Latin Name: Ipomoea batatas
What are Sweet Potatoes?
A regular at the Thanksgiving feast, sweet potatoes are often called yams, though they are not even in the same family as real yams, which have white interior flesh—as opposed to sweet potatoes’ orange flesh—and are native to Africa and Asia.
There is still conflicting evidence regarding the origin of sweet potatoes, either pointing to Central or South America. In either case, they have been cultivated since at least 8000 BC in Peru. They also traveled considerably before the Spanish arrived in the fifteenth century and brought them to Europe; by this time they were already cultivated throughout the suitable climate zones of South, Central and North America, the Caribbean, and even Polynesia and New Zealand.
Inhabitants of New World colonies prized the sweet potato because sweet potatoes were easy to grow, capable of being stored for a long time, and very high in nutritive properties.
What are the health benefits of Sweet Potatoes?
The sweet potato is cooling in nature and used by traditional Chinese medicine to detoxify the body, increase the production of milk in lactating women, and to aid in the treatment of bloody stools, diarrhea, constipation, jaundice, edema, excessive fluid in the abdominal cavity, night blindness, diabetes, and breast abscesses.
Because they are so rich in nutrition, sweet potatoes are very effective in preventing and treating a wide range of ailments. To wit, they have extremely high amounts of vitamin A and C, copper, iron, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, and B6. With strong antioxidant properties, sweet potatoes maintain the integrity of the body’s cells, protecting them from the oxidation causes DNA damage, defending against cancer. Sweet potatoes’ antioxidants also protect against the inflammation that can result in arthritis and asthma and helps prevent the cholesterol build-up in the arteries that can ultimately result in stroke and heart attack. In addition, the vitamin B6 that is abundant in watermelon has been found to promote the protein synthesis needed for the body’s healing, mood and energy stability.
Where can I find Sweet Potato?
Sweet potatoes can be found in most grocery stores and outdoor markets; they are at their best in the colder months of the year.
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