Sweet pota­to — Tuber from South America

Sweet pota­toes — Although their name may lead one to believe that sweet pota­toes are a sweet­er form of pota­toes, this is not the case. In fact, the sweet pota­to is not a pota­to, but a sep­a­rate veg­etable that does not resem­ble the pota­to in shape, taste or ori­gin. Apart from the fact that sweet pota­toes, like pota­toes, grow under­ground, the two veg­eta­bles have noth­ing else in common. 

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of the sweet potato

The sweet pota­to is a spin­dle-shaped root with a white-yel­low to dark orange pulp core encased in a brown-red skin. It belongs to the botan­i­cal fam­i­ly of the bindweed and is thus not relat­ed to the pota­to. The two veg­eta­bles also dif­fer in taste, as the sweet pota­to, as its name sug­gests, tastes sweet. This is main­ly due to the sug­ar content. 

Orig­i­nal­ly, the sweet pota­to comes from Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca. In the 16th cen­tu­ry, Christo­pher Colum­bus brought it to Spain. There, how­ev­er, it was ini­tial­ly con­sid­ered a poor man’s food and was there­fore only eat­en by the low­er class­es. How­ev­er, as time went on and it became known that it had an aphro­disi­ac and poten­cy-enhanc­ing effect, the upper class­es also devel­oped an inter­est in the South Amer­i­can tuber. The tuber quick­ly gained pop­u­lar­i­ty and became more and more well-known — even out­side of Spain. Today, sweet pota­toes are main­ly grown in South Amer­i­ca, Israel, Spain, Por­tu­gal and Italy, because they feel more com­fort­able in trop­i­cal warm cli­mates. Since they have to be import­ed to Ger­many, they are avail­able here all year round.

The ingre­di­ents of the sweet potato

Accord­ing to the Cen­ter for Sci­ence in the Pub­lic Inter­est, sweet pota­to is the most nutri­ent-dense veg­etable of all. In 100 grams are: 

  • 600 µg iron 
  • 300 µg zinc 
  • 55mg sodi­um 
  • 337mg potas­si­um 
  • 25 mg magnesium 
  • 30 mg calcium 

In addi­tion, sweet pota­to is a good source of vit­a­mins: It is rich in vit­a­mins A, C, E and the B‑complex vit­a­mins. Just 100 grams of sweet pota­toes cov­er one third of an adult’s dai­ly vit­a­min E require­ment. The tuber owes its col­or to cer­tain sec­ondary plant sub­stances, while its sweet taste comes from fruc­tose and glu­cose. Since sweet pota­toes con­tain more glu­cose than fruc­tose, even fruc­tose-intol­er­ant peo­ple can eat the veg­etable with­out concern. 

The sweet pota­to has more car­bo­hy­drates and fiber than the con­ven­tion­al pota­to, but you still do not need to be afraid of gain­ing weight, because the sweet pota­to has just 84 kilo­calo­ries per 100 grams. 


The effect of sweet pota­to on our body

Sweet pota­to makes our body glow both from the out­side and from the inside: Thanks to the vit­a­min E it con­tains, our cells age more slow­ly and our skin looks firmer and fresh­er. In addi­tion, due to their high fiber and car­bo­hy­drate con­tent, sweet pota­toes keep us full longer and make blood lev­els rise more slow­ly. In com­bi­na­tion with mag­ne­sium, potas­si­um con­trols our heart mus­cle and thus not only strength­ens our heart func­tions, but also sta­bi­lizes our high blood pres­sure at the same time. This reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The vit­a­mins also strength­en our immune sys­tem. In addi­tion, the South Amer­i­can tuber can relieve stress symp­toms and improve digestion. 

The sweet pota­to in the kitchen

Every year, the sweet pota­to is tra­di­tion­al­ly served with turkey in Amer­i­can house­holds at Thanks­giv­ing. But there is much more to the tuber: sliced, toast­ed and topped with cream cheese and avo­ca­do, for exam­ple, it offers a healthy alter­na­tive to toast. It also looks good in soups and sal­ads. Thanks to its sweet taste, it can also be eas­i­ly used to make a cake. It can also be used as a sub­sti­tute for pota­toes: boiled, fried, mashed or baked. For exam­ple, you can make deli­cious sweet pota­to fries. 

Buy­ing and stor­ing sweet potatoes 

Unlike pota­toes, fresh sweet pota­toes do not keep as long. Prop­er­ly stored, they can last up to three weeks. For this, they must be stored in a cool, dry and dark room. The refrig­er­a­tor is not suit­able for the tubers, unless they are cooked before­hand. Then you can eas­i­ly keep them in a cov­ered con­tain­er in the refrig­er­a­tor for 4 to 5 days. To get the most out of your sweet pota­to, make sure that the skin of the tuber is intact and has no rot­ten spots or shoots — oth­er­wise the veg­etable will rot faster than you think. 


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