Inside Essentials: Sweet potatoes

The rich orange-coloured sweet potato (also known, incorrectly, as the ‘yam’), is in season at Thanksgiving time, but if you can find sweet potatoes at other times during the year, they make a great addition to a regular diet.

They are a staple in the Hot Spots, Bama and Okinawa, and are fed to the pigs there too, which is thought to be one reason why pork is of such good quality and so nutrient-rich in these places. In Okinawa, there is a traditional greeting, nmu kamatooin, meaning ‘Are you getting enough sweet potato?’ The Okinawans also have a statue of the man who introduced the imo, as they call sweet potatoes, to the island – this revered personage is known as the Imo King.

Sweet potatoes, as their rich orange flesh suggests, are an excellent source of beta-carotene, the antioxidant vitamin which can reach the fatty parts of our cells to protect them from cancer and which is also converted to vitamin A, so important for the health of our respiratory tracts, guts, and eyes. Just one or two good-quality sweet potatoes will give you all the beta-carotene you need for the day.

As well as beta-carotene, sweet potatoes contain vitamin E, vitamin C, fibre, and minerals including zinc, copper, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. This makes them good for energy, immunity, growth, and fertility.

Sweet potatoes are juicy and flavorsome and also very versatile for using in the kitchen. You can use them in soups, casseroles and pies; they can be mashed, roasted, fried, grilled, sauteed, baked, and used in desserts. They go well with all kinds of condiments, spices and herbs including cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, and coconut. They are excellent with salads.

Another good thing about sweet potatoes is that they are high in fiber and lower on the glycaemic index than regular potatoes, which means they can help you stay slender. So let’s give thanks for sweet potatoes. Are you getting enough?




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