Food of the Week: Sweet Potato
First, let’s get this out of the way: are you confused by the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? I was too, until I read this article by The Kitchn. Check that out first if it’s been bothering you.
Now that we’ve established what a sweet potato is, let’s move on to what it’s good for!
Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, manganese, and vitamin A. They are also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, and magnesium. They are fairly low in calories, and actually contain some protein, calcium, and iron as well. That’s a pretty well-balanced food, I would say. If I had to choose only 3 foods I could eat for the rest of my life, sweet potatoes would be included!
Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, providing them with that orange color. Other foods high in beta-carotene include spinach, carrots, kale, and parsley. Beta-carotene functions as an antioxidant and is the main dietary source of vitamin A. Getting enough vitamin A is vital to having healthy skin, a functioning immune system, and great vision. Other benefits of having adequate vitamin A include reducing inflammation, promoting tissue repair, and aiding bone health.
Overall, sweet potatoes are a great food to include in your diet. A lot of websites claim that sweet potatoes are helpful in regulating blood sugar and may even aide in weight loss. I wasn’t able to find any particular studies backing these claims, though. Having a diet rich in a variety of vegetables can definitely help with diabetes and weight loss.
There are so many ways to cook and eat sweet potatoes. My favorite is to bake it in the oven, roasting it with some olive or coconut oil and tossed in spices. My boyfriend loves them boiled and mashed, just like you would a regular potato. Any way you enjoy them is fine, and the different cooking methods have their pros and cons.
If you need some ideas for how to cook your sweet potatoes and what to pair them with, visit my Pinterest page for some tasty recipes. Share your favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes and your best recipes below in the comments!
Full disclosure: I used to hate sweet potatoes (or at least I thought I didn’t like them). I’d only tried that mashed up version covered in sugar and marshmallows served at Thanksgiving, and I’m not a huge fan of it that way. In college I started trying sweet potatoes again, but in more savory ways. Sweet potato fries or tots? Um, yes! I learned that I love sweet potatoes when they’re paired with savory flavors, like paprika or garlic. It took me awhile to really say that I love eating sweet potatoes, but now I would happily eat them every other day! Be patient with yourself and keep trying to add new fruits and vegetables into your diet. It may take several times of you (or your kids!!) trying something before you enjoy it.