Benefits of Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin A (438% of your daily value!!), Vitamin C (37% DV) and the antioxidant beta carotene. In fact, sweet potatoes contain more beta carotene than any other fruit or vegetable! They also contain calcium, B6, potassium and protein
Low glycemic index
The high fiber and high water content of sweet potatoes leaves you feeling full and satisfied for a VERY long time and have less of an effect on blood sugar levels (when compared to wh.ite potatoes).
Inexpensive and versatile
If you like the more traditional sweet potato, simply bake and eat whole or mashed with a little bit of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter (in moderation!). For a little change of pace, I suggest trying them in smoothies, baked goods (including pancakes), in a salad or stuffed with beans and salsa (see recipes below).
Naturally a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrate
Unless you're buying the powdered version (I wouldn't recommend it), sweet potatoes are a great whole food source of compex carbohydrate and naturally gluten free.
Ideal for athletes
Sweet potatoes are great for athletes because, again, they're a nutrient-dense source of complex carbohydrates, which is ideal for long-lasting energy. Since they have a low-glycemic index, they digest slowly and prevent spikes in blood glucose, helping you to feel energized without "crashing" later. They're also a source of iron (4% DV in 1 serving), which assists with optimal oxygen production during workouts and potassium and calcium aid in muscle contraction. Finally, the high antioxidant content of sweet potatoes will help protect against the inflammatory effects of exercise and assist in muscle recovery.
Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato
1 cooked sweet potato
1 cup edamame (w/o shell)
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup corn
1 can black beans
Toppings: Avocado, Salsa, Taco seasoning (low-sodium)
Optional: Cheese, Plain Greek Yogurt
Warm a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and saute onion/garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except sweet potato, avocado and salsa) and saute another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with taco seasoning to taste. Add 1/2-1 cup topping to each sweet potato and add diced avocado and salsa to taste. For a little smaller portion, use just 1/2 sweet potato. Like I said, they're quite filling!!
I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about sweet potatoes and will incorporate more of it into your menu this next week! For additional recipe ideas, check out the links below:
Chicken Stir Fry w/ Sweet Potatoes and Hoisin Sauce by Tosca Reno
(Make vegetarian/vegan by substituting tofu)
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Taco by She's Cookin'
Clean Eating Sweet Potato Casserole by The Gracious Pantry
Apple Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes by Country Cleaver
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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