Sweet potatoes are staples around the world, and for good reason. The humble sweet potato is a nutritional powerhouse! A mainstay in cuisines around the world, sweet potatoes are one of the few crops we eat that still has hundreds of varieties. In Africa, you’ll find a paler and less sweet version than an American sweet potato. Latin American sweet potatoes, or Boniatos, are white inside with a nutty flavor and fluffy texture.The sweet potato is a nutritional powerhouse! Click To Tweet
Sweet potato history
Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America, and they first travelled across the Pacific to Polynesia around the year 1,000 A.D. While Christopher Columbus is usually thought of as the global food distributor—bringing tomatoes to Italy and potatoes to Ireland—it was probably adventurous Polynesians who first made the ocean voyage to South America to pick up sweet potatoes to bring home.
Next time you feel like it’s inconvenient to eat healthy, think of how hard the Polynesians worked just for a sweet potato!
With all the talk about super foods, sweet potatoes are a low-cost option with just as many antioxidants as the trendiest of health foods.
- Want to keep your skin fresh and youthful? Eat more sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, both of which support healthy skin. Just 1 medium has 438% of your daily Vitamin A needs! Ensuring your diet has adequate amounts of Vitamin A and C can also help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Sweet potatoes are also a good source of manganese and potassium. Manganese serves as an antioxidant in the body and is also a component of many critical enzymes. Potassium is vital for so many different functions of the body, like building muscles, breaking down carbohydrates for energy, and controlling the electrical activity of the heart. These nutrients from sweet potatoes keep your body working like a well-oiled machine!
- The fiber in sweet potatoes will keep you full long after your meal. Fiber is also important to keep your digestive system healthy, and a high fiber diet can help decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Ways to enjoy sweet potatoes
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, most Americans will be cooking with sweet potatoes. But the hearty sweet potato is available all year round! So give this veggie a chance by incorporating it into your regular meals:
- Bulk up your salad by adding cubes of baked or steamed sweet potatoes
- Make baked sweet potato fries at your next BBQ
- Switch up your mashed potato recipe by using sweet potatoes instead
- Top a baked sweet potato with cinnamon, Greek yogurt and walnuts for a nourishing lunch
We use sweet potatoes regularly in our meal delivery program! Check out all of the meal delivery for cancer patients options.
Doucleff, Michaeleen. How the Sweet Potato Crossed the Pacific Way Before The Europeans Did. (2013) NPR: The Salt. Accessed on 10/21/2015 from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/01/22/169980441/how-the-sweet-potato-crossed-the-pacific-before-columbus
Doucleff, Michaeleen. Natural GMO? Sweet Potato Genetically Modified 8,000 Years Ago. (2015) NPR: Goats and Soda. Accessed on 10/21/2015 from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/05/05/404198552/natural-gmo-sweet-potato-genetically-modified-8-000-years-ago
Potassium. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed on 10/21/2015 from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002413.htm
Sung E, Astley C. A Visual Guide to Latin American and Caribbean Produce. Epicurious. Accessed on 10/21/2015 from http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguidelatinamericanproduce
Washburn, Carolyn. Sweet Potatoes: Food $ense Guide to Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. (2011) Utah State University Cooperative Extension. Accessed 10/21/2015 from http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_Food$ense_2011-04pr.pdf
Vitamin A. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed on 10/21/2015 from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002400.htm
Vitamin C. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed on 10/21/2015 from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm