Sweet potato leaves, which are the plant’s bright and healthy greens, are becoming more popular as a versatile and healthy food. The tuberous root of the sweet potato has been loved for a long time because it tastes good and is good for you. However, the sweet potato leaves, which were once thought of as a waste product, are now being valued for their health benefits and culinary possibilities.
In this article, we will learn more about sweet potato leaves, including what they are good for, how they can be used in cooking, and the joy they bring to different dishes.
Can you eat sweet potato leaves?
Yes, sweet potato leaves can be eaten, and many cultures around the world do so regularly. People know about and eat the tuberous root of the sweet potato plant, but the leaves are also good for you and can be used in cooking. Sweet potato leaves have a mild taste that is a little bit earthy and goes well with many dishes. They can be cooked and eaten in stir-fries, soups, salads, and even drinks. Before eating sweet potato leaves, it is best to wash them well and cook them the right way to make sure they are safe and to improve their flavor.
Nutritional Value of Sweet Potato Leaves
The leaves of sweet potatoes are full of important vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are good for you. Health benefits of eating sweet potato leaves, include better digestion, a stronger immune system, and less inflammation.
|Elements||Quantity (mg/100 g DW)|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||0.856−1.498|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.248−0.254|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.053−0.128|
|Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)||0.32−0.66|
Health benefits due to various bioactive compounds found in sweet potato leaves [3, 4, 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
|Dietary fiber||Antioxidant activity|
|Dietary protein||Growth performance enhancement|
|16-amino acid-peptide (IbAcp)||Anticancer|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Cardioprotection|
Vitamins (see Table 1)
Sweet potato leaves are high in a variety of vitamins. They are exceptionally high in vitamin A, accounting for a large chunk of the RDA. Vitamin A is necessary for preserving good vision, improving immunological function, and fostering optimal growth and development. Furthermore, sweet potato leaves contain significant amounts of vitamin C, which is essential for immunological function, collagen formation, and antioxidant defense. They also contain vitamins E and K, which help with skin health, blood coagulation, and bone metabolism. [1, 2]
Minerals (see Table 1)
Sweet potato leaves contain a wide spectrum of important minerals. They are particularly high in potassium, an electrolyte that aids in blood pressure regulation, muscle function, and heart health. Other minerals present in sweet potato leaves include calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese, all of which help with a variety of body activities including bone health, oxygen transport, energy production, and antioxidant defense. [1, 2]
Antioxidants (see Table 2)
Sweet potato leaves are high in antioxidants, which are chemicals that help protect cells from free radical damage. These antioxidants, which include beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, have been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancer. In addition, the presence of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant responsible for the brilliant purple or red coloring in some varieties of sweet potato leaves, increases their potential health benefits. [3, 4, 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
Sweet potato leaves are remarkable for their high protein content when compared to other leafy greens. Protein is required for the formation and repair of tissues, the production of enzymes and hormones, and the support of overall growth and development. Sweet potato leaves also provide dietary fiber, which assists digestion, promotes satiety, and helps maintain a healthy gut microbiota. [3, 4, 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
Research shows that eating the leaves of a purple sweet potato can have a big effect on how the immune system works. When you eat 200g every day for two weeks, your plasma polyphenol levels go up, lymphocytes multiply, and cytokines IL-2 and IL-4 go up.
Notably, the activity of natural killer cells also gets better, protecting against free radicals and making the immune system stronger. If you eat purple sweet potato leaves, they may help get rid of free radicals, avoid lipid peroxidation, and make your immune system stronger.
Harness the Power of Sweet Potato Leaves for Lipid Peroxidation 
When it comes to fighting lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress, purple sweet potato leaves are very helpful. Studies show that eating 200g of purple sweet potato leaves every day for two weeks lowers oxidative stress markers, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage.
Notably, it raises the amount of -tocopherol in the blood and increases the amount of glutathione in the erythrocytes. These leaves successfully stop the oxidation of LDL, lengthen the time that LDL stays in the blood, and reduce the production of reactive oxygen species.
With their high levels of antioxidants, sweet potato leaves have a lot of ability to protect against lipid peroxidation and keep the heart healthy.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a major threat to public health. High blood pressure and hypertension are common risk factors. CVD risks may be lessened by eating sweet potato leaves.
Researchers have found a link between these leaves and a decrease in lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and the amount of cholesterol in the liver. Also, they control the amount of glucose, insulin, and fats in the blood. The fiber in sweet potato leaves may help the body get rid of bile acids and cholesterol, which could lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Also, the leaves have good biomarkers that are linked to a lower chance of CVD, such as lower plasma total cholesterol and triglycerides, VLDL-C, LDL-C, and HDL-C, and higher HDL-C. Not only do they help relax the blood vessels, but they also guard the endothelium of the blood vessels. Adding sweet potato leaves to your diet could help protect you from heart disease.
A lower chance of lung cancer has been linked to eating more vitamin A-rich vegetables, such as sweet potato leaves. People who ate more sweet potato leaves had less of a chance of getting this type of cancer. Bioactive parts in sweet potato leaves have been shown to stop the growth of human cancer cells, which is pretty amazing.
Polyphenolic substances like caffeic acid and di- and tricaffeoylquinic acids, which come from sweet potato leaves, have been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells and make them commit suicide (apoptosis).
These results are in line with the fact that polyphenols in sweet potato leaves can protect against cell mutations and stop the growth of cancer cells. It is thought that the antimutagenic actions of caffeic acid and caffeoylquinic acid derivatives come from how they react with polyphenols.
Adding sweet potato leaves to your diet might help avoid cancer by taking advantage of their powerful bioactive compounds.
Sweet Potato Leaves Improves digestive Health 
The fiber in sweet potato leaves can help digestion by keeping bowel movements regular and avoiding constipation. Also, the leaves have natural enzymes that help break down and absorb nutrients, which is good for the digestive system as a whole.
Leaves of sweet potatoes have a lot of chlorogenic acid, which is a form of caffeoylquinic acid that is good for your health and has been shown to protect against cancer, high blood pressure, germs, diabetes, and heart disease. 
Culinary Uses and Preparation of Sweet Potato Leaves
The leaves of the sweet potato are both healthy and useful in the kitchen. Their unique taste and soft texture make them a great addition to a wide range of dishes. Here are some ways you can use sweet potato leaves in cooking and how to prepare them:
Stir-fries and sautés: You can stir-fry or sauté sweet potato leaves with other veggies, proteins, and seasonings. Heat oil in a pan and add garlic or onions for flavor. Add the leaves and any other items you want. Cook until the leaves turn limp and soft. With this process, the leaves of the sweet potato will keep their bright color and mild flavor.
Soups and stews: The leaves of the sweet potato can add protein to soups and stews. Add them near the end of cooking so that they keep their bright color and crisp texture. They are a great addition to veggie soups, hearty stews, and even traditional African dishes like egusi soup.
Salads and raw dishes: You can eat raw sweet potato leaves in salads or as a fresh filling for sandwiches and wraps. If you want to eat them raw, make sure to wash them well and choose the younger leaves for a softer taste. The leaves can give your salads a nice crunch and a hint of bitterness to balance out the other tastes.
Smoothies and Juices: Add sweet potato leaves to smoothies or newly squeezed juices to make them more healthy. Mix them with fruits, veggies, and the liquid base of your choice to make a healthy and refreshing drink. Adding bananas, pineapples, or citrus fruits to a mixture of sweet potato leaves can help balance their slightly sour taste.
Blanching and boiling: Sweet potato leaves can be used in different recipes after they have been quickly blanched or boiled. This method makes the leaves more tender and less bitter. After boiling or blanching them, you can put them in stir-fries, soups, or traditional recipes.
Growing and Harvesting Sweet Potato Leaves
Growing and picking sweet potato leaves can be fun and give you a fresh supply of these healthy veggies right in your backyard or garden. Here’s how to grow sweet potato leaves and pick them:
Choose the Right Type: Choose a type of sweet potato that is grown especially for its leaves. Some types are made so that they have more leaves instead of growing tubers. “Georgia Jet,” “Murasaki,” and “Tokyo Bekana” are all popular types of sweet potato leaves.
The best conditions for growing sweet potato leaves are full sun and warm weather. Make sure the spot where you plant gets at least 6 hours of direct sunshine every day. The earth should be loose and full of organic matter. It should also drain well.
Stem cuts or slips can be used to grow new sweet potato leaves. Slips are the young shoots that grow from the sweet potato seeds. To grow more plants from slips, put a sweet potato in a jar with water and wait for the slips to grow. When the slips are about 6 to 8 inches long, gently pull them away from the sweet potato and put them in the ground or in pots.
When planting, loosen the soil and mix in compost or other well-rotted organic waste. Dig holes or ditches that are about 4 to 6 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. Put the slips in the holes or trenches, partly burying them and making sure the leaves are above the surface of the soil.
How to Water and Care for Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potato leaves need to be watered often to keep the dirt moist but not soggy. When the top inch of dirt feels dry, water it deeply. Putting mulch around plants helps them stay wet and keeps weeds from growing. Fertilize periodically with a balanced organic fertilizer to support leaf growth.
Harvesting: Sweet potato leaves can be picked when they are the right size, which is usually between 8 and 10 inches long. To gather, just cut the leaves close to the main stem. Leave a few leaves on the plant so it can keep growing. Taking leaves often encourages new growth and makes sure there is a steady supply.
How to store and use: Sweet potato leaves are best when they are still fresh. If you have more leaves than you can consume immediately, you can store them in a plastic bag or container lined with a damp paper towel in the refrigerator. They will be good for several days.
By following these steps, you can enjoy the satisfaction of growing and harvesting your own sweet potato leaves, ensuring a fresh and abundant supply of these nutritious greens for your culinary delights.
No, sweet potato leaves are not poisonous. However, sweet potato leaves contain oxalic acid in it.
Can I Eat Raw Sweet Potato Leaves?
Even though sweet potato leaves are usually safe to eat, it is best to cook them first. Raw sweet potato leaves may have natural chemicals in them that can be slightly poisonous or make some people’s stomachs hurt. Cooking the leaves breaks down these chemicals and makes them safe to eat. It also makes the leaves taste and feel better.
Cooking methods like stir-frying, sautéing, boiling, or blanching can help soften the leaves, improve their taste, and make sure that any possible poisons are turned off. These ways of cooking not only make sweet potato leaves taste better, but they also help bring out their health benefits.
Because of this, it’s best to cook sweet potato leaves well before putting them in your food. Explore different ways to cook and recipes for sweet potato leaves to enjoy their rich tastes and health benefits.
Where can I buy sweet potato leaves?
You can get sweet potato leaves from different places, based on where you live and how easy it is to get to them. You can find sweet potato leaves in the following places:
Local Farmers’ Markets: Visit your local farmers’ markets, which often have a wide range of fresh food, including sweet potato leaves. Farmers in the area might grow sweet potato leaves and sell them along with other veggies.
Specialty Grocery shops: Check out specialty grocery shops or markets that cater to certain ethnic cuisines. These stores might sell a wide range of fresh foods, like sweet potato leaves, to meet the wants of many different cooking styles.
Asian Grocery shops: Sweet potato leaves are often used in Asian cooking, so Asian grocery shops are a good place to look for them. Look for shops that sell Asian foods because they are more likely to have sweet potato leaves.
Ethnic Food Markets: Check out food stores that sell products from Africa, the Caribbean, or Latin America. In these cuisines, sweet potato leaves are a popular ingredient, and you can buy them fresh or in a package at these stores.
Online Grocery Stores: There are a lot of online grocery stores that sell fresh food, like sweet potato leaves. Check out trusted online platforms or websites that bring fresh food right to your door.