People try all sorts of fad diets in their desperation to lose weight, but the truth is nothing takes the place of real, whole food nutrition. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals paired with regular exercise is the key to long-term health and wellness, and that doesn’t come with any sort of short cut. On the other hand, there are certain nutrient rich choices you can make that will give you more bang for your buck. These ‘super foods’ come in all shapes and sizes, but one in particular could be hiding right under your nose. Sweet potatoes, also referred to as yams, are packed with nutritional goodness, with the added benefit of an inexpensive price tag. They have a number of properties that make them a much better choice than yellow or white potatoes, and you can substitute sweet potatoes in any recipe without losing anything. Here are five of the top health benefits of sweet potatoes.

First of all, sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene. Beta-carotene, also referred to as vitamin A is a key antioxidant. And all it takes is eating one, medium-sized sweet potato to realize the full recommended daily allowance. Vitamin A will protect your skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure, both as a preventative measure and by repairing UV damage. It helps keep your eyes healthy, and has been shown to aid in the prevention of various cancers.

Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of fiber. In fact, they will provide you will close to twice the fiber of a standard potato, as much as seven grams in a single serving. It’s a great starch to include with a meal, since it is a complex carbohydrate. The energy it releases burns through your system more slowly, helping you maintain a balanced energy level without those simple carbohydrate peaks and valleys.

You probably don’t think about vitamins E or C when considering a sweet potato, but you’ll find both plentifully represented in this superfood. As with beta-carotene both vitamins are strong antioxidants, helping you live a longer life and avoid diseases. In addition, C and E vitamins increase the vitality of your hair and skin, improving complexion and follicle strength. If you’re concerned about hair loss, this is certainly good news.

Manganese is a trace mineral in several foods, and it usually doesn’t get much attention. But it is present in sweet potatoes, and brings with it a few more incredible health benefits. Manganese will help your body metabolize carbs, assisting with that balanced blood sugar you want. If you are on a diet, the manganese in sweet potatoes will keep you free of cravings for hours longer than other starches. In addition, manganese can treat anemia, lessen the impact of PMS symptoms, and assist your body with putting all of those fantastic antioxidants to use.

Perhaps the most important health benefit of sweet potatoes is that they will help stave off heart disease. Sweet potatoes are packed with the vitamin B6, one of the keys to avoiding hardening blood vessels or arteries. Sweet potatoes also include a good amount of potassium, which will draw sodium out of your body and help lower your blood pressure. With all of these benefits there’s really no reason not to add sweet potatoes to your diet right away. Check out if you need some help with recipes to get your family on board. But baked, mashed, sautéed or fried, a sweet potato a day will surely help keep the doctor away!