Secret of the Sweet Potato

Just How Good is this Thanksgiving Favorite?

For many people, the belief that if it tastes good it can’t be good for you runs rampant. We know better, though, because with just a little research it is easy to find flavor-friendly food choices that give you all the vitamins you need and none of the junk you don’t. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition, but in honor of this holiday season we’re going to be talking about sweet potatoes. Though they do come canned, we recommend using the fresh variety from your grocer’s produce section for the healthiest results and the best taste. Sweet potatoes, also known as yams, fit perfectly into low-carb diets and provide many vitamins and minerals with little to no effort on your part. Just take a look at some of the nutritional information this delicious veggie has to offer.

sweet potato

Let’s consider the vitamins first. In one 5″ sweet potato, which is about the same medium size you’ll find on most grocery shelves, you get over three and a half times the amount of daily recommended vitamin A. Vitamin A, is a key ingredient to good eyesight and healthy vision. It’s often found in other foods like carrots, but it also can play a role in bone growth in children and the health of the reproductive system in people of all ages. Vitamin A can boost your immune system, too, so it’s important to get plenty of it! Vitamin A makes your skin more resistant to bacteria, which can help keep those germs out. As with any vitamin, overdoing it has risks so it is important to ask your healthcare provider how much vitamin A consumption is right for you.

Unlike many other foods – fruits and vegetables included – sweet potatoes are virtually fat free with only .1g of fat per yam. There’s no guilt to be had eating these, that’s for sure. They are also low in sodium, and have absolutely no cholesterol. These make excellent carb choices for people who have diabetes or issues with high blood pressure or high cholesterol as they likely won’t cause much of an issue for you.

Back to the benefits of sweet potatoes, they contain lots of potassium and other vitamins such as vitamin c, vitamin B-6, iron, and magnesium, all of which are required as part of a balanced, healthy diet. They also provide about 15% of your daily fiber needs. Diets high in fiber have been linked to lowering the risk of gastrointestinal diseases and colon cancer. According to sweetpotato.org, there is more fiber in a single sweet potato than in a bowl of cereal!

How to Eat Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be enjoyed just about any way that a regular potato can. Mashing them makes a delicious twist on the usual white potatoes, and baking them in the skin, wrapped in tinfoil can make a sweet side-dish to burgers and hot dogs. The most popular option, especially around Thanksgiving, seems to be peeling and chopping sweet potatoes, putting them in a casserole dish and baking them in the oven. Once they’re nearly finished, marshmellows may be added to give a sweet finishing touch that makes it just a little more special for everyone at the dinner table. They also taste especially yummy with a bit of all-natural maple syrup drizzled over them while they’re hot!

Sources: sweetpotato.org, Dr. Weil.

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