A primary source of nourishment for native Americans, early
European colonists and soldiers during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars,
sweet potatoes later were relegated to holiday tables, served as a complement
to Thanksgiving turkey or holiday roast.
Today, sweet potatoes are making a comeback: orange-fleshed
mashes, fries and tots are commonly found on restaurant menus and in the
frozen-food aisle at grocery stores. Though fried potatoes of any color should
be eaten sparingly, baked or boiled sweet potatoes offer exceptional health
Considered one of the healthiest vegetables of all, sweet
potatoes are the root of a tropical vine in the morning- glory family. Brimming
with beta-carotene, fiber and vitamins A (five times the recommended daily
intake), C and E, they’re a good choice when it comes to adding cancer-fighting
nutrients to your diet and improving digestive health. Compared to white (also
called Irish) potatoes, they have more vitamins, more fiber, fewer calories and
fewer total carbs—despite having more sugar. They’re also fat-free.
Buy | Store | Serve
When shopping, choose sweet potatoes that are firm and
smooth, without bruises or discoloration. Store them unwashed in a cool, dry
place and use within three to five weeks. Sweetness increases during storage.
Don’t refrigerate—the cold turns the potato’s natural sugars to starch. Like
white potatoes, sweet potatoes can be baked, grilled, boiled or microwaved.
Lightly season with salt and pepper or highlight their sweet
side by sprinkling with brown sugar and cinnamon. For healthy potato chips,
slice thinly, brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes at 350
degrees (or until lightly browned and crisp). Try adding thinly sliced, cooked
sweet potato to your sandwich, or pop sweet-potato slices on the grill until
browned to your liking, then drizzle with lime juice. And of course, you can
mash them. You can even try them raw by shredding onto a salad.
Did You Know?
Sweet potatoes and yams are two different vegetables, with
sweet potatoes offering more nutritional benefits and being more widely available
in the U.S.