Sweet potatoes: everything you need to know. Sweet potatoes are one of those superfoods that’s often under-appreciated. That’s because many of us wait until Thanksgiving and Christmas to put them on our dinner plates.
But they are a great potato for french fries, pierogies (dumplings), and as a baked potato that’s been topped with melting marshmallows. Or you can add some butter with cinnamon and sugar. Plain sweet potatoes work well, too.
They also happen to be very good for you, with several health benefits that you may not know about. Here’s more about sweet potatoes and everything you need to know about them. I wrote this post way back in 2014: Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes
Basic Info of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a starchy edible root that come from the dicotyledonous plant. It’s especially sweet in flavor, and even the leaves and shoots can be eaten as well.
They are believed to have originated in Central and South America and have been domesticated for thousands of years.
It is believed that they began to travel across the Pacific by European explorers, or by endogenous peoples traveling from island to island.
Fun Facts on Sweet Potatoes
A lot of people believe that a sweet potato and a yam are the same things, but in all honesty that isn’t the case. A true yam is an edible root that comes from the Dioscorea genus and is usually imported to America from the Caribbean.
Though mostly enjoyed around the holidays, the month of February is dedicated as National Sweet Potato Month.
North Carolina produces more sweet potatoes than any other state in the United States, so it’s no wonder the sweet potato is the state’s official vegetable. If you decide you want to peel them: Potato Peeler
Sweet potatoes come in a variety of different colors besides orange, ranging from white, yellow, red, and …purple. Each one contains different levels of phytonutrients and phytochemicals that provide you with a number of health benefits.
With over 400 different varieties, here’s a look at some of the most common varieties.
The stokes purple sweet potato has a skin and flesh that are both purple, and that color is maintained even after it’s been cooked. People use them to make fries, chips, and even pies. Your kids will be especially fascinated with this variety.
This Centennial variety has a dark orange interior along with a deep-red exterior. You’ll notice that it has a softer texture than many other varieties.
The oriental sweet potato has a pinkish or purple skin and a white flesh on the inside. It has a fantastic sweet flavor, some saying that it tastes like chestnut. It’s great to use for baking, grilling, or steaming.
Bunch Porto Ricos (Bush or Vineless)
This sweet potato variety has a copper skin and a flesh that’s more red. It also makes for a great baking potato.
This variety produces a high-yield, great-tasting sweet potato. It’s a deep red, almost purple skin color, with deep orange flesh.
Sweet potatoes are a superfood that comes highly nutritious, especially the purple and orange variety. However, if you are on a low-carb diet, you’ll only be able to eat them in moderation because of the carbs that are in them.
They contain a whopping 769% of your daily value of vitamin A in a single cup, and over 79% of your daily value of vitamin C. They’re a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, pantothenic acid, copper, and niacin.
Supports Healthy Vision
Sweet potatoes contain rich amounts of what is called beta-carotene. This antioxidant provides you with a number of vision benefits.
With just one single cup of sweet potatoes, there’s over 7 times more the amount of beta-carotene in them than what we need each day.
Our bodies convert this into vitamin A, which goes on to produce light-detecting receptors in our eyes.
Supports Our Immune Systems
Again, the compound beta-carotene provides our bodies with the vitamin A that it needs in order to promote a healthy immune system. It’s known to help to create and maintain a healthy mucous lining that’s on the walls of our gut.
What does our gut have to do with our immune systems, you might ask? Our gut plays a huge role in whether our immune systems stay healthy because that is where our bodies are exposed to pathogens that can cause certain types of diseases.
Promotes Gut Health
Promoting gut health may have already been mentioned, but let’s take a closer look at this benefit that sweet potatoes have.
The antioxidants and fiber that are found in sweet potatoes can help your digestive tract and soften your stool. Fiber-rich foods (like sweet potatoes) not only provide you with regularity but are also believed to lower the risk of colon cancer
Supports Brain Function
There is evidence that supports the idea that eating purple sweet potatoes may support healthy brain function.
That’s because they contain anthocyanins, that in turn, helps our brains against inflammation, as well as preventing any free radical damage.
It’s also been found that foods that contain higher levels of antioxidants may lower the risk of dementia.
Studies done with mice have resulted in improved memory and learning skills. More studies need to be done on humans to see if they have the same effects.
Contains Anti-Cancer Properties
The antioxidant anthocyanin that’s found in purple sweet potatoes, may help to protect and slow the growth of several types of cancer. There have been test tube studies done on stomach, breast, bladder, and colon cancer, where improvement was shown.
Storing Sweet Potatoes
The best way to store sweet potatoes is by finding a cool and dry area to put them. A basement or a root cellar are two options that are away from any heat sources.
Don’t put sweet potatoes in the refrigerator because the centers will harden and their taste may become compromised. Sweet potatoes can be stored for around 1 month in the cool dry place, and about 2 weeks at room temperature.
It’s probably safe to say that most of us only enjoy this superfood closer to the holidays, but with all of the nutrition that comes packed within them, we may need to revisit eating them more often.
Sweet potatoes provide us with healthier eyes and immune systems, proper brain function, along with anti-cancer properties that can slow the growth of cancer cells.
Here’s a last-minute list of recipes that pertain to sweet potatoes and the many ways in which you can enjoy them. How do you most often go about cooking and serving them?
How did you like reading about sweet potatoes: everything you need to know? Please keep prepping, we must. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Sweet Potatoes Deposit photos_40987769_s-2019, Sweet Potatoes in a basket Deposit photos_157656248_s-2019