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Friday, October 24, 2008

Sweet Potatoes -- better than potatoes

Sweet Potatoes: Japanese, Jewel, Okinawa, and Garnet

Sweet Potatoes are sweet. But they aren't potatoes. They're better. They raise your blood sugar and insulin a lot less than real potatoes do. Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic indexof 54, while baked potatoes have a high glycemic index of 85....

This can be important if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides. Because, as I've learned, a lot of damage to your heart happens right after a meal that raises your blood sugar too much. And Sweet Potatoes are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B6, iron, potassium, and fiber.

Sweet potatoes are not yams, though orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are often called yams. Some people don't like the "pumpkin" flavor and moist, soft texture of orange sweet potatoes. Fortunately, there are other sweet potato choices, from the white-fleshed "Japanese" or "Kotobuki", to the pale yellow "Jersey", to the purple-fleshed "Okinawan". These all have a drier, fluffier flesh, with a mild to slightly nutty flavor.

Sweet potato muffins are still a big favorite of mine, but, more and more, I'm buying the Jerseys and the Japanese to replace baked or roasted potatoes at the dinner table. I think the Japanese "Kotobuki" would make a nice fluffy mash, but I haven't tried it yet.

A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato has the same amount of carbohydrates (21g) as a 100g serving of baking potato. But the sweet potato has 3g of fiber, 6.5g of sugar, and 7g of starch (is it just me, or are there about 4g of carb missing from that equation?), while the baking potato has 2g of fiber, 1.2g of sugar, and 17.3g of starch.

Photo from Nakashima Farms, Ditty's Saturday Market, Livingston, CA.


Bix said...

Family, where do you buy the Japanese? I love them but can't find a source for them.

Also, I've never had that purple one, and given your description of drier I'd like to try it. Do you have a source for it too?

Family Nutritionist said...

I am pretty sure the white sweet potatoes I get all the time at Wegman's and at my favorite farmstand are the Japanese or Kotobuki. They look identical to the ones, labelled Japanese, I occasionally get from one of the Amish farmers at the West Chester Grower's Market. The Jerseys, I've only ever gotten from a farmstand in Maryland. I thought I was getting a white sweet potato, and was surprised that it turned golden as soon as my husband put it to the heat.

I've only read about the purple ones, actually. I'd snap some up in a moment if I actually saw any.

Bix said...

Thanks, Family, I'll try Wegman's. I wish stores would carry more than that, IMO, sickly-sweet orange-fleshed "yam." There are soooo many kinds out there.

Family Nutritionist said...

I *LIKE* the sweet orange "yam" sweet potato. Where do you get your beets?

Bix said...

Beets I get from Wegman's or Produce Junction. I don't know why they sell them with all those greens attached. They don't look very appetizing, all limp and gooey. I usually cut them off and (blush) throw them out. A few times, when they looked decent, I cooked them. They were pretty good, actually. Maybe they keep the beet root fresher?

Family Nutritionist said...

I think the bunch beets sell better. My local Wegmans used to sell bulk beets and bunch. The bulk beets were a better price, but nobody bought them but me. The same beets would sit in the tray for weeks, after I had already bought all the desireable 3-4" beets, as well as the 2" and 5" beets, anyway. So the woody, overgorwn monsters dried out or got slimy (depending on the sprinkler setting) and occasionally rolled across the floor. Every week, I put in a request card to request bulk beets. They must be tired of hearing from the "beet lady". They never call.

The greens on bunch beets are doing us no favors, as they continue to draw sap from the root. The price per edible pound is not so good for bunch beets. I don't buy them often. They're a root vegetable. They're supposed to be inexpensive.

If they're not beat up and gooey, the greens are a lot like a smaller, tougher red chard, which is not surprising, since they're the same species.

Bix said...

"occasionally rolled across the floor."
Laughing, I know what you mean.

Good point about the leaves drawing up nutrients. You know, I'll start pestering them for bulk beet now too.

Family Nutritionist said...

Which Wegmans?