The Sweet Potato: Nutritional benefits and some kick-ass recipes!
Besides being a distant cousin of the regular potato (that we all love fried, mashed, or in most other forms and shapes), the sweet potato boasts plenty of nutritional benefits that can be absent in the regular potato. Labelled as a super food by many, the sweet potato is now sweeping the recipe (link 7) boards worldwide – it’s almost a trend. There are so many recipes for sweet potatoes these days that many will feel forced to try out a recipe or two. But the choices can be confusing – purple, white or orange; fleshed, mashed, fried or baked; with or without the skin? And is there really a nutritional difference between the purple and white fleshed sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colours, including pink, white, yellow, orange and purple. Of all of these colours, the spud richest in anti-inflammatory properties (most nutritional and best for your body) is the purple one, while the white fleshed sweet potato is the culprit with the least amount of nutrients and most amount of carbohydrate. If you’re looking to increase your Vitamin A consumption and are tired of carrots, the orange-fleshed sweet potato is your go-to fix. Regardless of the type of potato you choose to consume, the cooking method that any recipe calls for can also have a direct impact on your nutritional gains from the sweet potato.
According to the very famous TV Doctor, DR Mehmet Oz, consuming one cup of sweet potatoes every week can keep cancer-causing agents at bay. Sweet potatoes contain alpha carotene, which has been proven to reduce risk of death by 40%. Sweet potatoes also contain lutein and carotenoids that help to starve cancer cells in the body.
Beta Carotene and Vitamin A are both absolute essentials for boosting your immune system – and sweet potatoes contain an abundance of both these essentials. Beta Carotene is more prevalent in orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as opposed to the purple or pink ones. However, purple sweet potatoes are an awesome source of fibre (especially when you consume them with the skin on – your digestive system gains plenty of roughage that way), which is great for your digestive tract.
How to Prepare/Cook Sweet Potato
To start with, a fried potato is a fried potato. Just because a sweet potato may have higher fibre content doesn’t make it any less fatty once you’ve dipped it in a floury batter and bathed it in hot oil. Boiling sweet potatoes, or any other vegetable for that matter, releases most of their nutrients into the water unless you’re making a soup with the water. However with sweet potatoes, boiling them helps reduce blood sugar levels as opposed to roasting (although the latter is an easier option). Even though I’m armed with this knowledge, I find myself always roasting my sweet potatoes. It is also the most fuss-free method of preparing/cooking sweet potatoes; you just place it into the roasting pan with whatever herbs and spices you choose and place it in the oven for 20mins (small chunks) or 35mins to 40mins (large chunks) at a 180 Degree Celsius and you’ll have soft, tender sweet potato ready for your consumption. Not much washing up needed as well, which is always a blessing.