By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
Sweet potatoes, sometimes referred to as “yams”, are from the root vegetable family, and with their amazing color and nutritional value they are in another galaxy compared to the typical white potato. The orange variety is so sweet that our tendency to dress sweet potato with sweeteners like maple syrup, brown sugar, and marshmallows is completely unnecessary, and turns them into a calorie-loaded food. Half a plain medium sweet potato only contains about 100 calories.
Although full of simple starches contributing to its sweetness, sweet potatoes are also rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, making them a highly satiating food. As such, they keep blood sugar levels reasonably stable and are an excellent food for people with diabetes and those wanting to loose or maintain weight. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A (beta-carotine) and C.
Sweet potatoes, either yellow or orange varieties, are available all year round but fall, when we start to crave hot, starchy comfort foods, is one of the best times to start incorporating them into your diet. My favorites are the orange variety, which I think are moister, sweeter, and easier to cook. Choose firm, smooth sweet potatoes without wrinkles, sprouts or blemishes. Cook them in their skin (boiling or baking) to retain their nutrients, and then peel once they have cooled slightly or just scoop out the flesh. They are also delicious thinly sliced and baked (spread evenly on a baking sheet) with extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of salt until crispy on the outside.