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Vitamins and Minerals Found Inside Yams and Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato - Ruddy cultivarYams and sweet potatoes are not the same. Although sweet potatoes are often called yams in North America, botanically the two are not related.

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 potatoes.

  • What vitamins in sweet potatoes and yams make them so good for us?
  • What is the best method for juicing sweet potatoes and/or yams?
  • What are some great buying tips for sweet potatoes and/or yams?

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 yams...

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 yam.

Vitamins in Sweet Potatoes

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Choline
  • Trace amounts of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Vitamin B6

Minerals in Sweet Potatoes

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium

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 loss.

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 through juicing.

Tips for Juicing Sweet Potatoes

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 thoroughly enjoy.

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!

Purchasing Tips 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.

General Information About Sweet Potatoes and About Yams

sweet potatoes - Beauregard cultivarThis 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 ornamental plants.

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 there.

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 dish.

Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh have more beta carotene than those with light colored flesh.

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 cloth.

Sweet potatoes or camotes are often found in Moche ceramics (dating back to around 300 A.D.).

Additional Sources and Resources for Sweet Potatoes and Yams

Additional 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 Sweet Potatoes!