Seasonal Produce Spotlight: Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is a healthy1, versatile vegetable that can serve a variety of roles in our diets. It’s a mainstay of many budget-friendly meals; it’s sweet enough that, combined with a sprinkling of cinnamon, can serve as a snack or dessert in and of itself; and it can be served as part of a main dish or on the side.

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The health benefits of sweet potatoes are numerous. According to Carolyn Washburn, an Extension Associate Professor at Utah State University, they’re “fat-free, low in sodium, cholesterol-free, a good source of dietary fiber, high in Vitamin A and C, and a good source of potassium2. Yes, they are fairly high in carbs, but we need some carbs to keep our body fueled3, and it’s much better to get them from high nutrient vegetables than from a couple of slices of white bread that have little to no nutritional value.

It’s generally accepted that a medium sweet potato weighs about 130 grams. That means it contains about 27 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber4 for a total net carbs content of 23 grams. While you probably wouldn’t want to eat one every day, for most people, one to two a week is a good way to make sure you’re getting the healthy carbs that you need.

At my local farmer’s market, you can find pesticide-free sweet potatoes for about $1.50/lb and at many grocery stores this time of year, you can find them for as low as $1.25-$1.30/lb. A pound generally equates to around 3 medium sweet potatoes, making them a good, low-cost option for being part of a healthy meal.

How to store: While sweet potatoes can last for three to four weeks if they’re kept in a dry, dark, cool (55°F) place2, it’s best to use them within one week of purchasing. They do not need to be refrigerated.

Besides just baking a sweet potato and sprinkling some cinnamon on it, here are some of my favorite sweet potato recipes:

 

Sources:

  1. PubMed.gov. Journal of Medicinal Food. Sweet Potato(lpomoea batatas [L.] Lam) –a valuable medicinal food: a review.
  2. Utah State University Cooperative Extension Food Sense. Food Sense Guide to Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.https://extension.usu.edu/juab/ou-files/FN_FoodSense_2011-04pr.pdf
  3. The Johns Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes. http://hopkinsdiabetesinfo.org/the-truth-about-starchy-vegetables/
  4. United States Department of Agriculture. USDA Product Information Sheet. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/fdd/100343_Sweet_Potatoes_Fresh.pdf

 

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