Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato… Oh how we love you Sweet Potato!
By: Ashley Vangel
It’s just like in that Marvin Gaye song, how sweet it is to be… eating a sweet potato!
Okay, okay… those aren’t his exact words in the song, but they definitely could be! Sweet potatoes are in fact sweet when they’re cooked, but did you know they also offer SO many health benefits? It’s true. Those bad boys aren’t just glorified orange-colored potatoes. In fact, you can actually consider them as a superfood since they’re packed with tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants! They’re actually among the healthiest and cheapest foods with one of the highest nutrient-rich food scores per dollar.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), which plays a vital role in bone growth, reproduction and immune system health. Just like with carrots, sweet potatoes get their orange color naturally because of this vitamin. In fact, they have over 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A in just one medium spud… now that’s a lot of vitamins! Sweet potatoes also provide one of the top whole food sources of potassium. Potassium is an essential nutrient, meaning our bodies need it for daily function, like regulating your heartbeat. Most people think of bananas when potassium is brought up, but that’s just marketing… bananas don’t even make the list for the top-thousand foods with the highest levels of potassium!
Sweet potatoes also offer loads of antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect your body’s cells from the damaging effects of free radicals (or “the bad guys” that cause sickness). In general, the more colorful the food (think fruits and veggies), the more antioxidant powers the food will offer ya! Fun fact: regardless of your cooking method, whether you’re baking, boiling or roasting, be sure to hang on to those potato skins. The peel of the sweet potato has about ten times as much antioxidant power as the orange flesh of the potato. Imagine that?
Do you need a little extra help getting more fiber into your diet? Look no further because sweet potatoes are what you’ve been waiting for. Sweet potatoes have about 4 grams of fiber per serving. Increasing your daily intake of fiber not only helps keep you regular, but it also slows digestion and can help with weight management.
Sweet potatoes can be found in your local markets year-round, so be sure to add these wonderful naturally sweet vegetables to your meals throughout the year!
Need some Sweet Potato recipe inspiration? Try Stretching out these Recipes
Ashley is a registered dietitian and a licensed dietitian in the state of Texas. She graduated from Framingham State University, majoring in nutrition and dietetics and she completed her dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut. (more)