I’m a HUGE lover of the sweet potato… I even eat them for breakfast (baked topped with almond butter, put in a smoothie, juiced or done up like hash browns). Not only does it help fulfill “eating a rainbow” with its colorful hues, but it also is a powerhouse of nutrition. This vibrant orange tuber is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. The antioxidant Beta-carotene, which gives Sweet Potato its orange flesh, is necessary for your body to produce Vitamin A. We need vitamin A for eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin. One medium Sweet Potato provides 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C, several of the B vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.
Some research has shown that, as antioxidants from Sweet Potato (called cyanidins and peonidins) and other phytonutrients pass through the digestive tract, they act in ways that may lower the health risk posed by heavy metals. Scientists are also studying the anti-inflammatory nutrients (anthocyanin) contained in purple Sweet Potatoes, which may provide protection against certain types of cancer. Of note, purple sweet potatoes are equally delicious and provide a fun new color to your meal!
Sweet Potatoes also have a fascinating ability to potentially improve blood sugar regulation. Researchers are interested in determining what effect this may have on Type-2 Diabetes. High in fiber, including Sweet Potato in your diet can promote regularity of the bowels and healthy digestive function.
You can enjoy Sweet Potato as a main course, side dish, in soups, or in desserts. When shopping for these versatile veggies, remember that Yams are not the same as Sweet Potatoes. The two are not in the same “food family” and each has a different nutrient profile. Yams are usually imported from Africa or Asia, whereas the Sweet Potato is grown abundantly in the U.S. Finally, Sweet Potato color, both flesh and skin, can range from white to yellow-orange to brown or purple. There also are “firm” or “soft” varieties, which can make a difference in your cooking.
Recipe for Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes (a great Thanksgiving or any other time side dish):
3-4 full size sweet potatoes (or 2-3 lbs of the smaller variety)
1 small can chipotle peppers (available in Hispanic section of most grocery stores)
3 cloves fresh garlic*
1/2 medium red onion*
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups shredded organic sharp cheddar cheese*
water for boiling sweet potatoes
1 TBSPN olive oil or butter for sautéing
Instructions: wash, cube and boil sweet potatoes until soft (approx 20 min). During this time mince garlic, chop onion and sauté until golden brown. Drain potatoes and place in large mixing bowl. Add in sautéed onion and garlic, chipotle peppers (with sauce in can), dash of salt and pepper, and cheese if desired. Mix with electric mixer until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes, serve hot!