Have you noticed these days that sweet potatoes have taken center stage? You wouldn’t guess going to the grocery store because the potato aisle is still filled with all sorts of potatoes of all varieties, mostly white, gold, or red. But have you noticed that the only bin that’s consistently running low is the sweet potatoes? I have. There isn’t a trip to the store that I take that doesn’t include either seeing the sweet potato bin almost empty or being restocked.
Why is it that sweet potatoes have become such a staple in the healthy eating world? Although sweet potatoes and all others share the word “potato”, they are only distantly related. A sweet potato is from the morning glory family, while other potatoes are from the nightshade family. And for many people, nightshades contribute to inflammation in the body. If you don’t know what a nightshade is, read my article, “What is a Nightshade?” to learn more.
Both white and sweet potatoes have solid nutritional value and could be used in a well-balanced diet. However, if you are trying to avoid nightshades, remember that white potatoes are a part of that family of foods.
Ironically, the sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, so people who need to watch their sugar intake will benefit from choosing sweet potatoes instead of white ones.
But did you know that a yam is officially something entirely different than a sweet potato. However, here in the United Sates, you might here people use the word yam interchangeably with a sweet potato.
According to North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission:
A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene.
Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple. The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the United States several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”
Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Despite the label regulations, most people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity.
To dig a little deeper, feel free to check out the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission’s article on yams, “What Is The Difference Between A Sweet Potato And A Yam?”.
So if you haven’t given sweet potatoes much food for thought, maybe it’s time to consider adding them to your meal table.
ROASTED SWEET POTATO FRIES
- 2–3 large sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Peel and cut sweet potatoes into sticks.*
- Toss in bowl with oil and starch.
- Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.**
*If you rinse your sweet potatoes, make sure they are completely dry before tossing in the starch and oil.
**Parchment paper is essential in order for fries to not stick to the baking sheet.