Sweet potatoes just remind me of the holidays. Every grandma I know has a secret recipe for a mouthwatering dish that may only show up at Thanksgiving or Christmas. My goal is to make this humble vegetable a part of your everyday diet.
What makes them so great? The bright orange color is loaded with beta carotene, potassium and vitamins just to mention a few. While they a have more grams of natural sugar than a regular potato, they actually contain more nutrients and fewer calories.
The word sweet potato and yam is often being used interchangeably but they are actually not even botanically related. Yams are almost exclusively grown in Africa and are more dry and starchy compared to a sweet potato. So how did these two vegetables become so intertwined?
There are two different varieties of sweet potatoes, firm and soft. When soft sweet potatoes were being cultivated in the Americas, immigrants mistakenly began calling them yams because of their resemblance to their familiar native vegetable. The name caught on as a way to distinguish between the two types of sweet potatoes. Today, you are unlikely to find a true yam in the grocery store unless you are shopping in an international market.
Sweet potatoes are considered low on the glycemic index scale. Recent research suggests they may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes. The fiber in sweet potatoes makes a big difference too. Studies have shown that diabetics who consume high-fiber diets may have improved blood sugar. One medium sweet potato provides about 6 grams of fiber (skin on).
One of this vegetable’s best attributes is its high potassium levels. This can help to balance out the sodium in our bodies which in turn levels out blood pressure. The high fiber content can decrease the bad cholesterol while increasing the good! All of this adds up to a healthy heart.
Last, studies have shown that beta carotene is a powerful carotenoid that is especially abundant in red, orange and yellow colored fruits and vegetables. These can help protect against free radicals that cause diseases like prostate cancer in men. Try a purple sweet potato- it has been shown to reduce the risk of colon, breast and lung cancer. Crazy, huh?
If all of this didn’t make you want to eat a sweet potato then the taste will. Savory or sweet this vegetable is on my list to eat every week!
Try our Roasted Turkey with Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans this week- I promise you will love it!
Happy Health Eating