Vitamins and Minerals
Found Inside Yams and Sweet Potatoes
Yams and sweet potatoes are not the
same. Although sweet potatoes are often
called yams in North America, botanically the two are
Where sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients our
bodies seek, yams have far less nutrients (and are not grown in
Canada or the United States).
Here are a few of the questions we attempt to answer
about Yams and about sweet
- What vitamins in sweet potatoes and yams
make them so good for us?
- What is the best method for juicing sweet potatoes
- What are some great buying tips for sweet potatoes
Plus, we'll do our best to provide some general information
about sweet potatoes and about yams that you
might not find so easily elsewhere on the Internet.
Let's learn more about sweet potatoes and
Vitamins and Minerals
in Sweet Potatoes and Yams
Sweet potatoes are probably best known for being loaded
with beta carotene as they are among the best sources of the
nutrient in the vegetable world, but they also can be a great
source of many other nutrients, unlike the yam which
contains little to no beta carotene or Vitamin A.
In fact, some call the sweet potato as close to
perfect as a single food can be. Some people have been
known to subsist on them alone with little or no known vitamin
or mineral deprivation.
Interestingly enough, the sweet potato is not related to the
common white potato either. In their own right, however, sweet
potatoes are highly nutritious, and their rich, sweet flavor
belies their humble origins as a New World plant that was
introduced to Europeans by Columbus and other explorers.
The sweet potato is very low in saturated fat and
cholesterol. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin
B6, potassium and manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin
A. As sweet potatoes are far more nutrient dense than yams, I'm
going to list its nutritional make-up here instead of the
Vitamins in Sweet Potatoes
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Pantothenic Acid
- Trace amounts of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, and
Minerals in Sweet Potatoes
Did you know that some people also eat sweet potato greens
(leaves)? Sweet potato leaves are incredibly rich in nutrients
as well as low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in
cholesterol making them a perfect food to aid in weight
Sweet potato greens are also a good source of Protein,
Niacin, Calcium and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary
Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6,
Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.
The next time you think about sweet potatoes... think about
how they might add a powerful boost to your daily nutrition
Tips for Juicing Sweet
Juicing sweet potatoes can add both flavor and valuable
nutrients to most any home-juiced vegetable cocktail. Here are
a few tips for juicing sweet potatoes that may help turn your
juicing experience into something you look forward to and
After carefully cleaning sweet potatoes, cut them into
chunks that fit nicely in your juicer. You want to juice them
with the skin in tact.
The rich, orange juice from sweet potatoes mixes well with
other vegetables, particularly carrot juice.
Mixing carrot and sweet potato juice is extremely beneficial
to the complexion. About 6 carrots combined with one (1-inch)
slice of sweet potato will do... tastes delicious!
Try bell pepper, kale, spinach, turnip greens, and sweet
potato for anti-aging and general skin pick-me-ups.
To enjoy an enzyme high without a nasty hangover, one avid
juicer juices 2 pears, 3 pink grapefruit, and 1 sweet potato to
create what he calls "Flying Grapefruit
Juice." I've never tried it, but it does sound
like it would have a powerful kick!
for Buying Sweet Potatoes (also known as Yams)
If you are unable to grow your own sweet potatoes, then here
are a few tips for buying them which may help you get the
freshest ingredients. We'll also include a few storing tips for
sweet potatoes which you might find helpful.
Immediately after harvesting, sweet potatoes are cured --
stored at about 85 degrees F for 4 to 6 days -- to increase
their sweetness and decrease the danger of spoiling.
Buy plump sweet potatoes that are firm, medium-size, and
taper at the ends. Their color should be good and you want to
avoid any with cuts or bruises.
Sweet potatoes spoil quickly, and any that have moldy spots
or are shriveled should be thrown away. Cutting away the bad
spots does not always help, because an unpleasant flavor may
have already spread to the rest of the potato.
To prevent spoiling, store sweet potatoes in a cool place
but not in the refrigerator. Temperatures below 50 degrees F
will give them a hard core and an off taste.
Since their skins are very thin, sweet potatoes should be
treated gently. If peeling is necessary, it is easily done
after they are cooked.
About Sweet Potatoes and About Yams
This article wouldn't be complete if we didn't
include a little general information about both sweet
potatoes and Yams, as well as a few helpful links if you
want to explore either of them further.
Although many varieties of sweet potato are
marketed as yams in the United States, true yams are native to
Africa and are seldom seen in this country.
Growing up to 100 pounds, yams are much larger
than sweet potatoes and not as rich in vitamins. Yams are,
however, a good source of potassium and starch and are a
carbohydrate staple in parts of Africa and Asia.
Yams are still important for survival in Africa. The tubers
can be stored up to six months without refrigeration, which
makes them a valuable resource for the yearly period of food
scarcity at the beginning of the wet season.
The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet
potato also includes several garden flowers called morning
glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea
batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as
Sweet potatoes are actually native to the
tropical parts of South America, and were domesticated there at
least 5000 years ago.
Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the
Cook Islands to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was
brought to central Polynesia circa 700 AD, possibly by
Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, and
spread across Polynesia to Hawaii and New Zealand from
Sweet potatoes are very sensitive to aluminium
toxicity and will die about 6 weeks after planting if lime is
not applied at planting in this type of soil.
Sweet potatoes can replace white potatoes and
pumpkins in a number of recipes, and mashed sweet potatoes with
defatted broth or grated orange peel is a vitamin-packed side
Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh
have more beta carotene than those with light colored
Sweet potatoes are most frequently boiled,
fried, or baked. They can also be processed to make starch and
a partial flour substitute.
Sweet potato leaves are a common side dish in
Taiwanese cuisine, often boiled with garlic and vegetable oil
and dashed with salt before serving.
In Malaysia, sweet potato is often cut into
small cubes and cooked with yam and coconut milk (santan) to
make a sweet dessert called bubur caca.
In South America, the juice of red sweet
potatoes is combined with lime juice to make a dye for
Sweet potatoes or camotes are often found in
Moche ceramics (dating back to around 300 A.D.).
Sources/Resources for Sweet Potatoes and Yams
Be sure to check out both our
"Juicing" and our "Smoothies"
sections for delicious recipes and more using