Sweet Potatoes Healthy Food Guide
Peak season: Fall and Winter
A veritable powerhouse of nutritional goodness, the sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato. And don’t call it a yam—it’s not even the same species! The sweet potato is a flowering perennial vine in the same family as morning glories, with delicious, starchy, tuberous roots.The Center for Science in the Public Interest calls sweet potatoes one of the most nutritious vegetables in the land. Instead of smothering sweet potatoes in butter and brown sugar, try one of these fresh ideas.
Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes
What you get
A 4-ounce serving of sweet potato (about 1/2 cup) provides 390% daily value (DV) of vitamin A, 40% DV of vitamin C, 18% DV of fiber and 13% DV of potassium, plus vitamin E, iron, magnesium and phytochemicals like beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Shopping Tips
- Choose sweet potatoes with taut, papery skins, tapered ends and uniform size, shape and color.
- The intensity of the orange color varies in different cultivars of sweet potato—darker colors are higher in beneficial carotenoids.
- Storage Tips
- Sweet potatoes will keep for 6 to 10 months in a cool, dark place. Colder temperatures can speed decay, and warmer temps will accelerate sprouting and loss of moisture.
- The flavor of sweet potatoes can actually improve with storage as some of the starch turns into sugar.
You Say Sweet Potato, I Say Yam?
Contrary to popular opinion, sweet potatoes and yams are not the same—they’re not even the same species. When orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced to the American market they were incorrectly called yams to differentiate them from more readily available, lighter-fleshed sweet potatoes. Compounding the confusion, you’ll find canned “yams” on your supermarket shelves. But they’re all sweet potatoes (“yam” is often accompanied by “sweet potato” on the label). Real yams can be found in Latin American markets, but do note that yams are not as high in vitamins A and C as sweet potatoes, though they are higher in potassium. And unlike sweet potatoes, yams must be cooked to destroy compounds that can make you ill if ingested.