Nourishing Flourishing

Sweet Potatoes: One of The Healthiest Foods You Can Eat (Here’s Why!)

16 May

Ok, I know everyone and their mom has posted on sweet potato fries — I readily admit that I’m not trying to be wildly inventive here. But, I also know that there are some readers out there who haven’t heard about such wonders, and maybe even some bloggie vets that don’t know all the reasons sweet potatoes are stanking good for you. (Ok, this isn’t going to be that comprehensive, but still.) I definitely didn’t, until I researched it a few months ago. Having stockpiled an abundance of these orange ‘taters in the past week as if the apocalypse were coming tomorrow — did I mention how insanely cheap these are? –, I figured now would be a great time to make a dent in the tuber stores, and share some fun factoids while I’m at it.

This isn’t really a recipe — it’s just a method (and one that probably 80 million people have already tried, soo… Sorry for the lack of ingenuity here.)

Sweet Potato Fries

1) Chop sweet potatoes in half, again and again, until they are the about the shape and size of fries (you don’t want them too skinny though, or they’ll burn. Sad face.).
2) Spray with cooking oil, or toss in extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat) and place on a baking pan.
3) Generously douse with salt. (Or sprinkle. You know. Whatever you want.)
4) Place in an oven at about 425* (I get impatient and do 450* often, admittedly — higher chance of burning, but also higher chance for crispiness/crunch…), and once the underside browns, flip or just stir ‘em. Once they are browned to your liking, they’re done!

Fun Fact #1: Sweet potatoes are a cheap way to access major antioxidants. Usually, we tend to associate antioxidants (those cancer-fighting, cell-healing little awesomes) with really expensive, trendy things like acai, dark chocolate, red wine, and berries. Some of us know that dark leafy greens have ‘em too, but sweet potatoes tend to be (really) cheap by the pound, more satiating, and a more efficient means of assimilating these nutrients, particularly beta-carotene.

Fun Fact #2: Eating a sweet potato is basically like taking a multivitamin of amazing health power. Well, ok, maybe I’m being a little generous here. It’s almost like doing that. One small sweet potato will provide you with about 250% of Vitamin A (an antioxidant — great for eyes, immune system, bones, teeth, and more), about 30% of Vitamin C (another antioxidant, assists with healthy immune system, skin, lowers risk of stroke), another 30% or so of Manganese (a mineral that assists with vital functions in the nervous system, reproductive system, and metabolism, as well as yet another antioxidant), and a little under 15% of Copper, dietary fiber, and Vitamin B6. Not to mention it’s a decent source of Iron and Potassium.

White, starchy, nutritionally-negligible cousin, you lose. Sorry.

Fun Fact #3: Sweet potatoes are an excuse to eat fat. Seriously! Of course, I wouldn’t take this overboard, but you genuinely need to eat fat with sweet potatoes in order to assimilate all the nutrients you can. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe just a small drizzle of olive oil; though I like to stretch this rule from time to time (aka, when I eat sweet potato fries from restaurants : ) In addition, adding some fat and protein to your sweet potato will help lower the glycemic index, allowing for a more gradual insulin response. This prevents the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes, as well as fat storage in dangerous areas like the stomach (particularly scary because of its relationship with heart disease, and the threat fat in this area poses to your organs).

Fun Fact #4: Despite the blood-sugar skyrocketing effect of white potatoes, sweet potatoes are beneficial for regulating insulin response! Basically, sweet potatoes are world’s apart from their cousin in this respect because they contain so much fiber. If you’re diabetic, you know that fiber is your friend; it helps to keep your insulin response level so that your pancreas doesn’t have to endure the abuse of a roller-coaster ride. In addition, sweet potatoes contain a protein hormone Type 2 diabetics have lower levels of, which allows for a more even metabolization process. Win!

Fun Fact #5: Sweet potatoes can act as an anti-inflammatory. If you have an autoimmune disease or disorder (holla!), you probably know why this is an important quality.Antioxidant properties play a significant role in the repair of our tissues (random: sweet potatoes, if damaged, will heal themselves using their antioxidants — that is such a logical, but still impressive, illustration of the power of their nutrients!), but anti-inflammatory properties not only reduce the inflamed tissue, but also prevent them from flaring up again. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities are of especial interest, perhaps, to those with digestive issues and diseases, because the intestine absorbs all these chemicals (and thus their benefits) directly.

Fun Fact #6: Sweet potatoes are delicious. Ok. This might not count. Buuut. It’s true. Here’s another way I like to get my sweet potato crack fix nutrients… Cinnamon (Un)Sugar Dessert Hummus:

For more information, this is a great resource that offers more detail on the benefits of sweet potatoes. It has plenty of medical journal articles to peruse, if you’re into that sort of thing ; ) I always fact-check using this website, because I find it to be well-researched and copious in referencing the sources. Highly recommended!

What are your favorite sweet potato recipes?

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56 Responses to “Sweet Potatoes: One of The Healthiest Foods You Can Eat (Here’s Why!)”

  1. Tessa @ Amazing Asset May 16, 2011 at 5:43 am #

    I never get tired of hearing about sweet potatoes… they are definitely one of my favorite foods! I actually didn’t know that eating them with fat helps absorption of the nutrients, thank you for that info :)
    I pretty much lived on sweet potatoes last year and I would enjoy them very simple- baked with Greek Yogurt and cinnamon. I am looking to try other recipes, so I am going to return to this page to see what others say…clearly I need some new ideas haha :D

  2. Pure2raw twins May 16, 2011 at 5:44 am #

    good think I love sweet potatoes!!! lately I have been steaming them, mashing them in my salads, so good. And your hummus looks amazing.

  3. Matt @ The Athlete's Plate May 16, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    I love sweet potatoes, but white potatoes aren’t going to kill ya ;) They have their place.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing May 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      True enough. I just prefer sweet potatoes — my body doesn’t respond well to white potatoes at all. And if I can get more nutrition from the orange spuds, I’ll opt for that :) To each his and her own.

  4. Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa May 16, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    We love sweet potatoes in our house! Fries are a favorite, but we also love our sweet potato and black bean burritos. Yesterday I baked one and topped it off with some coconut butter. Delish!

  5. Ben May 16, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I love sweet potatoes! Thanks for sharing their benefits with us.

  6. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat May 16, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I like to slice them super thin and bake them into “chips”. It’s hard to find the balance of cooking them at a high enough temperature to make them crispy but not burn them.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing May 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

      Me too — so good! A little quicker than fries too :) Yes, I tend to have a few burned ones every time. Such is life!

  7. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen May 16, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    My fav is definitely just the simple “fry” method you have up top. So good :) I always make sure I have at least 2 sweet potatoes in the house at all times. They’re my go to side when I can’t think of anything else.

  8. Holly @ The Runny Egg May 16, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I love sweet potatoes. My mother in law is “giving” me 1/2 of her garden space to grow sweet potatoes :) She laughed when I told her that is all I want to grow. I could eat them every day and never get sick of them.

    I prefer them baked, then topped with some butter or olive oil and cinnamon. Or, lately I’ve been loving them with mashed banana and mashed avocado on top. It is so delicious!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing May 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

      That is so sweet of your MIL! I told my husband all I wanted us to grow was kale and spinach :) He didn’t go for it, but we have more kale than we can handle right now!

  9. Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food May 16, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Oh my heavens, I love sweet potatoes and all of those dishes look AMAZING! :)

    Sweet potato fries are usually the only actually fried food that I eat (although I like them baked as well) I definitely use them as an excuse to eat fat! :P

  10. Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers May 16, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I love sweet potatoes! I often have a giant one for dinner – no toppings, no sides, just deliciousnesssss! I also like s.p. fries, but I prefer homemade ones to restaurant versions. Great post!

  11. Jessica May 16, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    I have a real problem with eating sweet potatoes.. I have no idea why other than I think I just have some mental block when it comes to eating something sweet for what should be a savory meal. I don’t like baked beans either.. but love every other bean.. it’s the sweetness.

    I’m probably alone on that one but I had to share.

  12. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) May 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Sweet potatoes are seriously amazing! I had my first Korean and Japanese sweet potatoes a couple of months ago…and seriously, I thought I died and went to heaven! I love them in my oats too. They are just such jewels of the earth!

  13. Erin @ Big Girl Feats May 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    I love me some sweet tater fries. I remember the first time I made them and was blown away by their taste. I also had sweet potato slaw (raw) this weekend at Kripalu and it was sooo.goooddd! I might have to recreate soon. xo!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing May 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

      I keep hearing about sweet potato slaw — whaaa?! Sounds delicioso! Hope you had a great time — I was thinking about you! <3

  14. Jess (Sweet Potato) May 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Ah sweet potatoes. Sometimes I think my husband gets a little jealous of my love affair with them ;)

  15. Lisa May 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I LOVE sweet potatoes! Once I started eating them (sadly just last year!) I was converted. I almost never eat white potatoes now.

  16. Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy May 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    I’m admittedly late to sweet potato fry party, but man am I glad to be here.

  17. everyday oats May 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    I lovee sweet potatoes!! It’s a good thing they’re good for me :)

    Btw…your dessert hummus looks ahhmazing!

  18. Amanda @ Running with Spoons May 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Well thank you for making me crave sweet potatoes like crazy ;) I absolutely love these delicious orange spuds. My favorite way to eat them would probably be in fry form with ketchup or hummus for dipping, or baked and slathered with maple syrup and almond butter.

  19. Will May 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    I’ve been told my Internet scribblin’s are similar to yours. I must say I am quite flattered. (No telling how you’ll feel, of course.) As to the content of this particular post, I’ve never had sweet potatoes outside of the context of something with marshmallows and nuts. Probably need to try the fries that everyone is so crazy about.

    Speaking of fries, are you familiar with the Peas of Mind veggie fries? They. Are. The. Best.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing May 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

      Hi Will! I’ll have to check your scratchings out :) If you haven’t had sweet potatoes other than as a dessert, a great transition into the “healthier” end of sweet potato glory is the dessert hummus. Seriously, it is bomb! And yes, the fries are amazing — please, please go make them. Now.

      No, don’t know about the Peas of Mind fries — will have to look those up!

  20. Parita May 16, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite veggies! I dream of sweet potato fries regularly! Thanks for sharing all these great reasons to consume more of it! :)

  21. McKayla @ Green Groats May 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Such an informative post! I LOVE sweet potato fries.

    I’ve got to try your sweet potato dessert hummus recipes! Cinnamon and sweet potatos is a great combo!

  22. Jen May 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    There was actually a time I wouldn’t eat sweet potatoes. I think back and tear up over the time I missed out ;) I adore them now…and sweet potato fries=happiness :)

  23. Mariah@Apples"N"Oats May 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    sweet tater fries are my favorite!they are just so darn delicious I can never believe that they are actually good for me!

  24. Katie May 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    i LOVE sweet potatoes…they’re totally a superfood and i substitute them for regular potatoes whenever possible…which is most of the time

  25. Emma (Namaste Everyday) May 17, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    I LOVE SWEET POTATOES!!! I love making mashed sweet potatoes, but lately, I have been digging the most convenient recipe for me. I’m a crazy-busy college girl with no time, money, or acceptable appliances, so I dig the sweet potato sliced in half lengthwise, then cooked in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. it does the job!

  26. Jenny (Fit Girl Foodie) May 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    I love making sweet tatter fries, I honestly think they taste better than regular fries. I need to try them in my oats tho :D

  27. January 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Omg this looks so good!!! sweet potato fries are my favorite. Classic comfort meal!

  28. loida Lazaro February 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Thnaks for that enlightening info about Sweet Potatoes.

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