Despite its name, the sweet potato really doesn’t belong to the same family as the potato, not even close. Potatoes are tubers, sweet potatoes are roots.
In some countries, yams are called mistakenly the darker colored sweet potatoes. (Yams are often whitish to purplish color, depending on the variety. They have a hardy texture, distinct earthy taste, and are hardly sweet.)
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes with flesh ranging from white, yellow, orange and purple. Even the shapes and sizes range from being short and blocky to long and thin.
Especially the deeper-colored sweet potatoes are extremely rich in carotenes (precursor of vitamin A). They are also an excellent source of vitamins C, B2, B6, E and biotin (B7).
They provide good amounts of necessary folate, copper, manganese, and iron. It is also rich in dietary fiber and has pantothenic acid.
Sweet potatoes has very low calories and are an excellent sources of plant proteins. Compare to many other starchy root vegetables, they are very low in sugar, and they can be called a good blood sugar regulator. It has twice the calcium, the fiber and compares with white potato has over 1000x more vitamin A (beta-carotene). It is excellent anti-inflammatory food. More health benefits:
Antioxidants: Sweet potatoes are suitable in combating inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, gout, etc due to the high amount of antioxidants they contain.
Diabetes: This fibrous root is a very good blood sugar regulator and it is suitable for diabetics’ consumption as it helps to stabilize and lower insulin resistance.
Digestive tract, healthy: When eaten with the skin, they contain a significant amount of dietary fiber, especially helps to relieve constipation, promote a healthy digestive tract, and also helps prevent colon cancer.
Emphysema: People who inhale second-hand smoke or smokers should regularly consume foods high in vitamin A. Smoke has been found to cause a host of other health problems to the lungs due to inducing vitamin A deficiency.
Fetal development: Important and necessary for healthy tissue development and the fetal cell is the high folate content.
Immune system: Regular consumption of sweet potatoes strengthens the body’s immune system and develops resistance to infection.
Heart diseases: The high potassium in this root helps to prevent stroke and heart attack and its consumption is recommended. It helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body cells, as well as normal heart function and blood pressure.
Muscle cramps: A deficiency in potassium can cause muscular cramps and greater susceptibility to injury. If you exercise a lot, add sweet potatoes to your regular diet to prevent cramps and injuries and for an energy boost.
Stress: Our metabolic rate rises, especially when we are stressed, causing the body potassium levels to be reduced. It helps to normalize the heartbeat and to rebalance the vital mineral and helps just by snacking on the potassium-packed sweet potato. This, in turn, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates the body’s water balance.
Choose the darker variety if available of sweet potatoes when buying. The darker it is the higher the carotene content.
Choose sweet potatoes that are not wrinkled and firm. A toxic substance called solanine indicates the presence of those that have a green discoloration and it should be avoided.
Store sweet potatoes in the open, in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, not wrapped up in plastic bags, and not in the refrigerator. They can keep up to ten days.
Sweet potatoes can be prepared in ways similar to regular potatoes. Try not to peel off the skin, because it contains the most nutrition. Just use a vegetable brush to give it a good scrub. Try steaming it, cool it, and run it through your food processor to make a nutritious smoothie, mixing with yogurt, honey, and flaxseed oil.
Surprisingly, cooking sweet potatoes by steaming, baking and boiling make the nutrients more available to the body.