What is a Sweet Potato?
Although they originated from Central and South America, sweet potatoes are now considered a fundamental staple in many parts of the world. Interestingly, sweet potatoes come from an entirely different family from potatoes despite their similar names! Regular potatoes are tubers that come in shades of brown and yellow and high in calorie, protein, and carb content. Meanwhile, sweet potatoes are root vegetables full of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.
How does Sweet Potatoes Taste Like?
Sweet potatoes come in all sorts of colors, from brown, orange, purple, yellow, and red, but they all have a moist, sweetish taste, with a pleasant and aromatic smell.
Different Varieties of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes come in many different colors. The skin can be white, yellow, red, purple or brown, and the flesh can be white, yellow, orange or purple. Here's what the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission says about the two main sweet potato varieties in the US.
- the Covington Sweetpotato has a copper-colored skin, super sweet with a soft orange flesh, perfect for roasting and mashing.
- the White Sweetpotato has a golden skin with creamy white flesh, almost like a potato, but is sweet, slightly crumbly and ideal for soups and stews.
Are Sweet Potatoes Healthy?
Although most sweet potatoes have a similar vitamin and mineral content, their antioxidants and phytonutrient profile varies depending on the color of the sweet potato's flesh. For example, sweet potatoes with orange flesh are rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments that function as a source of vitamin A, with the most common carotenoids being beta carotenes (good for eye health and preventing eye disease). In contrast, purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanins, which are blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, especially flowers, fruits, and tubers. In a way, all sweet potatoes have antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity effects and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts
According to USDA, sweet potato contain fiber (3 g/100g), starch (12,6 g/100g), potassium (337 mg/100g), vitamin C (2,4 mg/100g). Sweet potato's tubers have antidiabetic, antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties due to the presence of valuable nutritional and mineral components. They also appear to be very beneficial in the diet of diabetics and consumers with insulin resistance because of their low glycemic index. Also, sweet potato has a higher amylose ratio when compared to regular potato, which raises the blood sugar levels slowly compared to simple sugars. That's why sweet potatoes are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet.
Sweet Potatoes for Maintaining Healthy Weight
One of the main ways sweet potatoes can help you lose weight is thanks to their high dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids weight loss because fiber is bulky and slow-digesting; an increased amount of dietary fiber will take up a lot of room in your stomach and keep you feeling full for an extended period of time. Because it takes a longer time for high fiber foods to leave your gut and enter your digestive tract, you feel less hunger and crave less food. It also doesn't hurt that sweet potato contains a high amount of water (68,5%). Like fiber, water takes up a lot of room in your stomach. Therefore, eating foods containing high amounts of water, such as sweet potatoes, will make you feel full and prevent overeating and snacking between meals. A study shows that meal replacement and sweet potato consumption in overweight person for eight weeks decrease 5% in body weight, body fat and body mass index.