The Power of the Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato 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. 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 are also are firm or soft varieties, which can make a difference in your cooking.

Food_Sweet_Potato
Good Old Fashioned Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are a perfect food not only for your holiday meals, they also make for a tasty snack or to accompany a hearty soup or salad at lunchtime.

Ingredients
4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
Coconut oil for brushing
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Butter to taste

Preparation Instructions
Heat oven to 450 degrees

Brush potatoes with coconut oil and place potatoes in a glass cooking dish with lid.
Cover and cook in hot oven for 40 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
Remove from oven and serve hot.
Season with salt, pepper and butter to taste.

Photo credit: tashka2000/bigstockphoto.com

References:
Xu,J. et al. ìCharacterisation and stability of anthocyanins in purple-fleshed sweet potato P40. Food Chem. (2015) Nov 1;186:90-6. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.08.123. Epub 2014 Sep 16.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881461401348X

Shekhar, S., et al. Comparative analysis of phytochemicals and nutrient availability in two contrasting cultivars of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) Food Chem. (2015) Apr 15;173:957-65. doi: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881461401701410.1016/j.foodchem.2014.09.172. Epub 2014 Oct 30

Mohanraj, R and Sivasankar.S Sweet Potato: A Valuable Medicinal Foodî. Journal of Medicinal Food. July 2014, 17(7): 733-741. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.2818.
http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2013.2818

USDA Nutrient info for Sweet Potato (raw and various cooking methods)
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&sort=&qlookup=sweet+potato&offset=&format=Abridged&new=&measureby=

World’s Healthiest Foods: Sweet Potato http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

Varieties of Sweet Potato http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodtip&dbid=41

Difference Between Sweet Potato and Yam http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potatoes-101/difference-between-yam-and-sweet-potato/

Library of Congress Everyday Mysteries: Sweet Potato or Yam? https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html

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