Sweet potatoes are sweet enough – Harvard

I am a big fan of sweet potatoes. Drum roll, please. Number one on the countdown of 10 best foods from the Center for Science in the Public Interest is Sweet Potatoes. A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They’re loaded with carotenoids, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.

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Harvard School of Public Health says, that sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh, though the hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display colors such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Although they are often found on holiday tables covered in marshmallows or mixed with added sweeteners, there’s no need! True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are also one of the top sources of beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A.

Unlike a potato (edible tubers of the nightshade family), the sweet “potato” is a large edible root within the morning glory family. They’re also different from yams, which are edible tubers within the lily family and native to Africa and Asia. Chances are the “yams” found in your local supermarket are actually a variety of sweet potato. True yams are distinguishable by their blackish/brown, bark-like skin and white or purple-toned flesh.

Sweet Potatoes and Health

  • Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are richest in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant “phyto” chemicals that give vegetables their bright colors. These phytochemicals are researched for their potential role in human health and disease prevention.
  • If swapping sweet potatoes for white potatoes, you’ll still want to go easy on the portions: Though sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene, they have a high glycemic index and glycemic load—almost as high as that of a white potato. Most people don’t eat sweet potatoes in the same over-sized quantities as they do white potatoes, which is perhaps why research studies haven’t found sweet potatoes to be a major culprit for weight gain and diabetes.

Rich in:
Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene
Vitamin B6
Vitamin C
Potassium
Fiber

Did You Know?

In addition to the root, sweet potato leaves and shoots are also edible and commonly eaten in some countries.

Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes. Cooking with the skin on further helps to minimize leaching of nutrients including beta-carotene and vitamin C.

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