Twenty years ago, the humble sweet potato might have occasionally made its way to your Sunday roast if you were lucky. Nowadays it’s considered one of the trendiest ‘health foods’ in Australia. So popular that even sweet potato ‘juice’ was pitched, (thank goodness that never became a thing).
Sweet potatoes are so versatile that you can now find them as fries, in brownies, as toast and even made into a killer ice cream. Not only are they great bang for your buck but they contain high levels of antioxidants, are a source of dietary fibre and pack a nutritious punch with essential vitamins and minerals.
A true battler, sweet potatoes are hardy and an easy crop to grow. They grow best in warm to hot climates and are in season during Spring and Summer (now!). With that in mind, it makes sense that over 70% of our Aussie-grown sweet potato crops are grown in Queensland with New South Wales following as the second largest producer.
You’ll find the Gold, Purple and White varieties most commonly, all of which differ in texture, sweetness and popularity.
- Gold sweet potatoes (Beauregard/Bellevue) are known for their sweetness and moistness and are best for mashing and baking
- White sweet potatoes (Kestle) are creamy skinned with white flesh are drier in texture and are best for roasting
- White Skin Purple Flesh sweet potatoes (WSPF) when thinly sliced are great in salads
- Purple sweet potatoes (Northern Star) taste like baked chestnuts and best fried as chips.
Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, known to play a role in eye and skin health as well as the immune system. Just one sweet potato will also provide your daily recommended intake of vitamin C which promotes immune health, wound healing and connective tissue development. They’re also a rich source of fibre that offer protective effects on the digestive system and contain vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, calcium and selenium.
Of the varieties that are available, orange fleshed sweet potatoes are higher in beta-carotene whereas purple fleshed sweet potatoes are higher in anthocyanins however both are phytochemicals that play a role in health to reduce oxidation and fight free radicals.
If you asked anyone out there what they know about sweet potato and its health benefits, most will often say that it is low GI. (FYI: GI measures how a food containing carbohydrates raises blood glucose levels). People with diabetes are recommended to consume moderate amounts of carbohydrates, high in fibre that are also low GI to improve blood sugar regulation. Sweet potatoes being low GI offers a great alternative to traditional potatoes for those living with diabetes when eaten in moderation and among a balanced diet.
WAYS TO PREPARE SHOPPING & STORAGE
How we prepare sweet potatoes may also offer a nutritional difference as steaming has been shown to increase the antioxidant properties of polyphenols by 9.44% as opposed to boiling and frying which decreased the content.
Sweet potatoes are a pretty easy to choose & low maintenance vegetable. When selecting your sweet potatoes, there’s not too much to it, just look for ones with no bruises, no soft spots, cracked skin or signs of sprouting. Consumer insight reports also found that a ‘torpedo’ shape can also be a preference for some as it is easier to peel. As for storage, keep them in a cool, well ventilated dry place and avoid the fridge to prevent ‘hard spots’ from occurring.
OUR FAVOURITE WAYS TO EAT SWEET POTATO
You can find Sweet Potato in over 22 of our dishes, yep – we’re a little obsessed, but we’re sure you’re starting to see why!
Our favourite Dineamic meals with sweet potato:
- Sweet Potato & Coconut Curry with Rice.
- Peri Peri Chicken with Sweet Potato and Broccoli
- Low FODMAP Moroccan Beef with Sweet Potato
- Sweet Potato, Coconut and Turmeric Soup
- Mixed Potato Mash
Other ways we like to serve sweet potatoes:
- Loaded baked (sweet) potato – roasted sweet potato topped with Chilli con Carne, avo, tomatoes, cheese & sour cream *drool*
- Sweet potato toast – sweet potato thinly sliced lengthways & toasted (yes, you can put it in the toaster), then topped with pretty much anything you like. Some go-to options:
- avocado, smoked salmon & a poached egg
- nut butter with sliced banana
While they’ve grown in popularity over the last few years, we still think that sweet potatoes are an underrated vegetable considering their nutritional value and versatility. It’s easy to see why they’ve become a pantry staple & go-to when you’re not sure what to add to a meal.
Tell us in the comments what your favourite Dineamic meal with sweet potato is or how you like serve sweet potato in the comments below!
For more info visit:
- Australian Sweet Potatoes
- Australian Sweet Potato Growers Inc – Evaluating Sweet Potato varieties to meet market needs.