Sweet potatoes are an incredibly healthy source of carbohydrates, and they’re one of my favorite foods. These tubers are not the same as other potatoes – they’re actually part of a completely different plant family.
Sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory family, whereas potatoes are nightshades. Additionally, sweet potatoes are often confused with yams, which are mostly grown in Africa. True yams are starchier and drier with tougher bark-like skin, while sweet potatoes have smooth, edible skin and are either firm or soft when cooked.
There are so many reasons to eat more of this sweet and tasty root vegetable. Here’s the short-list:
One medium sweet potato (which is about the same size as your iPhone) only contains about 113 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber, and it’s incredibly satiating. Eating this healthy root vegetable as a part of a well-balanced meal can help you stay fuller longer, and for fewer calories. That’s a great recipe for weight & body fat loss.
But that’s not the only reason to eat more of these tubers.
When you eat sweet potatoes, you’re getting WAY more than just carbohydrates. Here’s a glance at just some of the nutrients that one medium sweet potato provides:1
These nutrients play different roles in your body. They strengthen your immune system, skin health, and bone health. They also may improve your blood pressure and metabolism, while decreasing inflammation and your risk of lifestyle-related diseases.
Do you want more reasons to add the delicious root vegetable to your eating routine? Keep reading.
Sweet potatoes are an unrivaled food source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that’s critical for good vision and eye health. Better yet, your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.2
Vitamin A is a really important nutrient for vision and a healthy immune system. Eating sweet potatoes has been found to increase blood levels of vitamin A into healthy ranges.3
Beta-carotene is responsible for the orange color of sweet potatoes, so flesh that has a richer orange color is higher in this important antioxidant.
As mentioned earlier, sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber. Fiber helps to regulate your blood sugar while slowing digestion and keeping you satiated.
Do a self-experiment: eat a medium sweet potato, and see how it affects your hunger. You’ll probably find that it fills you up without weighing you down.
Weight loss is all about creating a calorie deficit, and managing your hunger. Eating sweet potatoes to meet your carb-needs could help you eat fewer calories overall (remember, one medium sweet potato contains a just over 100 calories), while getting the energy you need to conquer your workouts.
You’ve probably seen the sweet potatoes that have copper-colored skin and a sweet orange flesh. But did you know that there are multiple types of sweet potatoes with different colors? You can find varieties of this root vegetable that have yellow, orange, purple, or whitish flesh.
Each type varies in its flavor, texture, and nutrient concentrations. For example, the orange varieties tend to be softer and sweeter when cooked, while the yellow and purple types are usually firmer and starchier. They are all delicious, so I recommend trying different varieties to find the ones that are your favorite.
Now, you don’t have to buy organic sweet potatoes. That said, if you buy them conventional, be sure to peel off the skin because it could be covered in a dangerous fungicide.
If you buy organic sweet potatoes, I highly recommend keeping the skin on because it tends to have the highest concentration of nutrients. Just give them a good wash and scrub to remove any sand or dirt before preparing them.
Select small to medium sweet potatoes, which tend to be sweeter. And look for ones that have smooth, firm, and even-toned skin. Avoid the ones with visible cracks or bruises.
Sweet potatoes can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, mashed, blended, and fried. They can be turned into savory dishes, or sweet desserts. Here are a few delicious ideas on how to add this healthy carb to your diet:
Breakfast: Cook up some sweet potato hash with fried eggs.
Lunch: Make a sweet potato chili with ground turkey (or beans) to bring to work.
Snacks: Enjoy some homemade sweet potato fries with spicy hummus.
Dinner: Stuff a baked sweet potato with shredded grilled chicken, black beans, and avocado.
Dessert: Blend up a maple sweet potato pudding, topped with walnuts & coconut cream.
Do you enjoy sweet potatoes? How do you like to cook them?