Building a Plant-centred Pantry: Sweet Potatoes
There’s no doubt that my eyes light up immediately every single time I see the mouthwatering words ‘sweet potatoes’ printed on a menu.
The reason why I enjoy eating sweet potatoes so much is not just for that sweet and earthy taste…they’re feel good food that is good for you too. Sweet potatoes make healthy eating pleasurable, exploding with flavour and nourishment in every bite.
Sweet potato vs. yam nutrition
It’s time to get to the bottom of this: what exactly is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?
Although the terms are used interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are totally different foods!
We typically use the word yam to describe an orange sweet potato. Sweet potatoes come in creamy white, orange and even purple fleshed varieties. Typically in North America, it’s a sweet potato we’re eating. Yams are native to Asia and Africa and are more common in the Caribbean than in Canada and the US unless you’re shopping at an Asian grocer – you can spot them by their dark, bark-like and hairy skin.
Nutrition-wise, both are great choices for health, and have similar fibre, mineral and protein content but when you compare the two more closely, sweet potatoes win with about double the vitamin C and 200 times more vitamin A!
How much fibre does a sweet potato have?
Sweet potatoes contain a great amount of dietary fibre (about 7 g in 1 cup), and when combined with water, is the dynamic duo that will help you feel full and satisfied at a meal…not to mention, get those bowels moving! Women and men need 25 g and 38 g of fibre, respectively, so that 7 g contributes a whole lot of what you need in a day. Just be sure to keep the skin on to add more fibre, giving them a good scrub while rinsing and removing any bruised areas.
Sweet potato and vitamin A
By far, the most concentrated source of nutrient in sweet potatoes is vitamin A, which is great for skin and eye health. Vitamin A is key for eyesight; a study has shown that getting enough beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A found in plant foods) may decline the impairment of central vision. As we age, our eyesight worsens, so prevention especially through diet is very important.
For men and women over 19 years old, one medium dark orange sweet potato provides more than enough vitamin A to meet daily needs.
How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so versatile and options are really endless. The sweet taste plus fun and rich orange colour makes them a great vegetable to incorporate into any meal.
I love them simply roasted with avocado oil, salt and pepper in a 425 degree oven as a side dish, or filling addition to salads and grain bowls. My sweet potato cauli mash is maybe one of the best examples of healthy comfort food going! For a filling salad, try swapping in sweet potato for squash in my Shiitake Lentil Salad.
Don’t fear the carbs…load up on this nutrient-dense vegetable!