Sweet potatoes belong to the Morning Glory family. They are one of the oldest vegetables in the world. They are truly a nutritional superstar; they are rated the number one nutritious vegetable by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. There are two common types of sweet potato: dry (yellow-fleshed) and moist (orange-fleshed). The orange-fleshed potatoes are known as “yams”, which is a mistake since true yams are large root vegetables that predominantly grow in Africa and Asia.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants, which work in the body to prevent inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, gout, and many more.
- Sweet potatoes are a great source of minerals such as manganese, folate, copper, and iron. They are high in calcium, potassium and beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. 1 cup of sweet potatoes contains 65% of the minimum necessary daily amount of Vitamin C.
- Additionally, sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of 17 (the glycemic index shows the impact a certain food has on blood sugar levels); where a regular white potato charts as number 29 and they raise your blood sugar quickly by producing high numbers of insulin.
- Eating sweet potatoes can help protect you from alleviating muscle cramps which are caused by potassium deficiency. Potassium also helps to support fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, which stabilizes blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are also high in antioxidants, which help prevent inflammatory problems like arthritis, gout,asthma, and etc.
- High levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene in sweet potatoes indicate their excellent skin healing properties since beta-carotene fights the free radicals which effect skin aging.
- Sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is vital in breaking down homocysteine, a substance that helps harden the arteries and blood vessels.
- Even though sweet potatoes are available all year round, the actual season for fresh sweet potatoes is from October to January. Choose small to medium sweet potatoes. Large ones can be tough.
How to store sweet potatoes
Keep sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place. Unfortunately, when sweet potatoes begin to go bad, the damage will be reflected in the flavor of the entire potato. Their shelf life is 1 to 2 weeks.
How to prepare
Do not boil sweet potatoes; it can destroy the beneficial compounds. Baking or steaming sweet potatoes will improve the bioavailability of beta-carotene.
Make sure you eat the skin; it has the most fiber and is really good for you. Most of their healing properties reside in the skin. Additionally, consuming sweet potatoes with some amount of fat helps your body to absorb beta-carotene thoroughly. Recent research has showed that boiling or steaming sweet potatoes helps keep their glycemic index low.