Orange sweet potatoes can help reduce cases of diarrhea in young children, recent research suggests. According to researchers, consuming orange sweet potatoes can reduce the likelihood of diarrhea among some young children by more than 50 percent.

Erick Boy, head of nutrition at HarvestPlus, explained that the body converts the beta-carotene in the sweet potatoes to vitamin A the same day the food is eaten. That vitamin A is then used in the outer lining of the human gut, forming a barrier against different types of bacteria. Boy further explained that the gut uses surplus vitamin A from time to time to replace worn-out cells with healthy ones.

The researchers claimed that if a child below age 5 has consumed orange sweet potatoes in the past week, then the chances were 42 percent less that child would suffer from diarrhea. In children below age 3, the likelihood of developing the condition reduced by 52 percent.

Regular consumption of orange sweet potatoes also helps decrease the duration of diarrhea, the researchers claimed. The team observed that the duration was reduced by 10 percent among 5-year-olds and 25 percent in 3-year-olds.

“Using OSP to provide vitamin A is a fraction of that cost. Given the popularity of OSP -- children especially love its taste -- we think it is a sustainable solution to improving nutrition and child health in many countries complemented by supplementation where it is cost-effective,” said researcher Alan de Brauw from the International Food Policy Research Institute, in a statement.

The study has been published in the journal World Development.