As November rolls in with cold temperatures, it’s the perfect time of year to celebrate Sweet Potato Awareness Month and enjoy the comfort and health benefits of this incredible super food!
Eating sweet potatoes is a delightful way to take care of your health! These root vegetables are packed full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. The orange-hued carotenoid pigments contain sizable amounts of vitamin A and the bioavailability of beta-carotene makes them a standout antioxidant food. Anthocyanin is a pigment present in this tuber that can play a role in reducing inflammation related health problems. This root tuber draws upon below ground resources to feed the above ground parts of the plant. They are excellent sources of vitamin C, full of manganese, magnesium, copper, niacin, choline, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin B6 and fiber.
It is a misconception that starchy root vegetables should be avoided if one wants to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In fact, sweet potatoes been shown to potentially improve blood sugar regulation due to their high fiber content and a protein hormone called adiponectin which serves as an important modifier of insulin metabolism. Despite their sweetness, they have a low glycemic index which means they do not cause a sudden spike your blood sugar levels.
Other unquie benefits include improving digestive health, improving cardiac function, boosting immunity, improving eye health & vision, improve brain growth & development, improve memory, boost fertility and help fight cancer.
There are a large variety of ways you can prepare sweet potatoes including steaming, grilling, twice-baked, stir-frying & baking. Rather than smothering them with copious amounts of sugar and fat, learn to appreciate the natural sweetness and experiment with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, balsamic, sage, garlic, orange zest, pumpkin seeds, rosemary & thyme.
Ten fun facts to share with your friends & family this year at Thanksgiving:
- Sweet potatoes are flowers and in the morning glory family.
- Yams and sweet potatoes are not even distantly related; they are in two different botanical families. Yams are related to grasses and lilies.
- NC is one of the states with the highest production of sweet potatoes.
- In 1995 was declaired NC’s state vegetable.
- Some sweet potatoes are purple due to an abundance of a pigment called anthocyanin.
- There are approximately 400 different varieties of sweet potatoes nationally and about 25 varieties available in the US.
- The antioxidant activity in purple sweet potatoes is > 3 times higher than a blueberry.
- You can eat the leaves of the sweet potato plant.
- More than 250 billion pounds of sweet potatoes are produced globally.
- The average American eats more than 7 pounds of sweet potatoes annually.