Sweet potatoes are in peak season during October to March so they are an ideal Autumn vegetable and very fitting in colour for Halloween month. Did you know that sweet potatoes aren’t just orange? There can be white or cream-colour flesh varieties as well as yellow, red and purple. The most common varieties we see in supermarkets with the pink skin and bright orange pulp are called “Covington” (3).
Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be a great carbohydrate to help you achieve your health and fitness goals and can add variety and colour to your plate. The sweet potato can give you a steady slow burn of energy and help you feel fuller for longer (6).
Sweet potatoes are a delicious food that is versatile and has a high nutritional value. The sweet potato can be used as a medical plant due to its activities (1). Sweet potatoes are rich in the antioxidant carotenoids which may help to protect against certain types of cancers (2,3). Purple sweet potatoes in particular might lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer from a compound called anthocyanin (3).
When sweet potatoes are boiled they are low in glycemic index which means they won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly as other foods that are high in glycaemic index, helping to control your blood sugar (3).
The plant pigments in sweet potatoes that offer the bright orange of the sweet potato supply the vegetable with rich antioxidants that have been shown to reduce your risk of developing inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. The plant pigments have a natural anti-inflammatory agent that has properties similar to ibuprofen (4).
Nutritional Value Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals (5):
Did you know just one sweet potato gives you 400% of the vitamin A you need each day? (3) Sweet potatoes are one of the top sources of beta-carotene which is a precursor of vitamin A (5) and like carrots they can help support healthy vision (2).
Sweet Potatoes vs White Potatoes
As with most foods they get branded against each other as a “good” or “bad” choice especially when one is referred to as a superfood. Or less you are looking to increase vitamin A, nutritionally would you believe it is virtually a tie! Check out this nutritional comparison infographic from Precision Nutrition (this is the company I did my first nutrition course with).
How To Add Sweet Potatoes To Your Diet
Sweet potatoes really are such a versatile carb you can eat as (2):
Homemade Sweet potato crisps: By thinly slicing a large sweet potato and brushing lightly with olive oil then baking at 180c in approximately 15 minute you will have a delicious healthy snack (cook until lightly browned) (7).
How To Prepare Sweet Potatoes
Skin on or off? For a lot of people this may come down to a personal preference or the type of potato mash or roasties. Keeping the skin on and cooking the sweet potato helps to minimise the leaching of nutrients including beta-carotene and vitamin C (5).
It’s fair to say sweet potatoes are not only versatile they are packed with nutrition and health benefits. Whilst these delicious vegetables are currently in season, the high nutritional content makes them worth adding into your diet all year round!
Written by Jade Mottley - Sport Science BSc & Human Nutrition MSc