In Season: Healthy, Yummy Sweet Potatoes!

I’m loving that these delicious veggies are in season at my local farmers market. I eat the whole thing–skin and all, so I like knowing that my food isn’t bathed in pesticides. I feel a bit guilty eating these, because they’re so scrumptious. Plus, the pie. OMG the pie. Anyone tried Chef Bob’s late wife’s recipe for sweet potato pie? I made it at Thanksgiving–two pies. It was gone before I had a chance to take a picture.

But sugar-laden sweet potato pie kinda cancels the health benefits of eating and enjoying these roots in all their plainness. A little butter or olive oil, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a few flakes of clove and some sugar-free maple syrup and you’d swear you were only missing the pie crust.

Sweet potatoes come in white, orange and purple (the purple is ah-maz-ing and chock full of antioxidants). All varieties are high in Vitamin A, which is great for your skin and eyes. They’re also an anti-inflammatory, and despite it’s sweetness, works to regulate healthy blood sugar levels. Be sure to eat your potatoes with some sort of fatty source to ensure optimal vitamin absorption. Also, don’t bake the potatoes–you’ll preserve the good stuff better if you boil or steam them. I steam mine until their soft but still firm enough not to be mushy when I slice them.

Try making sweet potatoes with fish. Studies show that sweet potatoes in the digestive tract works to mitigate the effects of heavy metals like mercury or arsenic. The the best site ever made about vegetables, World’s Healthiest Foods:

Recent research has shown that particularly when passing through our digestive tract, sweet potato cyanidins and peonidins and other color-related phytonutrients may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. That risk reduction is important not only for individuals at risk of digestive tract problems like irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis but for all persons wanting to reduce the potential risk posed by heavy metal residues (like mercury or cadmium or arsenic) in their diet.

So…if you’re scared you’re being poisoned like those crazy “Deadly Women” ladies on the Investigation Discovery channel, eat a yam, save a life.

Another thing–our ancestors ate sweet potatoes as part of their regular diet. This ancient food, in it pure form, tops the list for foods that are genetically-compatible with our physiology.

Don’t know the difference between a “yam” and a “sweet potato”? Well, in the U.S., they’re both the same thing.

While there are attempts to distinguish between the two, such as the mandatory labeling by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the moist-fleshed, orange-colored sweet potatoes that are labeled as “yams” also be accompanied by the label “sweet potato,” when most people hear the term “yam,” they think of the orange-colored sweet potato as opposed to the true yam.

From a science perspective, true yam is a root vegetable belonging to the Dioscorceae family, which are monocotyledons (or “monocots” for short, with the prefix “mono” referring to the fact that they have only one embryonic seed leaf). Sweet potatoes belong to the Convolvulaceae or morning glory plant family, are dicotyledons (or “dicots” for short, with the prefix “di” referring to the fact that they have two embryonic seed leaves) and are known by the scientific name of Ipomoea batatas.

 

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