We’re pretty sure that nothing can beat the deliciousness of a sweet potato. Creamy and filling, a sweet potato featuring all of your favorite toppings is pretty healthy too. Here’s why:
Beta-carotene (or Vitamin A) is associated with orange veggies, but sweet potatoes are often overlooked. While the amount of beta-carotene varies by variety (and how much you eat), just a few ounces of sweet potato offers 35-90% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.
Extra Tip: Studies have shown that adding a bit of healthy fat to sweet potatoes can help slow your digestion – so your body can absorb even more beta-carotene. Try either olive oil or coconut oil.
Antioxidant and More
Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant, one that helps your body fight off a variety of diseases and ailments, as well as helping you have healthier skin and an overall better lifestyle.
But that’s the only reason to eat sweet potatoes. The phytonutrients found in sweet potatoes can help our digestive system recover from damage caused by free radicals and heavy metals. While we all ingest some minuscule manner of metals, people in some areas of the world (or who have been exposed though their diets) may want to increase their intake of these phytonutrients to reduce long-term damage.
A Great Anti-Inflammatory
The color pigments in sweet potatoes, including anthocyanin, are vital to reduce inflammation. Studies have indicated that digesting sweet potatoes can help to curb the chemical reactions that can lead to increased inflammation – everywhere in the body.
For groups of people who need to keep an eye on blood sugar levels, most starches are avoided. You might be surprise to know that this is not the case with sweet potatoes. Although sweet potatoes fall in the middle of the Glycemic Index, they are also high in fiber. Additionally, sweet potatoes encourage your body to release adiponectin, which modifies insulin metabolism. So, even though you’re consuming a higher GI food, the sweet potato is helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Choosing and Preparing Sweet Potatoes
Is it a sweet potato, or a yam? Odds are it’s a sweet potato, regardless of what it’s called. Yam production in the U.S. is limited, and food regulation agencies are a bit lax about what these tubers are called. Don’t worry; regardless of what it’s called you’re still getting the same benefits!
Sweet Potatoes, Two Ways
And now for our top favorite ways to enjoy the delicious health benefits of sweet potatoes:
1. Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Preparing a loaded sweet potato is easy. Poke some holes in your sweet potato and cook at 400°F. Start check for doneness at 45 minutes, but it may take up to an hour. Your sweet potato is done when you can easily insert a skewer or knife all the way through. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise and add your toppings. Put back in the oven if you want your toppings warmed, or enjoy right away!
Not sure what to put on your sweet potato? Here are some ideas:
- Western: Black beans, corn, cilantro, salsa
- Healthy: Quinoa, mushroom, avocado, olive oil
- Thai: Red onion, scallions, shredded cabbage, coconut milk, red curry
- Spinach: Olive oil, spinach, artichokes, cashew cheese
- Mediterranean: Olives, sundried tomatoes, parsley, oregano, vegan feta
- Super loaded: Garlic, kale, red cabbage, walnuts, cranberries, coconut oil, salt & pepper
2. Sweet Potato Toast
When you’re looking for a quick snack or just aren’t hungry enough for a loaded sweet potato, opt for the hottest food trend – Sweet Potato Toast!
They’re simple to make. Slice a raw sweet potato into ¼ inch slices lengthwise. Place in toaster on high for 5 minutes. Check for doneness and toast for another 1-2 minutes if necessary. Top with toppings like you would with toasted bread. Opt for a savory toast with toppings like avocado, hummus, tomato or black beans. Or try a sweet version with almond butter and cacao nibs or coconut yogurt and strawberries. See below for some delicious examples from Isabel Moreno.
Don’t forget to explore some of the over 400 varieties of sweet potatoes. You’ll find different flavors, colors and textures. There are even purple ones – enjoy!