Super Food: Sweet Potatoes

Yes, my favorite vegetables are orange…just like the color of my hair.

Besides carrots, I eat quite a few sweet potatoes every week and never get sick of them. I stockpile them in my cupboards after the farmer’s market. Just ask my roommates about my stash of sweet potatoes & squash.

One of the reasons I love sweet potatoes is their natural sweetness.

Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors – orange, white, and purple-fleshed – and varieties that all vary in sweetness. I always choose them over a regular, white potato, mostly because of their flavor. I’m also charmed by colorful veggies over white ones (although white veggies are not nutritionally void – potatoes, cauliflower, etc. still have tons of nutrition!).

Nutrition of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have about 7g of fiber per serving – about double a white potato – which slows down the carbohydrate influx into the bloodstream to prevent a quick spike in blood sugar. One study (using an extract from sweet potatoes) found increased adiponectin levels and improved insulin sensitivity (better blood glucose control) in people with diabetes.

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A within the body, and together with vitamins C and E, they promote skin and hair health. Sweet potatoes are one delicious beauty food! Just make sure to eat them with a source of fat to help absorption of beta-carotene and vitamin E, as these are fat-soluble vitamins.

Sweet potatoes can be a great alternative to other glucose-spiking carbohydrates at meals, such as pasta, bread, or white potatoes, and are loaded with many more nutrients than empty calorie macaroni noodles. They’re also a great way for active people to get in nutrient-dense carbohydrates, especially after intense workouts.

Storing, Cooking, & Eating

Most grocery stores only have the typical orange-fleshed sweet potato, but if you’re adventurous, search in a co-op or farmers market for other types, including the Okinawan purple sweet potato or Japanese yellow-fleshed sweet potato. Different colors indicate different antioxidants – all with unique health benefits!

They should be stored in a cool, dark, dry location, such as cupboards and not in the refrigerator, as the fridge can change the taste. If you choose to eat the skin, choose organic sweet potatoes and wash them well before.

Sweet potatoes are so versatile. I typically eat them baked, roasted as sweet potato fries, shredded as a sweet potato hash with eggs, and once a year as a sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving.

Baked sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries are perfect with grass-fed butter or coconut oil (to help absorb those beta-carotene) and sprinkled with cinnamon. I also like to shred a sweet potato in a food processor, cook it in coconut oil, and top it with eggs.

Some vegetables I eat seasonally (squash, tomatoes, etc.), but sweet potatoes are found pretty much all year round. You’ll always find a few of these tasty sweet things hiding in the back of my pantry. Just don’t overdo it on the beta-carotene, or you may end up with a slight orange tint on your hands and feet!

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