If you rely too heavily on regular potatoes, here's a tasty and versatile alternative: the superfood, sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are delicious all year long, but their finest season is when autumn comes. Sweet potatoes are versatile and highly nutritious, providing antioxidants, vitamins A, B6, C, fibre and minerals. They add colour and variety to your diet and support your immune system, gut health, brain function and eye health.
What are sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are starchy root vegetables and members of the morning glory family. Despite their name, they are not related to potatoes, which belong to the nightshade family. Another difference between sweet potatoes and 'normal' potatoes is that the edible portion of the sweet potato is a tuberous root, not an actual tuber. This vegetable has vibrant orange flesh and a coppery skin coat. Sweet potatoes are nutrient-rich, filling, high in fibre, and rich in an antioxidant called beta-carotene. They can be eaten boiled, steamed, baked, or fried. In some parts of North America, sweet potatoes are called yams. However, this is a misnomer since yams come from a different family.
Sweet potatoes' nutrition
Sweet potatoes are versatile and nutritious, providing a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese in each serving. They also have anti-cancer qualities and may support immune function, gut health, brain function and eye health. They’re also high in antioxidants that protect our system from oxidative stress and chronic disease.
One medium-sized sweet potato contains:
Carbs: 26 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: 0.1 gram
Fibre: 3.5 grams
Vitamin A: 102% of the daily value (DV)
Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
Sweet potatoes' benefits for hair
Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients that promote hair growth, including B vitamins, potassium, vitamin C and zinc. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene promotes cell growth and prevents hair thinning.
Sweet potatoes' benefits for the skin
Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and antioxidants. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, the primary structural protein in the skin. Vitamin C and vitamin E are essential for skin health.
Sweet potatoes' benefits for weight loss
Sweet potatoes' calorie content is 145 kcal per 100 grams, making them suitable for weight loss. Since they are high in fibre and low in calories, they make a great addition to a healthy diet. Sweet potatoes keep you full for longer, thanks to their high fibre and water content. As a result, you may consume fewer calories, which contributes to weight loss. They also contain vitamins B5 and B6, which promote a healthy metabolism. Sweet potatoes have the potential to support healthy weight management, but there are several factors to consider, such as cooking methods and condiments.
Are there any side effects?
It’s important to understand that some cooking methods, such as baking, roasting and frying, will increase sweet potatoes’ glycemic index and cause blood sugar spikes. If you have type 2 diabetes, consult your doctor about including this vegetable in your diet. Sweet potatoes are also high in oxalates, which may contribute to kidney stones – those who are prone to kidney stones should limit sweet potato consumption.
How to eat sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are great for any meal of the day, whether sweet or savoury. You can steam them, roast them, mash them, air fry them – the options are endless. From gourmet breakfasts, to hearty side dishes, this spud deserves your attention all year round.
Rather than just being faux-meat, Mamu is different. It's a mushroom-based meat alternative that's getting its launch in restaurants so that chefs can test its versatility. Flora Tsapovsky investigates.