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Vital Vittle of the Week: Sweet Potatoes

Posted Feb 03 2009 12:46am

The Vital Vittle

By Maureen Lauder

Food of the Week:  Sweet Potatoes

Ah, the sweet potato! King of comfort foods!  In addition to being sweet and tasty, sweet potatoes are–you guessed it-healthy, healthy, healthy.  Here are five reasons why:

1) Sweet potatoes are a tremendous source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which are antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals from the body. whole and halved sweet potatoes

2) Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, which can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

3) The vitamin A in sweet potatoes (and there’s a lot of vitamin A in there!) may help improve lung health.  Studies have shown that one of the carcinogens in cigarette smoke induces a vitamin A deficiency.   Foods rich in vitamin A can help counteract this.

4) Vitamins A and C have anti-inflammatory properties and can thus help reduce the symptoms of conditions like asthma and arthritis.

5) Sweet potatoes are good sources of important minerals, including manganese, copper, potassium, and iron.  They’re also high in fiber!

I Yam What I Yam

In North America, we tend to falsely distinguish between sweet potatoes and yams.  The vegetable that we often call a yam, however, is simply another variety of sweet potato.   Sweet potatoes can vary in size and shape, and their flesh ranges from white to yellow to orange.

True yams and sweet potatoes are only distantly related.  Sweet potatoes are native to the Americas and have been a staple in this hemisphere for thousands of years.  Yams, which are native to Africa, are much less sweet and taste distinctly different.

Sweet Potato Goodies

Sweet potatoes make a good base for salads, soups, and puddings.

Try out Tera’s Sweet Potato Dream Pudding: a grated sweet potato, a dash of vanilla, a little cinnamon, 2 T of coconut butter, and some raisins or dates, all blended smooth.

Or quell your potato chip cravings with dehydrated sweet potato chips:  Slice the potatoes as thin as you can (a spiral slicer or mandoline works best), brush on some oil and/or lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt, cayenne pepper, or any other seasoning that sounds good.  Dehydrate until crispy.

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