Sweet Potatoes Packed With Nutrients

Sweet potatoes are a staple at Thanksgiving dinners. To learn more about this vegetable, we got in touch with Alison Duncan, Professor, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph. What we discovered may make you want to put them on the menu more than once a year.

We’ve heard that sweet potatoes are super nutritious… just how nutritious are they??

Dr. Duncan: Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrition!  They are high in dietary fibre, essential vitamins and minerals and especially beta-carotene, which we can convert into vitamin A in our body.  You can easily get your entire vitamin A daily requirement from a sweet potato. Vitamin A is great for your eye health and your bones. Additionally, vitamin A helps fight against skin, lungs and mouth infections.

What’s the nutritional value of white potatoes and how do they compare to a sweet potato?

Dr. Duncan: White potatoes and sweet potatoes both pack a nutritional punch and are part of a healthy diet.  They contain similar amounts of carbohydrates, fat and protein, vitamin C and potassium.  Sweet potatoes have more fiber and beta-carotene (which our body converts to vitamin A).  But really it is a nutritional tie and you can’t go wrong, any kind of potato is amazing and should be included in a healthy diet.

What’s the healthiest way to cook them?? And do you lose their nutritional benefits if you add something like… marshmallows?

Dr. Duncan: Any way you cook them is healthy.  You will always get some nutritional value from the sweet potato itself, but of course if you prepare it with other things like marshmallows or a less healthy fat, you will be getting other things.  But overall, you are still eating sweet potatoes and it is worth trying them without marshmallows as they are very sweet on their own!

What’s your favorite way to cook them?

Dr. Duncan I like them best simply prepared in the microwave.  I just take a sweet potato, wash it, pierce it with a fork multiple times, wrap it with a damp paper towel and microwave for two 5-minute periods.  I then let it cool, cut it in half and then simply eat it all with nothing added as it is sweet enough on its own!

Anything else you want people to know about sweet potatoes?

Dr. Duncan: Sweet potatoes actually come in other colours besides orange.  For example, there are purple sweet potatoes which are high in anthocyanins, a phytochemical that not only gives them their purple colour but offer antioxidant potential.

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious vegetable high in fibre and beta-carotene. White potatoes contain similar amounts of carbohydrates, Vitamin C and potassium. Any kind of potato should be included in a healthy diet.