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Sweet Potato Nutrition

Why Sweet Potatoes Are The Best

Sweet potatoes have always been one of my favorite foods. In the past my love was purely based on taste, texture, and ease of preparation but since I’ve started studying nutrition, I’ve discovered that sweet potatoes are also one of the world’s healthiest foods. Outlined below are just a few of the reasons you should consider making sweet potatoes a staple in your diet.

Taste and Ease of Preparation

Of course you are familiar with the Thanksgiving stand-by Sweet Potato Casserole with marshmallows. We all are. It is time to expand beyond this overly-sweet side dish and explore the many options that sweet potatoes afford in the kitchen.

The orange ( and sometimes purple! ) flesh is sweet and slightly savory with a thick, almost creamy consistency. They are delicious baked, steamed, grilled, boiled, fried, and raw.

Raw? Yes. They are not as starchy as other varieties of potato so they are crisp and crunchy raw and make a great addition to salads. I like to make a layer of them for my jar salads .

If raw is not your thing, they are a snap to make in the microwave. Really. Three steps.

1. Wash with cold water
2. Stab a bunch of holes (I use a fork)
3. Microwave for 6-8 minutes depending on the size and your microwave

That’s really it. It will come out tender and delicious.

If you’d like to use them as an ingredient in cooking rather than eat them by themselves, they work really well in tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas .

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Health Benefits

In the realm of nutritional foods, sweet potatoes are pretty much superstars. The World Health Organization lists them among the World’s Healthiest Foods and the Nutrition Action Newsletter (the Center for Science in the Public Interest ‘s publication) actually ranks them as number one in their “ What To Eat – Top 10 Foods ” publication.

When the WHO and CSPI both give a food such high praise, it is worth taking note. Let’s look at why they both love the sweet potato.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sweet potatoes have more carotenoids (like beta-carotene) than even carrots. Our bodies actually converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A which is important for vision, overall eye health, healthy skin, and maintaining mucus membranes. Beta-carotene also functions as an anti-oxidant which is helpful for disease prevention.

A medium sized sweet potato will also give you about 40% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and is beneficial in too many ways to mention. Immune health and skin health are just a couple of the things that Vitamin C does for us.

On the mineral front, sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium and manganese, both of which function as cofactors in many reactions throughout the body. Potassium plays a huge role in fluid/electrolyte balance — this is to say that it helps keeps you well hydrated and moderates your blood pressure.

Potential Blood Sugar Control

Surprisingly, sweet potatoes help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals. They have more fiber and a better than other types of potatoes but the positive blood sugar control appears to go beyond the (impressive) fiber content.

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More research is needed, but it is believed that certain compounds in sweet potatoes can increase blood levels of a hormone ( adiponcetin ) that helps regulate insulin and blood glucose levels.

The Bottom Line

Sweet potatoes are one of the world’s healthiest foods, they are inexpensive, and delicious. It is even easy to grow your own .

If you are not already eating them you should absolutely give them a chance!

Photo Credit: Steve A. Johnson

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