Sweet potato is one of the oldest vegetables consumed to this day, believed to be in consumption more than 5000 years ago. In fact, sweet potato artifacts have been seen in Peruvian caves dating back more than 8000 B.C and serve as the best proof of their consumption even in prehistoric times. Sweet potatoes have been an great part of the diet in the United States for most of its history, particularly in the Southeast, however this nourishing tuber has lately become less popular on the plates of most Americans sometimes only served at Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.
There are hundreds of kinds of this root vegetable, with the flesh ranging from white, yellow, orange, red and even purple in color and the thin skin either being white, yellow, orange, red or purple.
The fresh leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Sweet potato leaves and shoots are a good source of vitamins A, C, Although the leaves and shoots are digestable, it is the starchy tuberous roots that are by far the most sought after product.
Sweet potato is ranked the highest in nutritional value when compared to other vegetables.
Below is the nutrients found in 100 grams of sweet potato:
Carbohydrates – 20.1 gm
Sugars – 4.2 gm
Dietary fiber – 3.0 gm
Fat – 0.1 gm
Protein – 1.6 gm
Vitamin A – 709 µg
Beta-carotene – 8509 µg more than 250% of your daily requirements
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) – 0.1 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – 0.1 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3) – 0.61 mg
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) – 0.8 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.2 mg
Folate (Vitamin B9) – 11 µg
Vitamin C – 2.4 mg
Calcium – 30.0 mg
Iron – 0.6 mg
Magnesium – 25.0 mg
Phosphorus – 47.0 mg
Potassium – 337 mg
Zinc – 0.3 mg
Sweet potato Calories – 90 kcal (360 kJ)
A frequent diet of sweet potato can lower the risk of constipation, diverticulosis and colon and rectal cancer. Several researches have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to increase vitamin A levels in our blood . Sweet potatoes provides over 8,800 IU of vitamin A or about twice the recommended daily allowance enough to more than satisfy our vitamin A needs.
It’s essential to have some fat with your sweet potato meal. Past research has shown that a minimal amount of 3 to 5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of Beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato also contains cyanidins and peonidins and other associated phytonutrients which has purported antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects which may protect cells from oxidative damage and reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. That risk reduction is important not only for individuals who are at risk of digestive tract problems like irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis but for all persons wanting to reduce the potential risk posed by oxygen radicals. You will find that the purple flesh variety of sweet potatoes contain higher amount of the phytonutrients mention previously.
Sweet potato is perfect for the health conscious consumer. Sweet potato blends well with herbs, spices and flavorings creating healthy delightful dishes of all types. From processed baby foods to main dishes, casseroles, salads, breads, desserts, and pet food, sweet potatoes add precious appetising nutrients and color to any meal.
Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes
Recipe for Sweet Potato Spread
2 medium sweet potatoes 300grams or 1/2 lbs
1 medium onion, minced
1 Tbs. Tahini or unsalted almond butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon curry
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Cook potatoes in a saucepan, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife.
3. Remove from saucepan. When cool, remove skin.
4. While potatoes are cooking, peel carrot and onion, and chop into small pieces.
5. Place chopped carrot and onion into another saucepan and cover with 1/2 cup of water.
6. Simmer carrots and onions until soft
7. Puree sweet potato in a food processor with Tahini or Almond butter, Curry powder, and ground Cumin until combined.
8. Add carrot-onion mixture and puree until smooth.
Serve with crackers or toast.
Did you know George Washington Carver identified 118 ways in which we can use sweet potatoes? Here are some other easy healthy sweet potato recipes.
Sweet Potato Muffins with out Eggs
1 cup finely shredded sweet potato
1 1/4 cup oats
1/3 cups wheat germ or flour
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated coconut
3/4 tsp sea salt
Mix all dry ingredients into a potato oats mixture. Add water, oil and stir well. Shape into small muffins, heaped up on top. Bake at 350 for 30 – 40 minutes until golden brown.
Healthy Sweet Potato Bread Recipe
4 cups flour (part white part whole wheat)
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 cups mashed sweet potato or 3/4 cup sweet potato flour
1 Tbsp Yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup oil or 2 tablespoonful softened butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp sea salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar. Add oil, seasoned potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add half flour and beat well. Then add the rest of the flour a little at a time for a good bread dough and knead until smooth. Set aside to rise then push down into loaves and put in bread pan to rise. Bake at 375 for 75 minutes.
Seasoning the Potatoes :- Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract to the sweet potato and blend in thoroughly.