What’s in Season: Sweet Potatoes by Emily Weeks, RDN, LD

Often served at Thanksgiving and during the holidays, sweet potatoes are an incredibly versatile starchy root vegetable. Not only are they delicious in many dishes, but they are very nutritious. Sweet potatoes can be eaten steamed, roasted, puréed, and baked into breads and pies.

What’s in Season: Sweet Potatoes

Nutritional Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

One cup of sweet potatoes contains six grams of fiber, and over 700% the daily value of vitamin A. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, manganese, B6, and potassium. Sweet potatoes are also rich in antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals. Excess free radicals in the body can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. Eating more foods rich in antioxidants, like sweet potatoes, can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and inflammation in the body.
The fiber in sweet potatoes can help keep the digestive tract healthy by promoting regularity. Those with diabetes can benefit from eating sweet potatoes, as the fiber can also slow the absorption of sugar from meals and improve blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. A diet high in fiber can also help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.
Sweet potatoes can be a delicious part of a lower-carbohydrate diet, with 27 grams of carbohydrates per one cup serving. Pair sweet potatoes with a lean protein source such as chicken or seafood to help slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the body.
The Best Time to Buy Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are typically harvested in late August to early November. They're available in stores year-round, but are most flavorful in late fall and winter months. When buying sweet potatoes, choose medium sized potatoes that feel heavy for their size, without bruises or sprouts. Store unwashed sweet potatoes in the pantry or in a cool, dark place for a week. Keeping them any longer increases the change of sprouting. Never refrigerate sweet potatoes as they’ll become too hard to cook.
Sweet potatoes can also be found canned and frozen. Avoid canned sweet potatoes as they’re often packed in syrup with added sugar. Frozen sweet potatoes are usually peeled and diced and are great for roasting. They will be more expensive, however. The best bang for your buck is buying fresh sweet potatoes.
You can find sweet potatoes with both orange and purple flesh. Purple sweet potatoes are harder to find and have a creamy rich flavor. They are also more dry than orange sweet potatoes, so moist cooking methods like steaming or boiling will help add back moisture.

Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes
Most recipes call for peeling sweet potatoes before cooking. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable scrub brush and gently rinse with water before peeling. Once peeled, sweet potatoes can be diced and roasted and tossed with olive oil and salt. Or slice into thin strips or wedges for easy sweet potato fries. Boiled sweet potatoes are delicious whipped with a little bit of butter and milk. Or leave the skin on and bake for a delicious baked sweet potato. Top with cinnamon and butter.
Want to try some new ways to make sweet potatoes? Try these recipes!

 Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lemon-Dill Yogurt Sauce


 Sweet Chilig Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, and Broccoli

 Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup


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