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Sweet Potato: Nutrition And Recipes

We go over this tuber’s nutrition and provide you with a baked sweet potato recipe to try yourself.
Sweet potato is a nutritious tuber that's easy to incorporate in the diet.

Mashed and baked sweet potatoes are ideal for those with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome. This tuber is one of the most nutritious vegetables out there since it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are essential for the body's proper function.

In this article, we'll provide you with further information on the benefits of sweet potato. We'll discuss the specific characteristics of this tuber and its benefits, and then we'll share a simple baked sweet potato recipe with you that you can try to make yourself.

Sweet potato characteristics

The sweet potato, a member of the Convolvulaceae family, is a plant known for its edible tuberous root. Its scientific name is Ipomoea batatas, which is a perennial vine. If it has flowers, there are few, but they are stunning; some are pink or blue on the inside and white on the outer edges. Although they're uncommon, the fruit the plant produces is not edible.

The roots are the edible part of this plant and its orangish color sets it apart from other potato varieties. This tuber dates back to more than 8,000 years ago when it first appeared in Central and South America. Currently, this type of potato is usually grown in tropical and subtropical regions although it has been consumed worldwide since Christopher Columbus brought plants such as these back with him to the European continent.

Generally speaking, this vegetable is highly nutritious and easy to grow. Regarding the cultivation process, this plant is a herbaceous vine that thrives in warm climates (20-26º) where there is deep soil and humidity, as is the case in tropical regions. This tuber grows well with other plants like onion and yucca that have similar needs in this respect.

The sweet potato has a strong presence in Latin American cuisine where it is used as an ingredient in desserts, stews, as chips, in soups, or served as a side dish with Peruvian ceviche.

Whether it's fried, boiled, or baked, this vegetable is prized for its flavor and nutritional value. Purple sweet potato is also made into a juice which is an excellent antioxidant. Interestingly enough, the roots of this plant are consumed in a fermented state as well.

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows is a Thanksgiving favorite in the U.S. and generally speaking, this vegetable tends to be consumed more in the winter months worldwide. There are also some marzipan recipes that use this tuber as an ingredient. Purple, white, and orange are the most common varieties of this plant.

This potato can be baked or boiled, made into flour, or even used to make a product known as Brazilian arrowroot. Also, on occasion, it is fermented in alcohol.

Benefits

Sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, beta-carotene, and fiber, and contain up to 5% protein. Even so, you need to consume other foods to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Eating a variety of foods helps the body to digest proteins and ensures a balance of essential amino acids.

Nutritionally speaking, sweet potato is more complete than regular potatoes due to its elevated beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) content. However, it contains a relatively low amount of protein.

1. A powerful antioxidant

Beta-carotene is the nutrient that makes this vegetable a powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent the following health conditions:

  • Cataracts

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Certain types of cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

Besides, this vegetable aids blood coagulation and helps joints and bones to form correctly. The agglutination component that it contains can get rid of the environmental contaminants that enter the body. The anthocyanin present in the purple variety is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that fights issues such a asthma, arthritis, or even digestive problems.

2. Benefits cardiovascular health

Regularly consuming this vegetable can help to address health conditions like high blood pressure, poor circulation, and obesity in general. Regarding weight loss, sweet potato is a great bread substitute at meal time and is just as satisfying, yet much healthier, more nutritious, and low-fat.

Its beta-carotene content keeps our veins and arteries in good shape, while this tuber's potassium tends to the heart muscle's health.

3. Rich in vitamins and minerals

This potato variety contains high levels of starch, fiber, and minerals like calcium, zinc, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and is particularly rich in potassium. As far as its vitamin content, it contains a broad spectrum of vitamin B nutrients like riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, thiamine, and folic acid. Besides, it contains vitamins C and E and contains high levels of vitamin A (retinol).

4. Rich in soluble fiber

Sweet potato's high fiber content makes it an excellent food to eat if you want to improve your intestinal transit. This nutrient also helps to fight constipation. Likewise, eating this veggie can benefit your digestive health in the following ways:

  • Promotes intestinal transit

  • Helps to prevent colon cancer

  • Satisfies hunger

  • Regulates glucose levels in the blood

Besides, this tuber improves digestive health and is healthiest if consumed in its baked or boiled form.

5. Ideal food during pregnancy

Sweet potato is rich in folic acid which pregnant women are encouraged to consume more of throughout the gestation period. Also known as vitamin B9, this nutrient can help to reduce the chances of birth defects in the fetus related to the neural tube.

 
You can make your own sweet potato chips by slicing and then baking this vegetable in the oven. | ,

 

Baked sweet potato recipe

Baking sweet potatoes in the oven is quick and easy. However, there are a few suggestions that should aid in this process, particularly, the temperature should be set at around 200º C, although this varies depending on the size and number of potatoes. Below, we'll teach you how to bake sweet potatoes in 4 easy steps.

1. Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 medium sized sweet potatoes

  • baking parchment or aluminum foil

2. Preheat the oven

Just like baking any other food, to bake sweet potato, first, you have to preheat the oven to 200º with both top and bottom heat, as mentioned before, for about 7 minutes.

While you wait for the oven to preheat, take the time wash these tubers properly. Make sure that you remove any dirt stuck to the skin and dry them off.

3. Bake well

Once dry, place these vegetables on a baking sheet previously covered with a piece of baking parchment or aluminum foil. Then, put it in the oven until they're ready (this could take longer depending on the size).

If they all weigh between 250-300 grams, it should take about 50 minutes for them to cook. However, if these veggies weigh in at more than 500 grams, then these potatoes will need at least an hour and a half in the oven.

4. Take them out, it's time to eat!

Once you take these tubers out of the oven, you need to make sure they are totally cooked. You can find out by poking them with a toothpick. If you can easily poke the sweet potato with a toothpick and it comes out clean, then you'll know it's ready to eat. After you take them out of the oven, let these vegetables cool down a bit so that you don't get burnt...and voila! Now you can try delicious oven-baked sweet potatoes!

References

Sweet Potato. (2004). In K. L. Lerner & B. W. Lerner (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Science (3rd ed., Vol. 6, pp. 3932-3933). Detroit: Gale.

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