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A Yam a Day

May 11, 2013

By Joan McDaniel                                May 11, 2013

I don’t know about eating a Yam-a-Day, but it is certainly has more vitamins like Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A), B vitamins, and Potassium then the other One-A-Day advertised product.



A sweet potato provides a natural source for vitamins and is certainly better absorbed by the body. Now I am not talking about the candied yam like the one anticipated at Thanksgiving dinner.  I mean a plain boiled, baked or steamed Sweet Potato.  The Sweet potato is sweet enough on its own. And if you keep the skin on, it is also high in fiber.  The sweet potato is a starch and a carb but a vegetable carb. There are good carbs and bad carbs.  Wheat both white and brown bread, rice, white or brown are considered bad carbs and Vegetable carbs are considered good carbs.


I mean a simple boiled or steamed Yam.

Blood Sugar Benefits

The Sweet Potato is not only considered a good carb it is actually good for blood sugar regulation. Many people think about starchy root vegetables as a food group that could not possibly be helpful for controlling their blood sugar. That’s because many people realize that food starches can be converted by our digestive tract into simple sugars. If foods are especially concentrated in starch, there can often be a risk of too much simple sugar release in our digestive tract and too much pressure upon our bloodstream to uptake more sugar. (The result in this situation would be an overly quick elevation of our blood sugar level.) What’s fascinating about sweet potatoes is their ability to actually improve blood sugar regulation—even in persons with type 2 diabetes.

Also note it is important to consume 3-5 grams of saturated or poly-saturated fat along with your sweet potato to reduce the carb and increase the full beta-carotene benefit. Include a fat like Olive-oil, coconut oil or other good fat.

White Potato is good but not as good as the Sweet Potato

The white potato is a good carb also but a little light when it comes to vitamins.  Whether mashed, baked or roasted, people often consider potatoes as comfort food. It is an important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world. Potatoes are available year-round as they are harvested somewhere every month of the year.

The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. Potatoes are called tubers for they form a part of the root system under the soil.

When you compare the benefits of the sweet potato vs. the white potato the sweet potato wins hands down.

White Potato vs Sweet Potato

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Higher Fiber twice as much fiber as other types of potatoes.

Nutrition  Daily Value % 1 Cup

White Potato                         Sweet Potato

Fiber               15%                                   29%

Manganese    19%                                   28% Great antioxidant plus

Potassium     26%                                   15% helps lower blood pressure

Vitamin A      —                                   438%   Beta Carotene

Vitamin B6   27%                                   61% helps keep walls of blood vessels flexible for healthy blood flow.

Vitamin C      28%                                 37% Rich in Vitamin E also

Some Sweet potato History

Sweet potatoes are native to Central America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They have been consumed since prehistoric times as evidenced by sweet potato relics dating back 10,000 years that have been discovered in Peruvian caves.

Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. By the 16th century, they were brought to the Philippines by Spanish explorers and to Africa, India, Indonesia and southern Asia by the Portuguese.

The Sweet Potato was introduced and grown in the Southern United States during the Civil War. George Washington Carver and the Tuskegee Institute, introduced the peanut plus other cash crops like the sweet potato to be cultivated in the south to replace the soil destroying cotton.  It not only provided revenue, but a nutritional loaded food for the farmer to support their selves.  The sweet potato is popular in the south to this day. The Americans gave the name “yam” to the orange-fleshed American grown sweet potato to distinguish it from other sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are a featured food in many Asian and Latin American cultures. Today, the main commercial producers of sweet potatoes include China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, India and Uganda.

The Sweet Potato has over a thousand species

The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between beige, brown, orange, purple, red and yellow. Its flesh ranges from beige through orange, pink, purple, red, violet, white, and yellow. Sweet potato varieties with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh. Also note; the fresher the potato is the softer the skin.  A potato fresh from the farmer’s field is soft, a potato that has been sitting in a bin for some time is hard and tough to eat.

sweet potato variety

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvuaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable.  The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens.  You cannot eat the white potatoes plants leaves but you can eat the sweet potatoes. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and does not belong to the nightshade family.

sweet potato vineSouth Carolina Sweet potato Vine

sweet potato flower

The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories.

Some suggestions.

–         Sweet potatoes don’t have to take a long time to prepare. Cutting them into 1/2-inch slices and Healthy Steaming them for just 7 minutes not only brings out their great flavor but helps to maximize their nutritional value. And you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cloves for extra flavor and nutrition.

–         It is important to consume 3-5 grams of saturated or poly-unsaturated fat along with your sweet potato to reduce the carb and increase the full beta-carotene benefit. Include a fat like Olive-oil, coconut oil or other good fat.

–         Steaming is the Healthiest Way to cook the sweet potato, but boiling or roasting have shown to also have good blood sugar effects.

–         The Sweet potato is an excellent source of fiber if eaten with the skin on but the fresher the potato is the softer the skin.  A potato fresh from a farmer’s field is soft, a potato that has been sitting in a bin for some time is hard and tough to eat.

A Special note about George Washington Carver  George-Washington-Carver-1

Picture credit

George Washington Carver is famous for the introduction of the peanut as a profitable cash crop in the south to replace cotton.  Growing Cotton destroyed the soil and to be profitable more and more land had to be planted.  But what has been forgotten is – he also introduced other cash crops such as soybeans and the sweet potato.  These crops allowed the newly freed slave to grow their own nutritional loaded food and support themselves by farming a cash crop.

Brief history of George Washington Carver

His exact birthday is not known, he is believed to have been born into slavery in Missouri in January 1864.  He died on January 5, 1943.  What is known about Carver, is his reputation and invention and research into farming and growing crops. In 1896 Booker T. Washington first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute invited Carver to head its Agriculture Department.  Carver taught there for 47 years, He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton, initiated research into crop products (chemurgy), and taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

Videos from food channel

Sweet potatoes – nutritional powerhouses—-nutritional-powerhouses.html

Sweet potatoes in the developing world


  1. Well Thank You for your kind remarks. I have found cooking it with a herb like rosemary or better yet a cinnamon stick gives it a great taste.

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