Published: 12/23/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
This climbing plant known as the sweet potato produces a root that contains very beneficial starches and sugars for the body, along with other nutrients. Sweet potatoes (pomoea batatus) are tubers and look like elongated potatoes. They are brownish-reddish in color (depending on the variety) and are generally considered to be a sweet treat in Mexico and other countries.
There is a large variety of sweet potatoes, however the most common kind is long and bulbous, with a smooth skin that is brown, red, or even purple. The meat in sweet potatoes is copper, yellow, or purple in color. It is not juice but rather has a thick and dry consistency. It may have a lighter color in some varieties, and could also be sweeter and moister in the more copper or orange colored varieties.
Sweet potato properties:
- Rich in dietary fiber, which helps maintain the stomach in good conditions.
- Very high betacarotene content, which is the precursor to vitamin A. This helps nourish hair, skin and eyes.
- Rich in vitamin C.
- Contains vitamin B6.
- Its high sugar content makes it a perfect food for providing energy for those that perform physical and intellectual work.
- Used in weight loss diets.
- Has very constructive vegetable proteins.
- Rich in riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc.
- Helps fight and prevent stomach cancer.
- Slows aging as it contains antioxidants.
- Good way to protect the liver.
- Yellow sweet potato is one of the richest foods in betacarotenes (provitamin A), which is why it has been used to fight malnutrition in some countries, and helps prevent blindness, skin and eye problems, as well as infectious diseases.
- This same variety is rich in potassium and iron.
- Recommended in children’s diets due to its high vitamin and protein content. Much more nutritious than the potato, and it turns out to be an excellent treat.
Ways to use sweet potatoes in the kitchen
Sweet potato plants can be used animal fodder, but the part most used by man is the root, which can be used in the kitchen due to its fantastic versatility. It can be used both in sweet as well as salty dishes, and is used especially in Japanese, Peruvian, Mexican and New Guinea cooking.
How are sweet potatoes eaten?
You can prepare sweet potatoes several different ways, either cooked with jam or some other sweet dressing. It makes a high quality and nourishing dessert for children. You could also fry thin sweet potato slices to make chips. You could bake them with butter and make a puree with brown sugar or fruit jam, or you could use it to accompany ceviche if you add salt instead of sugar. It is a wonderful food for small children, for which you could make preserves, and it can nourish the sick and elderly.
About sweet potatoes
This creeper does not require a lot of care, it can even be sewn in fairly infertile soil, hot or tropical areas. It is perennial, which is why it can remain productive indefinitely. Sweet potatoes should be harvested before the first freeze of the year because the plant does not resist the cold.
Sweet potatoes are believed to be native to the tropical jungles of Central and South America over 5,000 years ago. Today they continue to be part of the traditional diet in american countries, although it is now consumed in China and several African countries. China is even the largest producing country of sweet potatoes; China cultivates more than 100 varieties and produces approximately 80% of the world’s sweet potatoes.
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