Here’s an interesting fact: one medium sweet potato provides 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C, several of the B vitamins, plus the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. That’s one powerful potato!
But that’s not all…
Sweet potato is also abundant in antioxidants, which help protect against inflammation and play a role in blood sugar regulation. The antioxidant Beta-carotene, which gives sweet potatoes their orange flesh, is necessary for the body to produce Vitamin A. We need Vitamin A for eye health, a strong immune system, and healthy skin. Research indicates that this tuber’s anti-inflammatory nutrients (anthocyanin) can be instrumental in protecting against the cellular damage and degeneration that occurs with age, particularly related to vision (e.g., macular degeneration) and the circulatory system.
Sweet potato color, both flesh and skin, can range from white to yellow-orange to brown or purple. There also are “firm” or “soft” varieties. Just remember, yams are not the same as sweet potatoes. The two are not even in the same “food family.” Sweet potatoes are harvested in the United States whereas yams are typically imported from Africa or Asia. Check your grocer’s labels and, if you aren’t sure, ask a store associate for assistance.
- Shekhar, S., et al. “Comparative analysis of phytochemicals and nutrient availability in two contrasting cultivars of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.).” Food Chem.(2015) Apr 15;173:957-65. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.09.172. Epub 2014 Oct 30. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814614017014
- Mohanraj, R and Sivasankar.S “Sweet Potato: A Valuable Medicinal Food.” Journal of Medicinal Food. July 2014, 17(7): 733-741. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.2818. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2013.2818
- World’s Healthiest Foods: Sweet Potato http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64
- Library of Congress Everyday Mysteries: Sweet Potato or Yam? https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html