Powerhouse Plant: Sweet Potato

Oct 05, 2022My Store Admin

Take a look around at your local farmer’s markets. It’s the time of year for squash, root vegetables, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables. The sweet potato, a root vegetable, technically a tuber, is the sixth most important food crop worldwide. Said to be native to Central and South America, currently, China is the leader of production of sweet potatoes in the global market.


What’s a Tuber?


A tuber is a thick part of the stem underground which helps to provide nutrients and energy for food reserve and the regrowth of buds. They are used for survival in the cooler or dryer months of the year (the plant’s perennation). Tubers include yams, taro, potatoes and sweet potatoes, jicama, and sunchokes, among others.


What’s a Root Vegetable?


Root vegetables are vegetables which are grown underground. They have the warmer months to grow and are typically picked in the autumn months. These include onions, ginger, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips, garlic, carrots, and turmeric.


Eat for the Season


Eating for the season helps to align your internal environment with your external environment. We tend to crave warming, hearty soups and stews in the autumn and winter months. Vegetables such as beets, pumpkins, and potatoes are more desirable during this time while more hydrating, cooling fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and cucumbers are chosen in the warmer months. This is our body’s natural response to the season changing around us. Try to shop locally. Explore your local farmer’s market or check for local signs within your produce section at the grocery store. Eating locally is a wonderful way to get the freshest, best tasting, and highest quality (lower chemical-ridden) foods within your community. This also helps to ensure you're getting in season items. Eating seasonally not only harmonizes with the body’s cyclical rhythm, but it’s said to help support diversity within your gut microbiome (1). By diversifying your intake of plant foods each season, you are feeding beneficial gut bacteria with fibrous nutrients.

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, slow digestible/resistant starch, carotenoids, bioactive proteins and lipids, and polyphenols. Even though there are many variations of sweet potatoes out there, they all provide these core nutrients. The loads of phytochemicals within this tuber are said to help prevent illnesses including cardiovascular disorders and certain cancers (2). It has even been said that they can help to increase the quantity of milk in lactating women (3). Sweet potatoes contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Touching back to the gut microbiome, they also encompass important gastrointestinal tract (GI) promoting properties as well (4). Sweet potato consumption is said to help stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Remember to eat all of the sweet potato. On a per-weight basis, the skin has about 10x the antioxidant power than the flesh (5). By eating the entire potato, the antioxidant potential is climbing toward blueberry levels. Both healthy and cheap, sweet potatoes rank as one of the most nutrient-dense plant scores per dollar (6).


Did You Know?


According to Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, purple sweet potatoes are a staple food in the diets among citizens on the small islands of Okinawa, Japan which happens to hold some of the world’s longest lived women. 


Sweet Potatoes on the P.S. & Co. Menu:

Organic Sweet Potato Pumpkin Spice Smoothie - Organic roasted sweet potato puree, organic maple syrup, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom and sea salt; organic coconut milk, organic banana and ice.


Organic Mohinga Noodle Soup - Organic Burmese noodle soup full of anti-inflammatory goodness. Packed with nutritious ingredients such as: turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallots, leeks, sweet potatoes, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass, this option is beyond healing.


Occasional Rotating Organic Cakes and Cupcakes


1 Davenport ER, Mizrahi-Man O, Michelini K, Barreiro LB, Ober C, Gilad Y. Seasonal variation in human gut microbiome composition. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 11;9(3):e90731. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090731. PMID: 24618913; PMCID: PMC3949691.

2 Escobar-Puentes AA, Palomo I, Rodríguez L, Fuentes E, Villegas-Ochoa MA, González-Aguilar GA, Olivas-Aguirre FJ, Wall-Medrano A. Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) Phenotypes: From Agroindustry to Health Effects. Foods. 2022 Apr 6;11(7):1058. doi: 10.3390/foods11071058. PMID: 35407143; PMCID: PMC8997864.

3 Pitchford, P. (2009), 510. Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books.

4 Liu M , Li X , Zhou S , Wang TTY , Zhou S , Yang K , Li Y , Tian J , Wang J . Dietary fiber isolated from sweet potato residues promotes a healthy gut microbiome profile. Food Funct. 2020 Jan 29;11(1):689-699. doi: 10.1039/c9fo01009b. PMID: 31909777.

5 Greger, M., & Stone, G. (2018). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. Pan Books.

6 ibid.

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