Perhaps the most nutritious vegetable on the planet, the sweet potato tops the charts of numerous studies ranking vegetables by nutrient content. Yes, the sweet potato ranks higher than broccoli, carrots and spinach.
Include sweet potatoes in your diet year-round as a great source of fiber, Vitamin A Vitamin C, and potassium. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes can reduce risk of cancers, especially colon and lung, decrease cholesterol, reduce risk of stroke and heart disease, and may improve the effectiveness of the immune system.
Sweet potatoes are often called “yams”; and are sold as yams in stores. However, the two are actually different vegetables. True yams are imported in the U.S. from the Caribbean on a very limited basis. A yam has white to yellow flesh. Sweet potatoes are native to North America and have a vivid orange color and sweet, moist flesh.
At the market
Look for firm sweet potatoes without bruises or blemishes in the skin. Small and medium sized sweet potatoes will have more flavor than larger varieties. Remember a sweet potato and a yam are two completely different vegetables, one is yellow and the other is orange.
Sweet potatoes are more fragile than they look so eat them within one week of buying them. Store sweet potatoes in a dry, dark cupboard. Do not refrigerate.
Don’t wait for Thanksgiving, include sweet potatoes in weekly menus. Skip the marshmallows and brown sugar and experiment with some new recipes. Not only is the sweet potato one of the healthiest foods you can eat, they taste delicious and are extremely versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked – baked, roasted, mashed, pureed or cubed. Leave the skins on for added fiber. They are a great side dish to fish, meats, and grains, and make wonderful desserts such as pies, cakes and breads.
Quick tips for packing more sweet potato punch into your diet
- Add mashed or pureed sweet potato to your favorite pancake mix.
- Blend cooked sweet potato into a breakfast smoothie.
- Add peeled sweet potato chunks to your favorite stew.
- Add raw, grated sweet potato to your salad.
- Peel and cut sweet potato into strips and serve with your favorite dip.
- Mix sweet potatoes and white potatoes when making mashed potatoes.
- Substitute sweet potatoes in any recipe calling for white potatoes or apples.