Sweet Potatoes (2024)

The Nutrition Source

Sweet Potatoes (1)

Sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh, though the hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display colors such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Although they are often found on holiday tables covered in marshmallows or mixed with added sweeteners, there’s no need! True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are also one of the top sources of beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A.

Unlike a potato (edible tubers of the nightshade family), the sweet “potato” is a large edible root within the morning glory family. They’re also different from yams, which are edible tubers within the lily family and native to Africa and Asia. Chances are the “yams” found in your local supermarket are actually a variety of sweet potato. True yams are distinguishable by their blackish/brown, bark-like skin and white or purple-toned flesh.

Source Of

Sweet Potatoes and Health

  • Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are richest in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant “phyto” chemicals that give vegetables their bright colors. These phytochemicals are researched for their potential role in human health and disease prevention.
  • If swapping sweet potatoes for white potatoes, you’ll still want to go easy on the portions: Though sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene, they have a highglycemic index and glycemic load—almost as high as that of a white potato. Most people don’t eat sweet potatoes in the same over-sized quantities as they do white potatoes, which is perhaps why research studies haven’t found sweet potatoes to be a major culprit for weight gain and diabetes.

Sweet Potatoes (2)

Make

  1. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place. They are more perishable than you might think, so it is best to use them within a week of purchase.
  2. Before cooking, scrub the skins well as these are edible and nutritious.
  3. Pierce the potato with a fork 4-5 times, which allows steam to escape.
    • If cooking in an oven, place on a lined baking sheet in a preheated oven to 400 F. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until flesh is tender. Allow potatoes to cool a few minutes before slicing.
    • If microwaving, place on a microwave-safe dish and heat on high 8-10 minutes. Turn potatoes bottom side up halfway through cooking to ensure even heating. Allow potatoes to cool a few minutes before slicing.
  4. If boiling on the stove, peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Rinse well in a colander. Transfer potatoes to a pot and add water until cubes are completely covered. On medium-high heat, cover the pot and let potatoes simmer until tender, usually about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and season as desired.

Serve

  • Add cooked, diced sweet potatoes to soups or salads.
  • For a quick meal, slice a baked sweet potato in half and top with cooked beans, broccoli, and feta cheese or Greek yogurt.
  • For mashed sweet potatoes: Use a fork, masher, or blender to puree the cooked potatoes. Add liquid such as water, broth, or milk if a smoother consistency is desired. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, spices, or herbs as desired.
  • Sweet Potatoes (3)For roasted sweet potato wedges: Wash and cut a medium sweet potato into wedges. Coat with olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and herbs or spices if desired. Bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes or until the insides are tender and the outsides are crisp.

More recipe ideas and serving suggestions featuring sweet potatoes:

Did You Know?

  • In addition to the root, sweet potato leaves and shoots are also edible and commonly eaten in some countries.
  • Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes. Cooking with the skin on further helps to minimize leaching of nutrients including beta-carotene and vitamin C.

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Sweet Potatoes (2024)

FAQs

How much sweet potato is enough? ›

Pro-vitamin A.

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A. Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of this vegetable provides the recommended daily amount of this vitamin.

What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes Yahoo Answers? ›

While both yams and sweet potatoes are root vegetables, the taste of each is entirely unique. The orange-fleshed sweet potatoes tend to be much sweeter and creamier in texture compared to yams which have a white flesh that's starchier and more similar to a white potato.

What are 3 interesting facts about sweet potatoes? ›

Native Americans were already growing sweet potatoes when Columbus arrived on America's shores in 1492. The sweet potato is not a potato, not even a distant cousin. Potatoes are tubers; sweet potatoes are roots. Sweet potatoes have been growing in the South since as early as 1648.

Is sweet potato ok to eat every day? ›

If you enjoy sweet potatoes, you can absolutely enjoy them daily. However, eating multiple sweet potatoes every day could cause a harmless condition called carotenodermia, where your skin turns yellow-orange. You may also want to be cautious about your sweet potato intake if you have a history of kidney stones.

Does sweet potato count as 1 of your 5 a day? ›

Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count towards your 5 A Day because they're usually eaten in addition to the starchy food part of the meal. Potatoes play an important role in your diet, even if they don't count towards your 5 A Day. It's best to eat them without any added salt or fat.

Is sweet potato a carb or protein? ›

‌Sweet potatoes have a lot of carbohydrates. One 5-inch sweet potato has about 26 grams of carbohydrates. In a low-carb diet, one sweet potato has half of the calories from carbohydrates that you may be allowed. But that's still less than the carb content of a white potato: 35 grams, on average.

How much of sweet potato is for 1 person? ›

Peel and season with butter and salt to taste. Use 1 medium sweet potato per person. Boiled sweet potatoes can be used for pies, cookies, casseroles, glazed, candied or frozen.

Is it possible to eat too much sweet potatoes? ›

Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, and their excessive consumption can lead to hypervitaminosis A (vitamin A toxicity), in which excess vitamin A accumulates in the liver. Although it is not considered harmful, the color of the skin and nails may turn orange. Additionally, sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates.

What is the healthiest way to eat a sweet potato? ›

Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and makes the nutrient more absorbable than other cooking methods such as baking or frying. Up to 92% of the nutrient can be retained by limiting the cook time, such as boiling in a pot with a tightly covered lid for 20 minutes.

When not to eat sweet potatoes? ›

How to tell if sweet potatoes have gone bad. If your sweet potato is soft in spots, smells rotten, or oozes a mysterious liquid, that potato should be discarded. Another sign that sweet potatoes have taken a turn for the worse is if they start growing stalky purplish sprouts.

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