Amazing Health Benefits of Sweet potatoes and Nutritional Value Added

Amazing Health Benefits of Sweet potatoes and Nutritional Value Added

The sweet potato (lpomoea batatas) is not a member of the potato (Solanaceae) family but rather of the Convolvulaceae, or morning glory, family. In the United States, the darker, sweeter sweet potato is often called a yam. In actuality it is not a yam, but is in fact a variety of sweet potato.

There are nearly 400 sweet potato varieties. Their flesh may be white, yellow, or orange, and the thin skin may be white, yellow, orange, red, or purple. Some are shaped like a potato, being short and blocky with rounded ends, while others are longer with tapered ends.

Sweet potatoes are grouped into two different categories depending upon the texture they have when cooked: firm, dry, and mealy, or soft and moist. In both types, the taste is starchy and sweet, but different varieties have different, unique tastes.

History of  Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are native to Central America. They have been consumed since prehistoric times, as is evidenced by sweet potato relics dating back 10,000 years that have been discovered in Peruvian caves, making them one of the oldest vegetables known.

As with other foods indigenous to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus was the first to bring sweet potatoes to Europe. Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the sixteenth century took sweet potatoes to Africa, India, Indonesia, and southern Asia. Early settlers in the southeastern United States began cultivating sweet potatoes, making them a staple food in this region even today.

In the mid—twentieth century, the orange- fleshed sweet potato was introduced to the United States and given the name “yam” to distinguish it from the white-fleshed sweet potato to which most people were accustomed. The name “yam” was adopted from nyami, an African word for the root of the Dioscorea genus of plants, which are considered to be true yams.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates that the moist-fleshed, orange-colored sweet potatoes that are labeled as “yams” also be accompanied by the label “sweet potatoes” in an attempt to distinguish between the two, but for many people this does not help to clarify the distinction between these very different root vegetables. Yet once you experience the distinct taste and texture of a real yam, you will definitely know the difference, appreciating each of these root vegetables for their unique qualities.

Sweet potatoes are a featured food in many Asian and Latin American cuisines. Today, the main commercial producers of sweet potatoes include China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, India, and Uganda.

Sweet Potato Types

Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile, but before you can use them in all their glory, you have to know what kinds of sweet potatoes you’re dealing with. Yes, there’s more than one type of sweet potato at your local grocery store. Here are 16 different sweet spuds in a range of colors, textures, and flavors to consider as you make your favorite sweet potato recipes.

Hannah Sweet Potatoes

Hannah

SKIN – Cream colored and pretty smooth.
FLESH – Cream/whitish colored that becomes yellow when baked.
TASTE – Pretty sweet and fairly firm inside (Hannah sweet potatoes are considered a dry or firm sweet potato meaning that the flesh is pretty firm and dry when cooked).

Japanese Sweet Potatoes

SKIN – Purple and fairly smooth. Generally more round (“fatter”) than the Stokes purple sweet potatoes, which are more elongated.
FLESH – Whitish flesh that turns golden when baked.
TASTE – Very sweet and fairly firm inside.
NUTRITION – Data from Calorie Count.
Serving Size: 1 medium (130g)
Calories: 113
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Potassium: 438mg
Total Carbohydrates: 27g
Protein: 2.3g
Vitamin A: 202%*
Vitamin C: 30%*
Calcium: 5%*

Jewel Sweet Potatoes

SKIN – Orange/copper. I find it really hard to tell garnet and jewel sweet potatoes apart because their coloring is fairly similar both inside and outside. To me, it seems that garnets are slightly more redish in color on the outside.
FLESH – Deep orange.
TASTE – Mildly sweet and fairly firm inside.
NUTRITION- Data from Earthbound Farm.
Serving Size: 3/4 cup (85g)
Calories: 70
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 15mg
Total Carbohydrates: 23g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 2g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 300%*
Vitamin C: 10%*
Calcium: 2%*
Iron: 2%*

Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes

SKIN – Deep purple.
FLESH – Deep purple.
TASTE – Not very sweet, and pretty dry inside.
NUTRITION – Data from HealthGrove.
Serving Size: 4 oz (113g)
Calories: 130
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 0
Total Carbohydrates: 29g
Dietary Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: Vitamin C: 20%*
Calcium: 4%*
Iron: 6%*
Antioxidants – these purple sweet potatoes are high in anthocyanin, a phytochemical.

Garnet Sweet Potatoes

Garnet Sweet Potato

SKIN – Redish/Dark Orange.
FLESH – Orange.
TASTE – Mildly sweet, and pretty moist inside.
NUTRITION – Data from Earthbound Farm.
Serving Size: 3/4 cup (85g)
Calories: 80
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 15mg
Total Carbohydrates: 22g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 2g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 300%*
Vitamin C: 8%*
Calcium: 4%*
Iron: 2%*

Korean purple

Korean Purple

An Asian heirloom variety, has speckled purple skin and white flesh. Baking or boiling coaxes out its chestnut-like flavor

Dusky red-skinned Beauregard

This is the most widely grown commercial cultivar. This versatile variety lends itself to baking, boiling, mashing, or frying.


Creamsicle,

Creamsicle

named for its combination of cream-colored exterior and sugary, vibrant-orange interior, has firm flesh great for frying or boiling.

 

Nutritional Highlights of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of carotenes. In general, the darker the variety of sweet potato, the higher the concentration of carotenes. Sweet potatoes are also a very good source of vitanuins C3 and B6. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of manganese, copper, biotin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B2, and dietary fiber. A 100 gram serving provides 90 calories, 2 grams of protein, 20.7 grams of carbohydrate, and 3.3 grams of fiber, but only 8.4 grams of sugars.

Nutrition Facts: Sweet Potatoes, Raw — 100 grams

Amount
Calories86
Water77 %
Protein1.6 g
Carbs20.1 g
Sugar4.2 g
Fiber3 g
Fat0.1 g
Saturated0.02 g
Monounsaturated0 g
Polyunsaturated0.01 g
Omega-30 g
Omega-60.01 g
Trans fat~

Carbs in Sweet Potatoes

A medium-sized sweet potato (boiled, without skin) contains 27 grams of carbs. The main components are complex carbohydrates called starches, which make up 53% of the carbohydrate content. Simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose then make up another 32% of the carb content.

The glycemic index is a measure of how fast blood sugar values rise after a meal. Sweet potatoes have a medium to high glycemic index, varying from 44-96. Given the relatively high glycemic index of sweet potatoes, large amounts in a single meal may be unsuitable for diabetics. Boiling seems to be associated with lower glycemic index values than baking, frying or roasting.

Starch

Starches are often split into 3 different categories based on their characteristics during digestion. The starch proportions in sweet potatoes are as follows.

  • Rapidly digested starch (80%) that is quickly broken down and absorbed, increasing the glycemic index value.
  • Slowly digested starch (9%), which breaks down more slowly and causes a smaller rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Resistant starch (12%) that escapes digestion and acts like fiber, feeding the friendly gut bacteria. The amount of resistant starch may increase slightly by cooling the sweet potatoes after cooking.

Fiber

Cooked sweet potatoes are relatively high in fiber, with a medium-sized sweet potato containing 3.8 grams. The fibers are both soluble (15-23%) in the form of pectin, and insoluble (77-85%) in the form of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.

Soluble fibers, such as pectin, may increase satiety, decrease food intake and reduce blood sugar spikes by slowing down the digestion of sugars and starches. Insoluble fibers have been associated with health benefits, such as reduced risk of diabetes and improved gut health.

Protein in Sweet Potatoes

A medium-sized sweet potato contains 2 grams of protein, which is relatively low. Sweet potatoes contain unique proteins, called sporamins, that account for more than 80% of the total proteins. The sporamins are produced in the potato whenever the plant is subjected to physical damage, to facilitate healing.

Recent research suggests that these proteins may have antioxidant properties. Despite being relatively low in protein, sweet potatoes are an important protein source in many developing countries.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sweet potatoes are rich in many vitamins and minerals, and provide an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Listed below are the most abundant vitamins and minerals in sweet potatoes.

Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is transformed into vitamin A in the body. The recommended daily amount of vitamin A can be achieved with only 100 grams of sweet potatoes.

Vitamin C: An antioxidant, which may decrease the duration of common colds and improve skin health.

Potassium: Important for blood pressure control, this mineral may decrease the risk of heart disease.

Manganese: A trace mineral that is important for growth, development and metabolism.

Vitamin B 6: Plays an important role in the conversion of food into energy.

Vitamin B 5: Also known as pantothenic acid, this vitamin is found to some extent in nearly all foods.

Vitamin E: A powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that may help protect the body against oxidative damage.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of mag­nesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral.

Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the popula­tion in North America may be deficient in this important mineral.

Sweet potatoes contain iron and support a healthy immune system.

Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper im­mune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things

They are a source of potassium.

Potassium is one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.

They are versatile.

Try them roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients. Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods.

Other Plant Compounds

Like other whole plant foods, sweet potatoes contain a number of plant compounds that may affect our health. The antioxidant activity of sweet potatoes increases with the color intensity of the flesh. It is highest in colored varieties, such as purple, deep orange and red sweet potatoes.

Beta-carotene: An antioxidant carotenoid that is transformed into vitamin A in the body. Adding fat to the meal can increase its absorption.

Chlorogenic acid: The most abundant polyphenol antioxidant in sweet potatoes.

Anthocyanins: Purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanins, which possess strong antioxidant properties.

Coumarins: Sweet potatoes contain small amounts of esculetin, scopoletin and umbelliferon, which may prevent blood clotting and help inhibit replication of the HIV virus in animal and cell studies.

Absorption of vitamin C and some antioxidants increases in sweet potatoes after cooking, while levels of other plant compounds may decrease slightly

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain unique root storage proteins, which have been shown to exert significant antioxidant effects. In one study, these proteins had about one third the antioxidant activity of glutathione one of the body’s most important internally produced antioxidants.

The presence of these proteins, along with the high content of carotenes and vitamin C, makes sweet potatoes a valuable food for boosting antioxidants in your body. – Unlike many other starchy vegetables, sweet potatoes are classified as an “anti-diabetic” food.

Animal studies have shown that sweet potatoes actually help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve the response to the hormone insulin.

Prevention of Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A plays an important role in our body, and deficiency in this essential nutrient is a major public health issue in many developing countries. Deficiency can cause both temporary and permanent damage to the eyes and even lead to blindness. It can also suppress immune function and increase mortality, especially among children and pregnant and lactating women.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of highly bioavailable beta-carotene that is transformed into vitamin A in our bodies. The intensity of the yellow or orange color of the sweet potato is directly linked to the beta-carotene content.

Orange sweet potatoes have been shown to have a superior ability to increase blood levels of vitamin A compared to other beta-carotene sources, as they contain the “trans” variety of beta-carotene, which is highly bio-available. This makes the consumption of sweet potatoes an excellent strategy against vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

Improved Blood Sugar Regulation

Imbalance in blood sugar levels and insulin secretion are the main characteristics of diabetes. A certain type of sweet potato, with white skin and flesh (Caiapo), has been suggested to improve diabetic symptoms in individuals with type 2 diabetes. The Caiapo sweet potato may decrease fasting blood glucose and LDL-cholesterol levels, as well as increase insulin sensitivity.

However, the current data is considered insufficient to prove the effectiveness of sweet potatoes in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Further human research is needed.

Reduced Oxidative Damage and Cancer Risk

Oxidative damage to cells is often associated with increased risk of cancer, an adverse condition where cells grow beyond their normal boundaries and into other tissues. Diets rich in antioxidants, such as carotenoids, have been associated with lower risk of stomach, kidney and breast cancers.

Studies have shown that sweet potatoes contain potent antioxidants that may neutralize free radicals, harmful substances that can increase the risk of cancer. Purple potatoes have the highest antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity of purple sweet potatoes has been found to be 3 times higher than that of a certain variety of blueberries, but blueberries are considered extremely high in antioxidants.

Immunity and anti-inflammatory properties

“Due to the color-pigmented vitamins, sweet potatoes are high in anti-inflammatory benefits,” Flores said. One sweet potato contains about half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Vitamins A and E also support a healthy immune system and are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. While orange sweet potatoes contain more vitamin A, purple sweet potatoes are packed with the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is responsible for red, blue and purple colors in fruits and vegetables. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, pigment-related antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial to overall health and help mitigate inflammatory disorders.

Skin and hair

Vitamin A may help protect against sun damage, according to a 2004 study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, and vitamins C and E are well-known for their beauty benefits. They encourage healthy, glowing skin and collagen growth.

Digestion

According to the Cleveland Clinic, sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, which helps the body maintain a healthy digestive tract and regulates digestion.

Stress

According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, sweet potatoes contain magnesium, the go-to mineral for destressing. It promotes relaxation, calmness and a good mood, as well as artery, blood, bone, muscle and nerve health, according to Psychology Today.

Heart health

Sweet potatoes are a great source of B 6 vitamins, which are brilliant at breaking down homocysteine, a substance that contributes to the hardening of blood vessels and arteries, according to the Harvard University School of Public Health. Sweet potatoes’ potassium content is also helpful for your heart, as it lowers blood pressure by maintaining fluid balance, as explained by the American Heart Association. Potassium is also an important electrolyte that helps regulate your heartbeat.

Health risks

If eaten in moderation and prepared in a healthy way (that means not just indulging in sweet potato fries), sweet potatoes are a nutritious, delicious food that should pose no significant health risks. But for a vegetable, they are high in carbohydrates (about 23 grams per medium sweet potato) and calories (about 100 calories). For comparison, one serving of broccoli has about 45 calories.

They may also cause some interesting skin-related side effects. “While there aren’t any severe health problems associated with sweet potatoes, they are high in vitamin A, which the body stores,” Flores said. “When levels get too high, you may notice your skin and nails looking a little orange.” This side effect should decrease if you cut down on sweet potato consumption.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with a history of kidney stones may want to avoid eating too many sweet potatoes, as the vegetable contains oxalate, which contributes to the forming of calcium-oxalate kidney stones.

Fertility

For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources appears to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in sweet potatoes (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential for hormone synthesis during pregnancy and lactation.

Relieve Asthma

Sweet potatoes are effective in curing congestion of the nose, bronchi, and lungs; thereby, giving relief from asthma. The aroma of these potatoes helps in this relief.

Treat Bronchitis

Sweet potatoes are believed to be capable of warming up the body, possibly due to the sweetness and other nutrients that impact body temperature. This property is also beneficial for people suffering from bronchitis, along with its powerful effect on congestion. The concentration of vitamin C, iron, and other nutrients helps cure bronchitis.

Reduce Arthritis Pain

Beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B complex make sweet potatoes a highly important food source for managing arthritis. The water in which sweet potatoes are boiled can also be applied externally on joints to ease the associated pain of arthritis.

Treat Stomach Ulcers

Sweet potatoes have a soothing effect on the stomach and the intestines. B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and calcium are all very effective in curing stomach ulcers. Moreover, the roughage in sweet potatoes prevents constipation and the resultant acid formation, thereby reducing the chance of ulcers. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of sweet potatoes also reduce the pain and inflammation of the ulcers.

Prevent Dehydration

The fiber or roughage present in sweet potatoes helps the body retain water. This maintains water balance in the body, keeping you hydrated and your cells functioning efficiently.

Other Benefits

Sweet potatoes are effective for helping people quit addictions like smoking, drinking, and taking certain narcotics. They are good for the health of arteries and veins, as they protect their walls against hardening. The high concentration of beta-carotene (an alternative form of vitamin A) and phosphorus are excellent for both ocular and cardiac health.

How To Select And Store Sweet Potatoes

Use only high-quality sweet potatoes that are firm and display the characteristic features of their variety. Remember, the darker the variety, the higher the carotene content. Avoid wilted, leathery, or discolored sweet potatoes, especially those with a green tint. Green coloration indicates that the toxic alkaloid solanine may be present. Solanine has not only been found to impart an undesirable taste, but it can also cause a host of different health conditions, such as circulatory and respiratory depression, headaches, and diarrhea.

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, where they will keep fresh for up to ten days. They should be stored loose and not kept in a plastic bag. Keep them away from exposure to sunlight or temperatures above 60 degrees F/ 16 degrees C., since this will cause them to sprout or ferment. Uncooked sweet potatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator, as they will easily mould. Cooked sweet potatoes will keep for three to five days refrigerated.

Tips For Preparing Sweet Potatoes

If using organically grown sweet potatoes, wash them under cold running water and gently scrub with a soft vegetable brush right before cooking. If organically grown sweet potatoes are not being used, soak them in a mild solution of additive-free soap or produce wash, then either peel or scrub thoroughly with a natural bristle vegetable brush under cool running water.

Remove any deep bruises with a paring knife. If you elect to peel the sweet potato, do so with a vegetable peeler and try to remove only a thin layer of the skin to retain as much nutritional value as possible.

If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting or peeling, place them in a bowl of cold water with a little lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Also, avoid cooking potatoes in iron or aluminum pots and avoid using a carbon-steel knife to cut them, as these metals can also cause them to discolor.

Quick Serving Ideas for Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato
Sweet potato
  • Sweet potatoes can be prepared in ways similar to potatoes.
  • For a delicious hot dessert, purée cooked sweet potatoes with bananas, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Top with chopped walnuts.
  • Thinly slice sweet potatoes, then lightly coat with olive oil and your favorite seasonings. Bake the sweet potato chips at 300 degrees F/150 degrees C/gas 2 until crispy, or approximately 20 minutes.
  • Spread mashed sweet potatoes on a piece of whole-wheat bread and top with a layer of peanut butter and sliced apples.
  • Cubed sweet potatoes can be added to any vegetable stir-fry.

Sweet Potato Quick Recipe

Quick and Easy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Procedure
Prep      Cook       Ready In

10 m      20 m       30 m

  • Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
  • Transfer potatoes to a large bowl; mash butter, garlic, basil, and thyme into the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth.

How Do You Bake A Sweet Potato?

1. WASH, WASH, WASH! THEN WASH SOME MORE
Nothing ruins a good sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie like dirt! Yes, I have actually experienced that. I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at a friends house a few years ago and they made mashed sweet potato pie. The cook washed the potato quickly and microwaved it.

2. POKE HOLES INTO THE POTATO
Poking holes works! The end. I have had potatoes where no holes were poked. They turned out to be too mushy and almost inedible, while the outside remained dry and uncooked.

So, I poke holes in my potato with a fork and avoid that problem. The holes are not deep, just superficial enough to allow an escape route for the steam

3. Lightly oil the outside of the sweet potato
I cannot stress the importance of these tip. When I oil the outside of the potato, the skin doesn’t become a dry and crinkled mess. The skin remains smooth and easy to peal once the sweet potato is baked. It sounds strange, I know, but I don’t like my sweet potato to look like a giant shriveled raisin when it is done baking.

4. Cover up with a foil loosely
There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who wrap the sweet potato and those that don’t! Of the 5 tips, this one is the most controversial one. Those who think that it shouldn’t be wrapped are against it because they want to let the steam escape out of the potato and never to come back. Personally, I prefer to keep the steam contained.

When I wrap my sweet potato in foil, I wrap it loosely. So, some of the steam still escapes out of the ends of the foil. Most of the heat is contained within the sweet potato and it also cooks the outsides of the potato. This bakes the potato from the inside and the outside. Therefore, you will notice that sweet potato is baked evenly.

When the potato is not wrapped, I find that the outside gets cooked more than the inside. Also, it gives my oven a lingering sweet potato aroma for days.

5. Leave it in the Oven
The last of the 5 tips is leaving the potato in the oven after you turn it off. Bake the potato in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Depending on your oven, the bake temperature and time may vary. At about the 45 minute mark, I take a knife to it and see if it is easy to pierce the skin of the potato. If the knife goes through easily, then I turn off the oven and let the sweet potato sit in the rack.

I leave it in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes and then remove it from the oven. Quick tip: Learn from my burn scares and don’t use your bare hands to remove it.

Sweet Potato Cheese Cake

sweet potato cheese cake

Cheesecake meets sweet potato pie in a creamy dessert that’s made easily with a frozen pie crust.

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Layer

  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, not softened
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Sweet Potato Layer

  • 1 cup mashed cooked dark orange sweet potatoes (about 3/4 lb uncooked)
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

Crust

  • 1 Pillsbury™ Pet-Ritz® frozen deep dish pie crust

Topping

  • 1 cup sweetened whipped cream

Steps
1. Place cookie sheet on oven rack. Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until well blended. Add egg; beat well. Stir in orange peel. Set aside.
2. Place sweet potatoes in food processor; cover and process until smooth. In large bowl, beat sweet potato layer ingredients with wire whisk. Spread cream cheese mixture in frozen pie crust. Carefully spoon sweet potato mixture over cream cheese mixture.
3. Bake on cookie sheet 50 to 60 minutes or until set and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate until chilled, 3 to 4 hours.
4. Serve pie with sweetened whipped cream. Store covered in refrigerator.

Sweet Potato Facts

  1. Many people think yams and sweet potatoes are the same, but a true yam is a starchy, edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple.
  2. Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, vitamins E and C, iron, potassium and vitamin B 6.
  3. Sweet potato roots are harvested 90 to 120 days after transplanting.
  4. North Carolina’s official vegetable is the sweet potato.
  5. February is National Sweet Potato Month.
  6. How to store sweet potatoes: Avoid storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, which will produce a hard center and unpleasant taste. Instead, store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, well-ventilated container. For best results, store them in a basement or root cellar away from strong heat sources. Sweet potatoes can be stored for up to two weeks.

Negative Effects of Eating Sweet Potatoes

If eaten in moderation and prepared in a healthy way (that means not just indulging in sweet potato fries), sweet potatoes are a nutritious, delicious food that should pose no significant health risks. But for a vegetable, they are high in carbohydrates (about 23 grams per medium sweet potato) and calories (about 100 calories). For comparison, one serving of broccoli has about 45 calories.

They may also cause some interesting skin-related side effects. “While there aren’t any severe health problems associated with sweet potatoes, they are high in vitamin A, which the body stores,” Flores said. “When levels get too high, you may notice your skin and nails looking a little orange.” This side effect should decrease if you cut down on sweet potato consumption.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with a history of kidney stones may want to avoid eating too many sweet potatoes, as the vegetable contains oxalate, which contributes to the forming of calcium-oxalate kidney stones.

Sweet Potatoes Safety

Sweet potatoes contain high levels of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over consuming this food.

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