – I would like to recommend the cancer coaching program Square One by Chris Wark. My better half has stage 4 cancer and of all the cancer videos and books that I have spent money on(too many to list).. this one helped the most. It follows NutritionFacts.org rules but is even more conservative. Chris Wark just published a book on Amazon.. Chris Beat Cancer.

                Regarding fasting.. I have found that my honey did not mind doing the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet. Your brother might give that a try. It is a bit expensive but it is 5 days worth of food and completely Vegan.. and it is supposed to be helpful. Marita – look for an Integrative Doctor. Our integrative doctors in New Mexico are wonderful and the ones that I have worked with agree with Dr. Greger 100%. As a cancer patient most cancer centers will give you a consult for this. I hope this helps.. tons of hugs and prayers for both of you and your loved ones.

                1. Thanks plant based everyday.

                  I am confused about Chris. You are saying his plan is more conservative but when I have visited his site, he has promoted raw milk and organic chicken weekly.

                  I went there before here, but genuinely found more dietary information here.

                  1. Can you give examples?

                    I am not trying to disagree with you, I am more just perplexed by your sentences.

                    Dr Greger is vegan, low to no oil, no salt – against many supplements and is way more superfoods than McDougall, less animal products than Ornish (egg whites) or Fuhrman (who allows 5%)

                    1. Chris eats salmon, too, I believe. Dr Greger is way more conservative.

                      Chris are Apricot kernels, which have put people in the ER and which have killed young children. I remember that a 32 year old ended up in the ER after them.

                      He is pro-thibgs like blood root and flaxseed and quark and CBD oil and Mistletoe and supplements.

                      Dr Greger warns that a lot of the supplements cause Cancer to grow faster. He did a video on blood root.

                    2. Chris is pro CBD oil. Dr Greger did the studies where it can sometimes make Cancer grow faster.

                      Chris is very pro-Vitamin C IV and Dr Greger has put up so much information from study after study that Vitamin C doesn’t kill Cancer. It has been studied over and over again and it is expensive but isn’t a life saver.

                      Chris is a Weston Price Follower and Dr Greger posts T.Colin Campbell.

                    3. Chris is anti-medical model altogether and Dr Greger is looking at the studies and is not against the things which work. He differentiates.

                    4. I am not trying to put Chris down, but he is not a nutritionist or doctor and dr Greger is both.

                      Chris has good testimonies that people can heal from Cancer, even Stage 4 Cancer, but I already wasted $10,000 trying to heal my dogs Cancer and water fasting and vegan with superfoods is something I hold onto. Beta Glucan and Modified Citrus Pectin, Enzymes and Superfoods and a few cook books are what I am giving to my brother.

                    5. I think Chris is pro flaxseed oil and quark and I watched a YouTube video where a woman with Breast cancer tried it and it made her Cancer spread faster. She went off of it and did other things and was healed, but oil is something which can cause Cancer to grow faster. All oils.

                      Yes, you can do a very extreme form of 90% oil Keto type of eating and still get rid of Cancer staving it of other things, but Dr Greger is antioangiogenesis, methionine and growth hormone restriction.

                    6. Sorry for going on so long.

                      I just wanted to give examples of where the two of them are not at all alike and Dr Greger is the one who is more conservative in each of my examples.

                2. I did order the Prolon and I know that it is ridiculously expensive soup packets.

                  I feel like it is one of the things I didn’t try with my dog.

                  Water fasting was so miraculous.

                  Marita, eat for a few weeks then do the water fasting again.

                  It gets rid of bad mitochondria and Cancer is a Mitochondrial disease. It also lowers the heme oxygenase which is what confuses the immune system Into protecting the Cancer. Plus it lowers IGF-1 and Methionine and makes it harder for the Cancer to utilize glucose.

                  You already did one week and that already gives you a new immune system.

                  True north healed someone of Cancer in 18 days.

                  People out there are fasting then eating then fasting then eating until it is gone.

                3. Plant based everyday,

                  I want to humble myself because I know that when I post so many posts it can look like I am arguing. I am trying to understand.

                  My best friend also has Cancer and is using Chris’ information.

                  I would like to hear which things he recommends which helped you. I am genuinely interested in anything anybody learns.

                  My brother has a ridiculously aggressive form of Cancer and I will be looking at Chris’ materials again.

                  I can use chicken workers getting Cancer 9 times more often than everybody else versus Chris recommending eating it.

                  I can use T. Colin Campbell having Cancer turn on and off like a light switch with Caseine versus Chris promoting raw milk and I looked up the places which still drink raw milk and they have outbreaks of some conditions, and that is why pasteurization happened to begin with.

                  I just see things like that and he is open like a wide open door to so many things and I have a list of caution flags with Chris, but I love watching the videos of survivors.

        1. Marita,

          I just re-read your sentences. You did 7 days of water fasting and the cancer is now invisible.

          7 days is the earliest I have heard for water fasting getting rid of cancer. That is fabulous!

          I put my dog on water fasting after 5 months of trying to manage his cancer with diet. I had the same experience where I could see the tumors literally shrinking after 2 days. Before the water fasting, he couldn’t get up off of the slippery floor unless I physically put a throw rug underneath his paws. After the water fasting, he can get up without the throw rugs. For the five months, he had constant symptoms of infection and now he hasn’t had any sign of infection for a month. It was so much more powerful than the superfoods that I am already someone who would just say to do water fasting regularly for a while to make sure it is gone and don’t use animal products or oils.

          I definitely don’t think I would do a double mastectomy if the cancer is invisible. I would do ultrasounds or some way of monitoring more frequently this first several months or more. Make sure you really got rid of it.

          1. Marita,

            It is a good time to tell your doctor you want a second opinion and change doctors.

            My logic is because the 2nd doctor will start where you are now and is less likely to stage it the same and will be less radical.

            Good luck!

  2. Flashback Fridays are great. Brings to the forefront videos I probably would never have run across as there is just too much here to go through everything without prompting.

    And this reminds me I have some smaller purple sweet potatoes (gave the larger ones to my sister) in my garage that I should treat myself to for the holidays.

    1. I went to see Spider Man Multiverse tonight and thought of you, Lonie.

      Wild and experimental, endlessly clever and fascinating homage to Stan Lee and the whole Spidey franchise.

      The closest to a comic book any of the superhero movies have been.

      Anyway, I thought of the logistics to what you are trying to do and I thought about the flashback Friday intro. Yeah, they just need to push it further and put up an alternate NF.org and let the flames go longer.

  3. My question is a little early regarding the 10th video of this volume “Brain Healthy Foods to Fight Aging”,but is there any good research on foods/lifestyle changes for Cerebral amyloid angiopathy ? From what I could see online there is little that can be done to impact this condition.

    1. Hi CAA, thanks for your question. I noticed Dr Greger had a video on brain and food. It mentioned that the brain takes up less than like 2% of the body weight, but may burn up to 50% of the body’s fuel, creating a potential firestorm of free radicals. So, maybe these brain-seeking phytonutrients in berries could fight oxidation, inflammation, and increase blood flow. So, this raised a “thought-provoking idea.” Maybe a “nutritional intervention with blueberries may be [beneficial] in forestalling or even reversing the neurological changes associated with aging.”
      How to Slow Brain Aging by Two Years

        1. I have a dehydrator and dry at low temperatures (115f) which retains all the nutrients etc. I often grind dry goods to powders for the sake of ease of use and storage space in my small kitchen. If you look on Pinterest and Google you’ll find a plethora of uses for powdered food such as berries, tomatoes, onions, garlic etc. With organic fresh berries for instance I often make fridge jam. Whizz your fruit in a blender to required consistency having added a date or two for sweetness. I still sterilise the jars in the oven so I don’t get Mold growing. Then I use this as a topping for nice cream and a hundred other uses. Hope this helps.

        2. There are health benefits to powdered blueberries. Whole and mashed blueberries are great as well. Berries that are blue in color have specific nutrients not found in other berries, but red berries like strawberries have many helpful nutrients as well. Enjoy! -Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

    2. my understanding is that effective control of blood pressure is an important part of managing this condition.

      A healthy diet and regular daily exercise will help in this regard. In addition to Spring003’s excellent recommendation, I would therefore suggest watching and reading the videos and blog posts on this site about blood pressure/hypertension

  4. I am curios to exactly HOW the sweet potatoes were ‘tried on colorectal cancer cells’ in the study mentioned. Hopefully it was not a suppository! Happy holidays everyone whatever you celebrate this season.

    1. Hi Jimbo, thanks for your question. They actually did the study invivo and invitro. The in vitro study they put sweet potato proteins on human colorectal cancer HCT-8 cells. The invivo they tested it on mice! So in both case they noticed Sweet Potato Protein (SPP ) exerts significant anti proliferative and antimetastatic effects on human colorectal cancer cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo. I hope this explanation is helpful to you.

  5. I know some folks who despise sweet potatoes. I’m like “WHAT!?! That’s mother natures candy!” Then I say, “Good, more for me, hehe!” Thank you for the awesome info Doc!! & all the great ideas in the comments. Good bye to store bought hummus!

    1. I never tried regular sweet potatoes due to the bad memories of awful canned yams (in syrup) and marshmallow thing my mother, and every adult I knew, used to put together for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas (only had that one time when I was 6 years old). You would think being a child I would like the overly sweetened side dish, but I found it so gross. I had my first real sweet potato a couple months ago after starting WFPB diet – I’m almost 63. They are so good.

      1. @ Ana45:
        YES! Us too! When I made plain, baked sweet potatoes for dinner, my husband was less than thrilled-he too had been given those awful sweet syrupy, marshmallow bombs too! Then he ate the plain sweet potato. Now, he says that he wishes that he had been given plain sweet potatoes years ago! He loves them!
        This poor man is someone whose mother fried hotdogs (and pretty much everything else) in Squeeze Parkay margarine!!!!!

        1. “This poor man is someone whose mother fried hotdogs (and pretty much everything else) in Squeeze Parkay margarine!!!!!”. Oh, good God.

          1. Ana and Skeptical Grammy,

            Thanks for sharing!

            Yes, I had never had them plain either.

            And had never even seen purple ones until a year ago. Hard to find the purple on the inside ones.

  6. Random question that I hope someone has seen a little research on- if I get the purple variety of something like purple kale, peppers, potato, etc, I know that means it’ll have more anthocyanins. Does that mean that those varieties carry less of other antioxidants though?

    1. Hi Ryan Hallett, thanks for your question. There are so many polyphenol compounds in a for example a red cabbage. For example : artemetin, betanilin, button, equal, hydroxyflavone, kaempferol, luteolin, malvidin, naringenin, pelargonodin, purpurogalin, quercitol, and tetrahydrochalcone. There are Glucosinolates that have anti cancer properties.

      glucoraphanin sulforaphane SFN
      glucobrassicin indole-3-carbinol* I3C
      sinigrin allyl-isothiocyanate AITC
      glucotropaeolin benzyl-isothiocyanate BITC
      So rest assure there are so many antioxident in anthocyanin rich compound for example in red cabbage.

      Drewnowski A. New metrics of affordable nutrition: which vegetables provide most nutrients for least cost? J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Sep;113(9):1182-7.
      Duchnowicz P, Bors M, Podsadek A, et al. Effect of polyphenols extracts from Brassica vegetables on erythrocyte membranes (in vitro study). Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2012 Nov;34(3):783-90.
      Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March; 55(3): 224-236. 2007.
      Hounsome N, Hounsome B, Tomos D, et al. Changes in antioxidant compounds in white cabbage during winter storage. Postharvest Biology and Technology, Volume 52, Issue 2, May 2009, pages 173-179.

  7. Well, we got the news earlier than we thought that my brother has a suspicious mass in his kidney. They are pretty sure he has cancer. His next appointment is after Christmas.

    I want him to water fast already, but it will be hard to get him to water fast over Christmas – even 48 hours, to bring down the enzyme which stops the immune system from seeing the cancer. Pretty please?

    I will find out if he likes sweet potato. That would be an easier sell, but he might like it with brown sugar or mini-marshmallows or maple syrup.

    1. I just ordered him 3 mimicking fasting kits and he is getting that and a basket of organic produce, including sweet potatoes for Christmas.

        1. Thanks Lonie.

          I appreciate you and Tom.

          I am doing better emotionally today.

          My other brother and co-workers were joking with my brother about “Who needs 2 kidneys anyway?”

          My co-worker gave me 3 hugs and said, “We need you to be calm” and it worked.

    2. I am very sorry to hear that Deb. Not sure if this is of any help but it seems that exercise (or other physical activity) and achieving a normal weight may help kidney cancer patients

      ‘Among 222,163 individuals with complete follow-up data we identified 71 kidney cancer-specific deaths. In multivariate analyses, individuals who reported “any physical activity” were 50% less likely [adjusted hazard ratio (adjusted HR) 0.50, 95% CI 0.27–0.93, p = 0.028] to die of kidney cancer than non-exercisers, while obese individuals (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) were nearly 3 times more likely (adjusted HR 2.84, 95% CI 1.30–6.23, p = 0.009) compared to those of normal weight (BMI < 25 kg/m2).'

      1. Cool Tom! Thanks!

        I feel like God has just walked me through all of these lessons about cancer and now I need to know it for someone so precious to everybody.

        I have to thumb wrestle him into 48 hours of water fasting or 5 days of soup immediately to lower the stupid heme oxygenase first.

        He listened to my words, but he didn’t say, “Wow, getting your immune system to see that you have cancer doubles the survival rate, maybe I should get started on this. I can my T-cells fighting the cancer before Christmas.”

        Some of us need to suggest sentences like that.

        1. They have changed meds for it and have added immunotherapy within the past 2 years. That makes me feel like he has blessed timing.

          I listened to The Food Revolution Summit this year and Dr. William Li said that immunotherapy only seems to work when people eat pomegranates or cranberries, but when it works, it works very well.

          I feel like knowing tidbits like that ahead of time will help.

          1. Apparently immunotherapy works particularly well for kidney cancer.

            I want him to try it first with the cryotherapy.

            But water fasting does the same thing cheaper and faster. I am praying my heart out that he will try it even before the doctors visits happen.

    1. LOL, I just read that. I wonder what people thought when they saw Dr. Greger randomly pull sweet potatoes out of his pockets and started eating them. Haha. Love it.

  8. So this video made me curious. I don’t go by calorie or nutrient sites for reasons I could go on and on about, but I’m at least familiar with the existence of them. So I went to cronometer and compared the same amount of baked sweet potato to the same amount of boiled sweet potato, and while there is a video here which showed that boiling sweet potatoes actually was one of the best ways to keep the nutrients intact, according to cronometer, baked has substantially more nutrition than boiled. I wonder where they’re getting this information. It’s confusing and makes me wonder what I’ve previously already wondered, just how accurate these types of websites (calorie/nutrient measuring websites) are.

    1. S,

      Thanks for sharing that.

      I found the same thing when I used to do Sparkpeople and another site. There is a lot of wrong information on those sites.

  9. I am somewhat confused regarding the name—sweet potato. Sweet potato–to me–is white fleshed–tan skinned–potato–similar in shape to a red/orange flesh–brown skinned “Yam”. Can anyone make clear the difference between the name Yam and Sweet potato?

    1. I’ve seen two different types of sweet potatoes sold at one store I go to, one has more orange flesh and skin and the other tan skin and white flesh but the ones I get from Trader Joe’s regularly are have orange skin and flesh. I had assumed that yams were the whiter fleshed but I really don’t know. Good question.

      1. What is marketed in north america as ‘yams’ are m9st often sweet potatoes. Garnet and Jewel varieties are sweet potatoes. At the video I posted above thete is a lengthy discussion about the differences, and Geoffrey posted a pic of a yam – not at all what we commonly see in stoes. The potatoes pictured in both videos are sweetvpotatoes. Moist sticky sweet juices are there when baked.


        1. Many thanks Barb for an excellent–directly to the point–reply to my question.
          Had to wade through many unrelated replies to get yours.
          I’m glad I hung in till yours arrived.
          Now, if you could just make perfectly clear- which variety of this vegetable–the good doctor is referring to in many of his talks.
          Is he recommending the—light fleshed/tan skinned–or the red/orange fleshed/dark skinned (yam) type?
          Happy holidays to you and yours.
          Al Bruton

          1. Barb definitely answered your question, but considering I don’t see any replies under your post other than mine, I can only assume that was a not so indirect way of expressing annoyance over my post… didn’t mean to create a “many unrelated reply” you had to apparently wade through, was just offering my shopping experiences with sweet potatoes albeit to no conclusion but I was curious too.

          2. hi Al, the sweet potatoes here are usually of the Jewel or Garnet varieties with the deep orange flesh and reddish/orange skin, or the pale tan coloured ones that have a slightly drier texture. Of those varieties, the deeply orange coloured ones will be the most nutrient dense. They are pictured above in the video. Also, there are several purple varieties that we rarely get here but I did try them. Two have purple skins but one has purple flesh, the other light coloured onside. Both are good to eat, not as sweet and the solid purple one would be more nutrient dense (using Dr Greger’s reasoning). The type with tan outside and purple inside I have not tried yet.. but the Okinawans did well eating them!
            Happy holidays to you Al, and to everyone!

      2. cf.

        Yam vs. Sweet Potato:
        A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene.

        Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple. The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the United States several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”

        Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Despite the label regulations, most people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity.

        1. Thanks for clearing that up. I always thought the Pale smaller varieties were Sweet potatoes and all the big bright colored ones were Yams.
          “I Yam what I Yam!”

        2. I do thank everyone for their input regarding my question about the differences between Yam and sweet potato.
          It has been made clear that the brown skinned/orange flesh–“Yam”– in North America– is a variety of sweet potato.
          These two potatoes are the only variety of sweet potato that are offered in my area.

          I would still like to know which of the two— –the tan skinned/white fleshed sweet potato– –the brown skinned/orange fleshed Yam—– –is the most nutritious–and offers the most benefits.

          Thanks again–and happy holidays to all.

          1. albruton, the sweet potatoes sold in my area are labelled wrong, so for years I thought I was eating yams… amazing what you learn on Nutrition Facts! According to Dr Greger, if we have a choice we should choose the most highly coloured vegies we can because they generally the most nutritious. So, purple, then red/orange, then tan coloured but (!) he always adds thatvthe most nutritious are the ones you will eat. So, whichever one works with your dinner menu, enjoy!

            1. Thanks again for all the prompt and helpful replies to my questions regarding sweet potatoes.
              As a result I have the information I need I will now unsubscribe from this chat.
              I do hope the help needed will be there for you when you in the future.

    2. If you are in America, you may never have seen real yams.

      The confusion came because people from Africa came to this country and thought sweet potatoes were similar to their yams and called them yams.

      Grocery stores call some sweet potatoes yams to differentiate.

      I have already forgotten the story, but it goes back to immigrants.

  10. It was cool that Thom Hartman mentioned Nutrition Facts on the radio today.

    Yams are a type of sweet potato, garnet yams are the orange ones. At the Asian market they called a brown hairy root “yam”, I think it is taro. It was delicious {peeled).

  11. Aren’t vegetables wonderful!? I recently had a gut analyses done with one of the major companies that does such things. They found an overgrowth of a pathogen and also Plant Mottle virus which they reckon raises an inflammatory response in the body so my dietary recommendation by their experts has been to avoid all the plants like cabbage, sweet potato, cucumber, peppers, white beans, tomatoes etc. for a while. How long? Weeks and weeks. I spoke to an independent prof. of virology who told me that these viruses are not dangerous as they just pass through us but the gut analyses company say differently. I asked the prof. if heat kills these viruses and yes it probably does but cold would probably not. The analysts know I am vegan and removing these vegetables from my diet puts a serious crimp in what I can eat. The problem as I see it is that they deal with mostly people who eat animals products and who are less likely to have a lot of Mottle. I am very interested if Dr. G or any of the other consultants on these pages could give me their opinion. I did ask the analysts if the different strains of Mottle virus in my gut were alive or dead which they did not answer. I imagine this answer could be important. Opinions please. Thanks very much.

      1. Barb, I looked at the reference you provided; the authors state that there is some evidence “that PMMoV might infect humans and cause clinical symptoms,” although “as [the authors of the cited reference] also have pointed out, the symptoms like abdominal pain and fever may be due to spicy food.” “To establish plant virus as human pathogen, evidence of its entry into cell, replication therein and finally fulfillment of Koch’s postulation is necessary.” So, this virus has not been shown to be a human pathogen, to infect humans and cause symptoms. It has been shown to be somewhat stable as it passes through the human digestive tract.

        1. Yes Dr J, so I was thinking that if I was Charmaine, i would be going back to the company asking them to provide proof to the contrary. I sure the heck wouldn’t be changing my diet based upon their analysis. But maybe that’s just me. If I was truly worried about gut issues, my doctor would rever me to a gastroenterologist for endoscopy.

        2. Thank you for your answer Dr. J. I did in fact question the analysis and mention that heat would probably destroy the virus according to information I got from prof. Racaniello. The analysts pointed out that the virus present in the biome causes inflammatory markers to increase and in my case my inflammatory markers are a shade higher than average…when I look at the chart it’s looks a good bit past average to me. They didn’t answer my question as to wether the virus they found was alive or dead. Can a dead virus still raise inflammation? The PMMotV wasn’t the pathogen they found…that was A Baumanii. Where it came from I have no idea. Potentially this information is fantastic but still in its infancy. Any other research people find will be most welcome. The learning curve is steep. Frankly it bothers me that this plant virus potentially does have the ability to infect humans even though it hasn’t been shown to be a pathogen yet. But could it become one? Interestingly their dietary recommendation to avoid the various plant foods that are infected with MMotV are for the organically grown plants. Organic peppers, organic cucumbers, white beans which is exactly what I do. We eat as much organically grown as possible and I’m wondering if in this instance the pesticides and herbicides actually kill the viruses. All the things on their avoid list we eat in the organic form. It wouldn’t help washing and peeling either because the viruses are both on and in the plants.

      2. Thank you Barb. I appreciate the reference. You are lucky you have a physician that pays attention to such things. Mine does not which is why, when I started to feel unwell for no good reason I could see, I decided to help myself by having an analysis done before any other more intrusive protocols are applied. It’s a good thing I did too.

    1. Charmaine,

      You are right that they are comparing you to averages when the average person tested will be SAD meat eaters who use vegetables treated with Round Up.

      I noticed that on one of the pages where they did testing of gut microbiome.

      Also, one on-line journalist sent their sample to many places and the results were wildly different between different labs and I mean wildly different.

      The places I looked at had the philosophy of variety is always better versus good versus bad gut bacteria.

      Anyway, 5 to 7 days water fasting is the quickest way to decrease a viral load and get a new immune system.

      The pub med link Barb posted, if you go to the bottom, they said nobody has studied it yet. Nobody knows the answers, but I sudpect if the plants were causing problems, there would already be anecdotal evidence in the Vegan and WFPB communities. Particularly in the elderly.

      1. hey Deb, just thought I would let you know that my cholesterol test was the worst ever :( !
        I am so depressed about it. I had put together everything I knew … amla, 4 brazil nuts/mo., 2 apples/day, soy protein etc etc, and my cholesterol went UP ! LDL is now in the danger zone so it looks like I will be living on non starchy vegie gruel for the rest of my life. Very disappointing. Vit B, iron, magnesium all good.

      2. Thanks Deb! Your answer is interesting to me. I can see in the muddle of information from the various sources on the net and labs that the truth will lie in there somewhere. I wonder if the 7.2% of adults in the group that tested positive for PMMotV were representative of people who ate organic, were vegetarian or vegan? It would be interesting to know. The analysts that did my tests are notably a plethora of PHDs and other well educated people (that not implying that they can’t be hampered by their own opinions!) I was insistent on answers and they respond well to that. It took a lot of pushing to get an answer. I haven’t heard anyone from the WFPB or Vegan societies talking about this on the summits, lectures and articles I have scoured..Kahn, Klapper, Dr. G, Barnard etc. which is why finally I called on Dr. G my ultimate trusted place to go. And yes Deb you are absolutely on the money with fasting. I’ve just done a 3 day fast. I’m working my way up to 5-7 days. I’ve been feeling pretty low and thought I had better to make sure I have the stamina to do a longer fast safely. I’m really greatful for the answers from everyone. Many people thinking on a problem makes it so much easier to sort the chaff!

          1. Charmaine, this is a very interesting question you have raised, and new to me – haven’t seen anything on this topic in all the years I’ve been reading NutritionFacts. I do hope Dr Greger or his team can offer insights/direction on what you can do to feel better soon! In the meantime, we’ll keep looking :)

  12. Hearing how much folks on this site love their sweet potatoes is encouraging to me. I still struggle to like them ‘a lot’ and am working on that. I love the sweet potato hummous idea and will definitely incorporate that as a dip into my lifestyle. So I thought I’d share this Sweet Potato Apple Bake recipe that I found on McDougall’s site since it is so simple and easy. Could be made for either a meal or dessert.
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1 large baking apple
    1/4C unsweetened applesauce
    1/2 C water
    2 medium garnet yams
    Slice both apples and yams and layer alternately in a baking dish. Mix the apple sauce w/water and pour over the layers; sprinkle with cinnamon.

    Prep: 15mins, Bake 50mins @ 400 degrees
    I think this quick n easy recipe would also be dynamite with pumpkin pie spice! You could also layer with raisins, dates if you wanted more sweetness. You could also go the opposite route and go in the savory direction by adding poultry seasoning.
    Happy Holidays to everyone – especially Dr. G and the staff!

    1. Thanks for the recipe! It’s always nice to get a WFPB recipe instead of having to tweak a recipe to be oil free, etc.

      You might like sweet potato fries (baked, not actually fried). You don’t have to add any oil or anything even for regular potato “fries” and they come out awesome. But with sweet potato fries, I find they almost have an “oil” tasted to them because they’re so juicy. I just lay them out on parchment paper, no oil needed, and season to preference.

      Happy Holidays!

  13. Hey everybody, I am looking for some advice. My friend had a whipple operation which seemed to have went well about 7 month ago. The scar healed great from the outside but not inside. She is going through chemo therapy. A nutritionist told her she might need animal protein to support tissue healing and therefore is critical of an alcaline diet. What are your thoughts and facts?

    1. Here’s the standard nutritional advice for people who have undergone the Whipple procedure.

      It notes that fatty foods (including fried foods) should be avoided (so should refined carbohydrates) or at least minimised. Animal foods tend to be quite fatty

      I would add that there is no credible scientific evidence to support alkaline diets as such. Low fat whole food plant based diets are another matter.

  14. I wonder if regular potatoes provide similar positive effects?
    Can’t live without potatoes, but I always eat regular ones. Switching my cooking patterns to sweet ones would be challenging.

    Dmitriy P,
    Shilajit Secret

  15. Is steaming sweet potatoes as beneficial as boiling? With boiling, doesn’t one lose many of the nutrients in the water? With steaming, you use less water. Of course, you can save the water for soup, I suppose, but that doesn’t always work with my cooking/eating desires.

  16. I appreciate how smoothly the website runs; thank you! A gentle comment to the website folks: In choosing the stock photo of sweet potatoes, I’m surprised that the one selected has the sweet potatoes surrounded by an excess of plastic. Seems sort of odd. Thanks.

  17. What do you think about the lectin Info that the Dr wrote books about regards causi g obesity and disease and the lectin foods best to avoid being specifically wheat, nightshades and legumes?

    1. Alana, Dr. Greger has videos on lectin and apart from the lectin in raw kidney beans (made safe from just a mild bit of cooking to where they don’t even have to be cooked through), it’s actually healthy for us. Lots of videos on nightshades, too. Anyone saying some of the healthiest foods cause obesity is someone I wouldn’t even bother listening to because knowing what I’ve learned about these foods, to hear that just sounds like insane ramblings.
      I would say that wheat might be an issue for some people if they’re celiac (obviously) or have a wheat allergy (like me) and then there’s the gluten intolerance possibility but I don’t think anyone knows how real that is or not and I also wonder about the homogenized wheat being an issue for some people but I don’t know of any evidence. But foods like legumes, tomatoes, whole grains, etc. will actually help you lose weight. I’d listen to Dr. Greger on this. Meat, eggs, dairy and things like that will help to cause obesity, on the other hand.

  18. Hi thank you for your tremendous contribution to public health. You lift me up as I see there are still caring good people out there.
    My question is about eating the skin of sweet pototoes. I have been faithfully trying to add sweet potatoes with their skin into my vegetable dishes, even keeping them ready to add to anything —-by boiling and freezing them in the refrigerator ready to add.
    However concerning oxalates I have read that a potatoe baked with skin has high oxalate content. Is this because of the skin? I have been ignoring the baked patotoe oxolate thing just to get the other benefits of the sweet patotoe.
    Any ideas amyone? I’m finding it difficult to get good information on oxalate content on the internet.
    With deepest respect

  19. Hi Lale Ann Gokyigit – Thanks for reaching out and for all of your support! Eating the skin of potatoes is a great way to boost fiber intake and take advantage of all of the nutritional benefits that sweet potatoes have to offer! Baked potatoes with the skin do have a high oxalate content, however unless you have a history of kidney stones or test high for oxalate, you do not need to be concerned about following a low oxalate diet. So enjoy your sweet potatoes!

    If you are interested in more information on oxalates, here is a reliable resource with a list of foods and their oxalate content: https://regepi.bwh.harvard.edu/health/Oxalate/files/Oxalate%20Content%20of%20Foods.xls

    I hope you find this helpful!
    -Janelle RD (Registered Dietitian & NutritionFacts.org Health Support Volunteer)

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