Do you know sweet potatoes? It is a very healthy and also good food. Learn about the nutritional properties, benefits and how to use American potatoes.
The American sweet potato, or simply sugar potato, is a tuber of the Convolvulaceae family, also known as Ipomoea batatas or, more simply, batata. It is native to South America but still grown everywhere. In Italy the regions of greatest production are Puglia and Veneto.
The appearance is reminiscent of potatoes even if the flavor is very different. Furthermore, depending on the variety, the yam can have a skin that varies from red-purple (red yam) to white-brown (white yam). Like the peel, the pulp can also have colors ranging from whitish to red, orange or purple. When we talk about “batata”, we generally refer to the red batata. Although not well known and little used, it is an extraordinary food, rich in nutritional properties.
Sweet potatoes: calories and nutritional properties
Sweet potatoes are low in calories, 100 grams in fact provide about 90 kcal and mainly contain complex carbohydrates. In fact, they can also be consumed by those on a diet. Fats are almost non-existent and contain little protein, while the fiber content is discrete. Particularly relevant is the content of vitamin A and that of vitamin C, two vitamins with antioxidant properties. About 74% of their content is represented by water. Mineral salts such as sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus are well represented.
Nutritional values per 100g of sweet potatoes:
- Kcal: ninety two
- Carbohydrates: 21.3 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Proteins: 1.2 g
- Fibers: 2.3 g
- Waterfall: 73.7 g
- Iron: 0.7 mg
- Soccer: 24 mg
- Sodium: 40 mg
- Potassium: 370 mg
- Phosphorus: 50 mg
- Zinc: 0.3 mg
- C vitamin: 23 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.17 mg
- Vitamin B3: 0.5 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.09 mg
- Vitamin E: 4.56 mg
- Retinol equivalent: 655 mg
American potatoes: the health benefits
Potatoes are rich in properties that make them suitable for practically everyone , being nutritious, satiating and not excessively caloric. Their content of beta-carotene, precursor of vitamin A, makes these potatoes one of the foods with the highest antioxidant power. Let’s see what the benefits of sweet potatoes are.
✓ Protect the cardiovascular system
They are rich in antioxidant compounds, including anthocyanins, which give sweet potatoes protective properties against the cardiovascular system. The fibers they contain also contribute to lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases by helping to keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood under control.
✓ Support the immune system
Sweet potatoes are sources of vitamin C, known for its antioxidant properties, and beta carotene, converted in our body into vitamin A, also an antioxidant vitamin. These two vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.
✓ Useful in case of diabetes
Thanks to their richness in fiber, American potatoes have a low glycemic index, thus helping to keep blood sugar and insulinemia under control, and can also be consumed in case of diabetes.
✓ They help the muscles
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of mineral salts, including potassium and magnesium, which are essential for muscle metabolism and contraction processes.
✓ Useful for the intestine
American potatoes contribute to intestinal well -being since, in addition to being rich in water, they contain soluble and insoluble fibers that promote intestinal transit and are an excellent substrate for the growth of intestinal bacterial flora.
✓ They are good for the eyes
The beta-carotene contained in sweet potatoes is the precursor of vitamin A, but also of retinol, a fundamental molecule for the proper functioning of the eye, so much so that the lack of vitamin A can give rise to vision problems. Eating sweet potatoes is therefore a good way to prevent vision problems.
✓ Suitable for celiacs
Being naturally gluten-free, sweet potato can be consumed without problems by those suffering from celiac disease, as a substitute for bread, for example, or as an alternative to common potatoes.
Sweet potatoes: how to cook them and some useful tips in the kitchen
You can find sweet potatoes in fruit and vegetable markets and often also in large food distribution. These are foods that are well suited for preparing sweet but also savory dishes, which practically everyone can eat and which are also easy to prepare.
Once purchased, they can be kept raw even for a few weeks, as long as they are placed in a cool and dry place and not in the refrigerator. After that we can indulge ourselves in the preparation of a thousand recipes with sweet potatoes.
The cooking techniques are practically the same as those of traditional potatoes, but let’s not expect the same taste: the taste of sugary potatoes is sweeter, in fact, with something that reminds us of the taste of pumpkin and carrots. Also, the red yam is considered sweeter than the white flesh variety.
To take full advantage of the properties of American potatoes, since many beneficial compounds are found in its peel, the ideal would be not to peel them. In this case, therefore, we will have to wash them well and then we can proceed to cooking. This can be done in a pot on the stove, in the oven, steamed or in the microwave. Of course, the simplest and most genuine way to enjoy it is to prepare it steamed or baked, in the oven wrapped in aluminum or in the microwave wrapped in parchment paper, as we would do for “classic” potatoes.
Once cooked, just season it with extra virgin olive oil and a little salt and it will be a perfect side dish for meat or fish main courses. We can also prepare an alternative puree to the classic one, with the addition of aromatic herbs such as sage, chives or rosemary. Cut into matches or chunks we can enjoy them in the typical baked version or make tasty chips if sliced very thinly.
It is also possible to use the yams for sweet recipes, such as an apple pie in which mashed boiled potatoes are used instead of flour, or a sweet for breakfast using them raw and chopped, as well as preparing a carrot cake.
Finally, unlike traditional potatoes, sugary potatoes can also be eaten raw, with the peel, after having cut them into thin slices or grated, added to a fresh salad as a side dish for fish, for example.
Can people with diabetes eat sweet potatoes?
Even those with diabetes can eat American potatoes, albeit with some precautions and always consumed in moderation. Specifically, for those suffering from diabetes, the best way to consume sweet potatoes is raw or boiled, since in this way the glycemic index of the potato is lowered even more, compared to cooking in the oven, for example.
Sweet potatoes and “normal” potatoes: the nutritional differences
The sweet potato and the traditional potato belong to two different families: the first belongs to the Convolvulaceae family, the second to that of the Solanaceae. Not only that, there is also another botanical difference that characterizes them: the traditional potato is a tuber, while the sugar potato is a tuberous root, which, like the tuber, accumulates nutrients, but on the contrary it cannot germinate and therefore give rise to a new plant. It also seems that while the potato is native to the Andes, the sweet potato is instead native to tropical areas.
Another difference lies in the shape, since, although both types of potatoes can have irregular shapes, mostly the potato is ovoid or round, while the sweet potato is elongated at the ends. The most striking difference between the two foods, however, is the flavor, which in the case of the American potato is much sweeter.
From a nutritional point of view, the two types of potatoes have more or less the same content of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but the sweet potato has a higher fiber content, which gives it a lower glycemic index than that of common potato and therefore also makes it suitable for those who have problems in managing glucose. In addition, the American potato contains more vitamins, especially C and A, and more iron, calcium and sodium. It should also be noted the conspicuous presence in sweet potatoes of precious antioxidant compounds.
Finally, it is interesting to underline the fact that, unlike traditional potatoes, sweet potatoes do not contain solanine, a substance that in some cases can cause ailments such as nausea and stomach pain.
Contraindications of American potatoes
The contraindications of the sweet potato are very few. However, people predisposed to developing stones should limit their consumption, since sweet potatoes contain oxalic acid and those who use diuretics because they could interfere with the action of drugs. Also, due to their laxative effect and the presence of fiber, people with diverticulitis and ulcers should be careful and possibly talk to a doctor or nutrition professional.
Why are American potatoes sweet?
American potatoes naturally contain, as well as other cereals, an enzyme that is able to modify the starch content of the potato transforming it in part into maltose, a more digestible sugar with a sweet taste. This process is facilitated by heating, that is, when the potatoes are cooked. That’s why American potatoes have their distinctive sweet taste!