Sweet Potato

Description
Sweet potato, or Ipomoea batatas, comes from the family Convolvulaceae. It is essentially a dicotyledonous plant. Sweet potatoes can be considered as a variety of potatoes, though having a lot of major differences with potatoes.
It is also an underground root vegetable. It is also known as yam in some places, though yams are different vegetables, and you should not mix up the two. Sweet potato is very common in USA, and distributed widely during the ceremony of Thanksgiving. However, sweet potato is available all the year round in your local stores or supermarkets, as it is an annual crop, and it is a shame that people do not consume it apart from such occasions, because if prepared properly, it is a delicacy. It is very tasty, and also has a large nutritive value. It also has many medicinal benefits. However, its main season is in the months of November and December.

The plant is a perennial vine. The sweet potato is generally orange or yellow-skinned, while the inner thinner skin is mostly white, though it may also be different shades of orange, purple or red. The root of this vegetable is usually the shape of a potato, and thus its name. The ends of this vegetable are firm and rounded, though sometimes it may have long, slender and tapering ends.


Buying Tips
When you go to the market, make sure you spend your hard earned money properly, and not buy unhealthy vegetables. If you want your choice to be fresh, make sure that the skin is quite smooth, with no sudden bumps or indentations. Also, avoid those which have cuts or dark spots and stains on them. These are signs of decay, and the vegetable is not fresh. Also, keep in mind that taro is a vegetable which is unlike other vegetables in terms of storage. That is, it should not be kept in too cold conditions. Thus, you should avoid the sweet potato kept in the refrigerated sections of the market, as this environment reduces the tastiness of the item.

Culinary Usage
Sweet potato should always be properly washed before being used, taking proper precautionary measures. Some culinary usages are:

  1. Sometimes they are cooked properly along with bananas, maple syrup, cinnamon and some other spices. They can also be topped with almonds and walnuts.
  2. Remember, that the flesh of sweet potato should not be exposed to air, as it results in the flesh getting darkened. Thus, you should cook it as soon as you cut it or peel it.
  3. A very common recipe is making salads and dips using sweet potato.
  4. The sweet potato may also be steam boiled. It tastes delicious, along with some butter and mayonnaise.
  5. Another very tasty recipe includes making a sweet potato soup, with additives like garlic, meat and other spices. This may be had with garlic bread.

Storage
As opposed to most of the other vegetables, sweet potato should not be kept in the refrigerator, as it negatively affects the taste. It should be kept out of the refrigerator, but in a cool, shady and dry place. It should also be well aerated, that is it should be well exposed to air. The temperature should not, however, exceed around 60 degrees F. It would be best if kept in root cellars, but as this is not very common in most homes, thus, it would suffice to keep it loose in a cool dark place. You should not put it into a plastic bag, as it should be well ventilated. Also, make sure that it is not stored near any heat sources.

Medicinal Values
Sweet potato has many medicinal benefits, many of which are totally unknown to the common people. Some of them are listed below:

  1. It has a high content of beta carotene, a major source of Vitamin A, which helps immunize your system, and also cures many diseases, including heart diseases and arthritis. It also helps to cure asthma, and other chronic diseases. It also reduces chances of cancer in organs and glands.
  2. Sweet potato is known to be possibly the richest low fat sources of Vitamin E. It also has a lot of Vitamin C, which is good for your bones and teeth, and Vitamin B1 and B6.
  3. It also has many vital minerals necessary for the human body, like manganese, sodium, potassium, iron and copper.
  4. It is a very good anti-oxidant, as also an anti-inflammatory. It helps in curing urinary disorders.
  5. It is also one of the best possible food that can be included in the diet of a diabetic.
  6. Sweet potatoes also have a rich content of cartenoids, which helps in stabilising your blood sugar levels. It also makes your cell much more responsive to insulin, and thus it helps in the overall metabolism of the body.
  7. Sweet potato is very good for low blood pressure patients.
  8. It helps in curing colon infections as well as stomach ulcers.

Where to Buy Sweet Potato in USA
Sweet potato is commonly known as yams in North America, and is harvested in a lot of places. It is most commonly grown in North Carolina. Louisiana also produces around 20.3% of the total US production of sweet potatoes.

Nutritional and Dietary information
Sweet potato is very rich in natural minerals and vitamins. It contains the following:

  1. It contains a large percentage of Vitamin A. Your daily requirement for this vitamin can be fulfilled from this vegetable alone.
  2. It also contains Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, which are rich in Vitamin B1, B2 and B3 respectively.
  3. It is also rich in Vitamin C.
  4. It contains minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorous in ample quantities.
  5. It also has trace quantities of fats and proteins.
  6. It has a low calorific value.
  7. It is rich in carbohydrate, providing energy to your body.
  8. Thus, it is often termed as a super food, due to the rich content of nutrients. Make sure you have this vegetable on a daily basis.
Nutrition Facts
Servings Size 200gm
Calories 180
Sodium 3%
Total Carbohydrate 14%
Dietary Fiber 26%
Sugars 13.0 g
Vitamin A 769%
Vitamin C 65%
Calcium 8%
Iron 8%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because it has not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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