Veggies and Fruit

A Guide to Sweet Potatoes

Orangish-brown sweet potatoes in small containers under partial sunlight

Sweet potatoes are plants native to America that have edible, starchy roots. They are rich in fibre and are nutritious, filling and delicious. The edible roots come in different shades of colour, such as brown, orange, red, yellow and beige. They belong to the Solanaceae family and grow in moderately warm environment especially in tropical and temperate regions. It is notable that sweet potatoes are quite distinct from yams and potatoes.

History:

Sweet potatoes were introduced in Europe by Christopher Columbus. He brought sweet potatoes to Spain, on his voyage back from the New World, from where they spread in other European countries. From Europe, sweet potatoes were carried to all parts of the globe. There is further hypothesizing that sweet potatoes may have been brought to Southeast Asia by the Polynesians long before the Europeans brought their varieties of it.

Interesting Facts:

Here are some interesting facts about sweet potatoes:

Sweet Potato Fries

You can cook sweet potatoes in a variety of ways. They may be baked, boiled or fried or barbecued.

  • You could even have sweet potato chips! Check out our review of one brand here.
  • Currently, China is the greatest producer of sweet potatoes in the world.
  • George Washington, the first President of the US, used to be a sweet potato farmer back in the day.
  • Sweet potatoes can be stored for a long time in a dry and cool place, without washing them, as moisture can spoil them. So, it is good to wash them just before cooking.
  • Refrigerating sweet potatoes gives them a bad taste and makes them hard.
  • Sweet potatoes are the official vegetable of North Carolina.

Health Benefits:

Let us look at some health benefits of sweet potatoes:

  • Low in calories

The great thing about sweet potatoes is that they are low in calories while still being highly fulfilling and that makes them a go-to vegetable for those watching their weight or in general, aiming for a healthy lifestyle.

  • High in fibre

The fulfilling characteristic of sweet potatoes is mostly due to their high fibre, and this aids in digestion as well, and promotes gut health. To read more about the role fibre plays in diet, read this article.

  • Low fat

Not only are sweet potatoes low in carbohydrates, they also have negligible amount of fat, which again makes them an ideal food item for those wanting to reduce their body fat. If you are looking to shift to a healthier diet, then you might want to read this.

  • Highly nutritious

Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants. As such, they provide great nutritious value and are a valuable addition to the dinner table.

2 grams (1 cup) of sweet potatoes contain:

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 41.4 grams
  • Vitamin A: 769% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 29% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 65% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid: 18% of the DV
  • Fibre: 6.6 grams
  • Manganese: 50% of the DV
  • Copper: 16% of the DV
  • Potassium: 27% of the DV
  • Niacin: 15% of the DV00

Purplish sweet potatoes pulled straight out of the soil, with a background of green leaves and trees

  • Good source of Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene which the body alters into vitamin A. In underdeveloped countries around the world, a serious problem is the deficiency of this vitamin, which research shows can be combatted by including sweet potatoes in diet.

  • Helpful in managing diabetes

The sugar in sweet potatoes is not released into the blood all at once, but rather slowly and gradually and can be helpful if you are diabetic. This means eating sweet potatoes does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels and so they can be eaten by diabetic people safely. Further, the rich fiber content and magnesium in sweet potatoes further helps in regulating blood glucose levels. Also, if you want to read about other foods that regulate blood sugar levels, then you should read about Goji berry.

  • Can reduce stress

Research shows that deficiency of magnesium is linked to depression, insomnia and anxiety. Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, hence consuming they can increase our bodies store of magnesium and be helpful in reducing stress.

  • Good for skin and hair

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C and E. These vitamins boost skin and hair health. Vitamin A helps slow down the natural aging process of the skin and helps repair skin damaged from harmful Sun rays. Vitamin C also helps in repairing of skin, as well as being an important element in synthesis of new skin cells. Vitamin E keeps hair healthy and prevents hair loss due to stress because of its antioxidant properties. If you are looking for food products that promote skin health, you should read about cranberries’ skin benefits.

Peeled, round pieces of sweet potatoes being grilled

  • Promote eye health

A research by Food & Nutrition Research has found that sweet potatoes are good for eyes, because of the antioxidants they contain. If you are looking into foods that promote eye health, then you should look at strawberries, too.

  • Help normalize blood pressure

Sweet potatoes contain potassium, which serves in regulating the blood pressure by flushing out the excess of sodium from the body, and in regularizing the contractions of heart muscles.

Things to Keep in Mind before Buying Sweet Potatoes

Purple sweet potatoes piled up

When you set out to buy these delicious, nutritious veggies, there are a couple of things you should take care of. Firstly, when buying sweet potatoes, make sure they are not majorly discolored (a little discoloration should be fine). Also, the skin should not be bumpy or cracked, but rather smooth. Secondly, pick up the sweet potato in your hand and press it. It should be firm and not give in. If it is squishy or soft from some place, it shows signs of decay. If you are buying frozen sweet potatoes, then make sure you pick out a brand that has not salted the vegetables. Also, see to it that the fat content should be minimum.

Now that we have gotten the basic things to look for out of the way, we can go a step further and look at which varieties of sweet potatoes to buy. Some of the better varieties that are also easily available at supermarkets are Japanese, Purple, Garnet and Jewel. They are each full of flavor and delicious, yet distinct in their own way.

Sweet potatoes can be kept at room temperature for 3-4 weeks and will go bad after that time, so be careful not to buy more than you need.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

RW Garcia 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers - 2 x 15 oz Bags

Gourmet Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix By Rosella Baked Goods: Delicious & Nutritious Vegan Breakfast & Brunch Recipe With Healthy, Quality Ingredients, Fiber & Vitamins, 2-Pack

Nubeleaf Sweet Potato Powder 14 Ounce Jar

Way Better Sweet Potato Tort Chips 5.5 oz (12 Pack)

Beech-Nut Classics, Sweet Potatoes, 4 Ounce (Pack of 10)

Commodity, .375 Inch Diced Sweet Potato, 5 lb. (4 Count)

Fresh Purple Sweet Potatoes-2LBS

 

Sweet Potato Products

1. RW Garcia Organic Sweet Potato Crackers

These sweet potato crackers are completely gluten-free, sugar-free and made from all-natural ingredients. That means no GMOs are added, which makes them a perfectly healthy snack, as well as nutritious, because they also contain sesame, chia and flaxseeds. Add to this the high amounts of vitamins, fibers, zero-fat and low calories of the sweet potatoes, and you have a highly nutritious and filling snack at hand. Baked goodies do not get better or more delicious than this.

2. Rosella Sweet Potato Pancake Mix

Breakfast and brunch are incomplete without pancakes, and so we bring to you a pancake mix that is full of nutrients. This flour and sweet potato pancake mix contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, B6 and E, as well as large amounts of dietary fibre. The sweet potatoes contain low calories and zero fat, as well as high antioxidants and other minerals, making this a perfect non-vegan breakfast option that is delicious and filling.

Making pancakes with this mix is simple. Just take 1.5 cups of the mix into a bowl and add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 cup of milk or water. For a non-vegan breakfast, you can add 1 egg as well. Mix well and pour two ounces of the mixture on a non-stick pan, and cook both sides for 2 minutes, and serve with honey or maple syrup.

3. Nubeleaf Sweet Potato Powder

This jar of sweet potato powder is a concentrated whole food powder rich in nutritious elements like vitamins, minerals and fiber. It contains antioxidants and has negligible fat. It has a low glycemic index, is gluten-free, has no GMOs, no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors, and is a vegan option that is truly healthy.

This nutritious powder can be used in a variety of ways. Add this powder to soups, gravies, pastas and cakes to make your meals nutritious. Add it to your after-work out protein shakes, to get a nutrition boost that keeps you feeling active throughout the day.

4. Way Better Sweet Potato Chips

Instead of regular potato chips, go for sweet potato chips to avail all the dietary benefits of sweet potatoes, while simultaneously having a delicious snack. These gluten-free sweet tortilla chips are sprouted with quinoa and chia, adding to the taste and nutrient content, and true to the name, these chips are way better than other chips!

5. Beech-Nut Sweet Potatoes

Now feed your baby healthy, high-nutrient meals. This jar of baby food is made for babies older than 6 months, and is completely free from preservatives, artificial colours or flavours. This fat-free baby food is made with natural ingredients of high-quality and is richly infused with important vitamins and minerals. Your baby will love the gentle texture and taste of the meal.

6. Diced Sweet Potato

What is better than peeled, diced, frozen sweet potatoes that come ready to be used? This 5 lb. bag of diced sweet potatoes by Commodity Vegetables ensures cooking is a simple venture. Just add these prepared sweet potatoes to your salads and soups and save prep time. If you are affiliated with a food truck or a cafeteria, then this large stock of sweet potatoes will be useful for you.

7. Fresh Purple Sweet Potatoes

At the end of the day, nothing beats fresh vegetables that you can cook how you like. Fresh purple sweet potatoes are high in dietary fibre, antioxidants, fat-free, nutritious and low in calories. You can boil these or bake them, you can fry them or cut them up and add them to soup or salad; in any case, they are tasty and filling. You can also store them for weeks, just be careful to store them unwashed, in a cool place (not the refrigerator!) and wash them only before cooking them.

Side Effects

The only side effect of sweet potatoes is that they contain high amounts of oxalates, which can be dangerous for people who are likely to suffer from kidney stones.

Conclusion

To conclude, sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, starchy, and fibre rich vegetables that deserve a place at your dinner table.

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