We grew up eating sweet potatoes. Mom would simply bake them in the oven, just like a regular potato. And this was when sweet potatoes were not as popular as they are today. It’s funny that I don’t recall if we had them as a side or on their own.. All I remember is that we put butter on them, watched it melt and dug in.. They were delicious! Little did I know then how much nutrition was packed into this beautiful orange-fleshed ‘potato’.
Whenever someone mentions sweet potatoes, the typical question that follows is whether or not they are the same as yams. I found out that, without going into botanical detail, they are both root vegetables but they belong to two different families (Learn more by accessing the links in Bibliography).
Here are some yams / sweet potato facts (Sweet Potatoes, 2001-2016)
- Yams are native to Africa and Asia; sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America.
- Yams have the potential to grow very large, some as large as 130 pounds (What is the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?, 2012)!
- Sweet potatoes are more readily available than yams; yams are typically found in grocery stores which specialize in international produce.
- The flesh of both yams and sweet potatoes come in different colours ranging from almost white to orange to pink and even purple.
Where I am from, I have only ever seen the common orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Let’s look at why this root vegetable is a healthy choice (Sweet Potatoes, 2001-2016):
- From beta-carotene (orange-fleshed) to anthocyanins (purple-fleshed),
packed with antioxidants
- A very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid
and vitamin B6.
- A good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2
- Contain anti-inflammatory nutrients
- Possibly aid in blood sugar regulation
The healthiest way of cooking sweet potatoes is to steam them. Boiling them for mashes and roasting them for wedges are also good for retaining their nutritional value. Adding a bit of fat will aid in better absorption of Vitamin A (Sweet Potatoes, 2001-2016) so drizzling some extra virgin olive oil over the wedges or adding it to your mash is great! Whichever way they are cooked, the health benefits of sweet potatoes are undeniable. So go ahead and enjoy some today!
Sweet Potatoes. (2001-2016). Retrieved from The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=64&tname=foodspice
What is the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams? (2012, November 23). Retrieved from Everyday Mysteries – Fun Science Facts From the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html