Let’s talk about sweet potatoes. The orange and purple-hued variety, to be exact. If you have not yet acquainted your body with these two highly nutritious species, you have no idea what you are missing out on. Fortunately, I’m here to tell you all about them and encourage you to try them out.
Sweet potatoes are chock full of healthy nutrients. However, different varieties have varied flavors, textures, appearance. Their antioxidant content also differs. While your choice ultimately depends on personal preference, it doesn’t hurt to learn what the not-so-common varieties have to offer. So, let’s dive in.
Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes
As their name suggests, these sweet potatoes boast a deep orange-yellow color and are incredibly rich in beta carotene. When consumed, this antioxidant gets converted to vitamin A which might help delay the aging process and make you less prone to skin cancer. The sweet potatoes taste slightly sweet, and their inside is fairly firm.
This excellent source of Vitamin A also contains Vitamin C and B-6, fiber, and potassium. What’s more, it’s the perfect low-calorie breakfast constituent with half a large sweet potato comprising only 81 calories. Besides, sweet potatoes usually contain slowly digested carbohydrates which help sustain your energy for longer-and keep you full for longer.
Purple Sweet Potatoes
These purple-tinted sweet potatoes sport a much drier, denser, and creamier texture than their orange cousins. And a better-balanced sweetness. To get maximum flavor from purple sweet potatoes, you may want to bake them – at moderate heat- for much longer than regular sweet potatoes. This makes them pleasantly moist.
Purple-colored sweet potatoes contain high levels of Vitamin C and anthocyanin – a flavonoid responsible for the purple hue. And, get this; they possess the highest level of antioxidants, phenolics, and soluble dietary fiber. The antioxidants help to enhance DNA synthesis, maintain cell division and survival and could help prevent colon cancer. And their vitamins possess anti-inflammatory properties.
The Benefits of Consuming Orange and Purple-coloured Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense, mineral-rich, and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates to meet your body’s energy requirements. In addition, orange and purple sweet potatoes provide you with numerous health benefits, including the following:
They Are High in Antioxidants
As mentioned earlier, all sweet potatoes contain antioxidants. They keep your body safe from free radicals that might damage your DNA or trigger inflammation. These harmful free radicals are also believed to have links to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, as well as aging.
However, the sweet potato color intensity determines both the source and the number of antioxidants it contains. For instance, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids, while purple-colored tubers are rich in anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that may contain anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, and anti-microbial properties. They also boast memory-boosting properties and may help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
On the other hand, carotenoids such as beta carotenes (the yellow-orange pigment) are your body’s source of vitamin A. They might help boost your immune system and keep your eyes healthy.
They Have Zero Cholesterol
Good news for all you people looking for foods low in fat and cholesterol. These sweet potatoes have no fat and no cholesterol — well, unless you smother yours with butter, that is. They can thus help support your weight loss goals. Still, If you want to add extra flavor, go for low-fat yogurt or fresh herbs.
And there’s more. Despite their natural sweetness, these healthy tubers have a low glycemic index. Lower than potatoes even. Therefore, you can enjoy them without worrying about spiking your blood sugar levels.
They Contain Fiber
Both varieties contain dietary fiber, which is essential for promoting a healthy digestive system. A fiber-rich diet promotes regular bowel movements, helps you avoid constipation, and could lower the risk of colon cancer. Also, the antioxidants in purple-fleshed sweet potatoes help healthy gut bacteria to flourish.
Sweet potatoes boast two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber may increase the feeling of satiety and minimize blood sugar spikes by slowing down the digestion of sugars and starches. On its part, insoluble fiber might help reduce the risk of diabetes and supports gut health.
They Help Combat Anxiety and Depression
If you find yourself battling stress, anxiety, or even depression in today’s hectic world, you are in good company. But guess what? Including sweet potatoes in your diet may be of great help.
You see, they have a high magnesium content that can help ease physical and mental stress, irritability, depression, insomnia, and relieve restlessness. Need I say more?
How to Add Sweet Potatoes to Your Regular Diet
So how do you incorporate this delicious, healthy, and nutritious meal into your diet? Fortunately for you, this is quite easy. For starters, you can have your sweet potatoes with or without the skin. To prepare them, boil, fry, roast, mash, bake or puree your sweet potatoes to add into bread, cakes, chapatis, and even porridge.
Since they are naturally sweet, they pair well with a variety of seasonings; hence you can enjoy them in savory or sweet dishes. Below are helpful suggestions on how to have your orange and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes:
- In baked products: Add pureed sweet potato.
- Sweet potato hash: Peel, dice into cubes, and cook with onion in a pan.
- In soups and salads: Dice sweet potatoes, cook and add to your salad.
- Sweet potato fries: Peel thinly, slice into wedges, then bake or fry.
- Sweet potato toast: Slice thinly, toast, and top with nut butter or avocado.
- Baked sweet potatoes: Bake whole sweet potatoes in the oven until tender.
- Mashed sweet potatoes: Peel, boil, and mash with milk, broth, and choice seasoning.
- Roasted sweet potato wedges: Cut into thick wedges, add olive oil, herbs, and spices, and bake until crispy on the outside.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Sweet Potatoes
Here are tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your sweet potatoes:
- Prepare your sweet potatoes with a little fat coconut, olive, or avocado oil to boost beta-carotene absorption.
- Their glycemic index (GI) ranges between medium and high thus; large amounts are not recommended if you have type 2 diabetes.
- Sweet potatoes contain resistant starch, which feeds your friendly gut bacteria. You can boost the amount of resistant starch by cooling them after cooking.
- Vitamin C absorption increases sweet potatoes after cooking. This applies to some antioxidants too.
- Sweet potatoes can help support your weight loss goals or help in weight management since they keep you feeling full longer. This makes them excellent for breakfast.
Fun Facts About Sweet Potatoes
Below are some interesting facts about sweet potatoes:
- They contain more nutrients than either spinach or broccoli.
- Sweet potatoes taste even better when baked or roasted.
- Boiled sweet potatoes contain more beta-carotene than the baked or fried sweet ones.
- You can retain up to 92% of their nutrients by reducing the cooking time — boil in a tightly-covered pot for 20 minutes.
- Cooking sweet potatoes with their skin reduces the leaching of nutrients such as beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes are delicious, filling, and highly nutritious. They are also affordable and easy to add to your regular diet. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on all the healthy goodness sweet potatoes have to offer.
Grab a pack of orange or purple-colored sweet potatoes in your next grocery haul and reap their numerous health benefits. Plus add some color to your breakfast table while at it!
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Rachel Macharia says