If you have ever been to a traditional “Thanksgiving dinner” then you must be aware of the dishes made by this starchy vegetable known as sweet potato. Sweet potato is more-or-less similar to its significant cousin; regular white potato. But, botanically they are totally different.
The white potato usually satisfies the need of carbohydrates in our body, while sweet potato is considered to be the pack of nutrients which is loaded with fibre, minerals, and vitamins. This vegetable is even more popular than we think of it. It is coined as one of the oldest discovered vegetable known to men.
According to researchers, “About 80 million tons of sweet potatoes are grown in China each year, with Africa producing about 3 million tons, followed by Tanzania, the United States, and India.”
Let’s discuss some surprising things about these tubers.
Table of contents
What Is Sweet Potato? How Is It Different From The White Potato?
Sweet potato is a popular root vegetable (tuber) known for its slightly sweet flesh. It is used in different kinds of recipes - sweet and savoury. These tubers have variously heart-shaped green to purple leaves with brownish pink skin outside and light coloured flesh inside, which varies from off-white to light orange.
Sweet potatoes are often confused with regular white potatoes because of their names and their looks but they are unrelated, while their use can be sometimes similar. Botanically, the sweet potato belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, whereas the white potato sits in the nightshade family.
White potatoes have dark skin and white-off white flesh inside, while sweet potatoes have light pink to the light purple skin outside and orange flesh inside. Both are root plants. Both white regular potatoes and sweet potatoes offer you a similar amount of calcium (good for bones) and Vitamin C.
However, sweet potatoes offer you a great amount of Vitamin A (438 per cent) which is good for the eyes, on the other hand, you get none of this type of vitamin from regular white potatoes.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts And What Makes It Healthy?
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and, due to their orange colour, are high in carotenoids," said San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores. Plus, they're fat-free, relatively low in sodium and have fewer calories than white potatoes — although they do have more sugar (maybe that’s why they are sweet) :)
Sweet potatoes are usually the source of four essential micronutrients: vitamin C, thiamin, potassium, and manganese. Besides offering a great amount of Vitamin A (438 per cent) it also is a storehouse of Vitamin C; one large intake of sweet potato offers 70% of our reference intake, which is double than the white potatoes.
And we all know that how vital is this vitamin is for our body!
7 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Including fresh vegetables and fruits in your daily diet has always proved to reduce the rate of many health diseases. Sweet potatoes have been associated to improve overall health including the improvement of the skin, eyes, and hair.
Here are some of the specific health benefits of including sweet potatoes in your lifestyle:
1. It can save your heart
Vitamin B6 that’s found within sweet potatoes helps reduces the chemical homocysteine in our bodies, which tends to increase the heart diseases.
Other vitamin and minerals like Vitamin D, potassium and magnesium also tend to protect our heart and reduce the rate of heart diseases.
2. It can improve your digestion
Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, and high fibre food has been pronounced to improve our digestive system and it also protects our stomach from gastric ulcers.
3. It can manage your diabetes
You might be thinking that how can something sweet can help a diabetic? Well, you know that the sweetness of sweet potato is natural, which are slowly released into the bloodstream which balances the sugar level in our bodies.
The leaves of sweet potatoes are also considered for managing the sugar level in our bodies.
4. It can manage your eye health
Deficiency of vitamin A causes poor vision; the cornea can become dry, leading to clouding of the front of the eye. Due to the rich Vitamin A content, Sweet potatoes are helpful in preventing our vision. Not only Vitamin A but other vitamins like C and E, and antioxidants found in sweet potatoes have also been proved to improve our eye health.
5. It prevents you from cancer
Well, no superfood can cure cancer because sometimes a diet isn’t just sufficient to cure diseases like cancer. While the antioxidants found in sweet potatoes are good to keep cancer at bay.
6. It can keep you young
The Vitamin A is considered as the anti-ageing vitamin which is also included in the anti-ageing creams. And sweet potatoes are already declared as the storehouse of Vitamin A!
The fibre and antioxidants found in it also prevent us from early ageing, protects our skin and prevents our skin from pigmentation. Then why not add it to your daily diet?
7. It can improve your immune system
Because of its high content of beta-carotene, which is a major antioxidant, along with vitamin D, potassium and fibre, in addition to iron and phosphorus, sweet potatoes can be a good immunity booster.
5 Delicious Sweet Potato Recipes
The amazing thing about sweet potato is that they are so versatile that we can do almost anything with them with an ease, they can be eaten merely by boiling for like 7-8 mins or even baked in your oven. We can bake it, boil it, mash it, make a pie and many more.
So, let’s find out some of the easiest ways to cook sweet potatoes.
1. Sweet potato fries
Just like you make white potato fries, you can make sweet potato fries, which gonna be more tasty, flavoured and above all “healthy”.
What you need to do:
- Chop 2-3 sweet potatoes into the desired shape - wedges or thin strips.
- Put the pieces into a large bowl and add 2-3 tbsp of olive/vegetable/your preferred oil into it.
- Add a teaspoon each of salt, pepper, chilli powder, ginger-garlic powder/paste and turmeric.
- Mix the ingredients well so that each sweet potato piece is coated with oil and spices.
- Slow roast/bake the pieces and serve hot.
Note: You may fry the pieces if you want a fried snack but this will kill some of the nutrients in the sweet potato.
2. Sweet potato soup
For a slightly less indulgent route to ginger and sweet potato health benefits, try this warm, Asian-inspired soup. Make it vegan by swapping out the sour cream for soy plain yoghurt.
What you need to do:
- Add 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a large pan.
- Add 1/2 a diced sweet onion to this. Stir fry till golden brown.
- Next, add 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp of grated ginger and some salt and pepper. (You may adjust the amount of garlic/ginger according to your taste.)
- After a few minutes, add sweet potato pieces (2 sweet potatoes cut into cubes).
- Cook until the sweet potatoes start getting soft.
- Add about 500 ml of water to this.
- Bring this to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add 400 ml of coconut milk (for extra flavour) and mix well. Cook for 5-10 minutes more.
- Serve with finely chopped green onions.
[You may also like Easy And Appetizing Skinny Baked Sweet Potato Chips]
3. Spicy-sweet roasted sweet potatoes
Spicy-sweet roasted sweet potatoes are coated in a spice mixture that is both sweet and spicy and then roasted in a hot oven until brown and crispy.
What you need to do:
- Add 2 finely chopped sweet onions, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp chilli powder to the bowl.
- Mix the ingredients well.
- Roast this on the flame until the potato pieces turn soft.
4. Sweet potato pie
Nothing can be more sober and delicious than a sweet potato pie. After all, that’s the best food we can say thanks within our traditional “Thanksgiving dinner”.
What you need to do:
- Boil a washed sweet potato (with the skin).
- Run cold water over the sweet potato and peel it.
- Add butter over the hot potato and mash it.
- Add 1/2 tsp nutmeg and cinnamon powder, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 100 ml milk, 2 beaten eggs and 200 gm powdered sugar to it. Mix well.
- Pour this mixture on to an unbaked pie crust and bake at 175 degrees C for 50-60 minutes.
- Test it by inserting a toothpick/fork into the pie. If it comes out clean, it's cooked.
- Allow to cool and serve.
5. Sweet potato burger
If you are a vegetarian then you must have used potato in your burger. Well, try sweet potato next time, it won’t leave you disappointed.
What you need to do:
- Boil and mash up a sweet potato.
- Flavour it with your favourite spices - salt, pepper, chilli powder, chilli flakes, garam masala, chaat masala etc.
- Mix the spices into the potato. Add cooked peas and carrots if you'd like.
- Roll up this mixture into a ball and dip in egg.
- Take a large plate and coat it with breadcrumbs.
- Roll the potato ball coated with egg on the plate.
- Flatten out the potato ball and deep fry to get your sweet potato fry.
- You can now use this to make a burger - with buns, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.