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  • Writer's pictureErin Stefanacci

Functional Foods: Sweet Potatoes

By Christine “Cricket” Giles, M.S., B.S., Certified Nutrition Consultant, Health & Wellness Coach

Did you know that the state of North Carolina is the most prominent growers of sweet potatoes in the United States? They are harvested in September and October and reach peak flavor around Thanksgiving, no wonder they are a staple food for this holiday! Even though we associate sweet potatoes with this holiday, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat them all year round. Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and can help regulate blood sugar.

Nutrient Content of Sweet Potatoes: 

Have you ever heard the term “superfood”? Sweet potatoes are often described as a superfood and for good reason. Sweet potatoes contain different properties that provide them with their health benefits. There are about 400 varieties and not all of them are orange in color. However, orange sweet potatoes are among the most popular and their color is mainly due to their plant pigment beta-carotene. Other sweet potato varieties can be blue/ purple in color as well as white/ cream and pink. Therefore, certain varieties also contain anthocyanins. If you read the article on Functional Foods: Blueberries, then you remember that anthocyanin is found in fruits and vegetables with the purple, red, and blue pigments. For more in-depth information on the nutrient content of sweet potatoes, see the Nutrition Facts label below and what they can help protect and how they can aid the body in functioning properly:

Most of the nutrients in sweet potatoes come from their skin. The skin has nearly ten times the antioxidant power as the flesh, which is comparable to the antioxidant capacity of blueberries! However, to receive these benefits it is best to cook them by boiling them, otherwise, about two-thirds of the nutrient content is lost. Nevertheless, as with any food, the best way to cook it is the way you’re going to consume the most of it. See below for the world’s best sweet potato fries recipe.

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 large Sweet Potato

  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil

  • 1/2 tsp Salt

  • 1/2 tsp Cumin

  • 1/2 tsp Paprika

  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric

Preheat oven to 375. Slice sweet potatoes into "fries" of your preferred size. Mix the fries, oil, and spices together. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until soft. If you prefer a crispier fry, after they are soft place them under the broiler on high for 3 - 5 minutes. Enjoy!

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