When most people picture a sweet potato, they imagine a copper-skinned, longer version of a russet potato that has orange flesh. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that there are more varieties of sweet potatoes.
Yes, orange sweet potatoes are not the only sweet potatoes that exist. Sweet potatoes come in several different colors. However, before we get to sweet potato varieties, let’s talk about thier history.
History Of Sweet Potatoes
Scientifically known as Ipomoea batatas, sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory or Convolvulaceae species. Sweet potatoes originated in Central America.
Columbus transported sweet potatoes to Europe, and eventually, they made thier way to Africa and Asia via Portuguese and Spanish traders. Sweet potatoes were used also used in Japan to treat diabetes as well as other diseases.
In addition to this, American Indians also used sweet potatoes as a treatment for thirst and weight loss associated with diabetes.
What Are Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are a plant that’s common in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Nutrition-wise, sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious types of vegetables grown in these regions.
Sweet potatoes are the sixth-largest food crop globally, which means it is an important staple in developing countries such as Asia and Africa. Sweet potatoes can be cultivated year-round under the proper conditions; therefore, they have been deemed an insurance crop.
Orange Vs. White Sweet Potatoes
There are many kinds of sweet potatoes. Thier skin can be red, white, tan, reddish-purple, or yellow-orange, while thier flesh can be purple, white, yellow, red, or orange. However, most people are only familiar with orange and white sweet potatoes.
Besides the obvious skin difference, most people do not know the difference between these two varieties.
When it comes to fall, orange sweet potatoes are the creme de la creme. Orange sweet potatoes have copper skin and vivid orange flesh.
In contrast, white sweet potatoes boast a golden skin and white interior. Even though white sweet potatoes have the signature sweet potato shape and texture, the flesh resembles a starchy russet potato.
Another key difference between orange and white sweet potatoes is thier level of sweetness. Orange sweet potatoes have a bold, robust sweet flavor, while white sweet potatoes have a slightly less sweet flavor.
In addition to this, orange sweet potatoes are also called yams, a name assigned to orange sweet potatoes to differentiate them from thier white counterparts. White sweet potatoes have softer skin, while orange sweet potatoes have a firmer texture.
How To Cook Sweet Potatoes
Both white and orange sweet potatoes are compatible with both sweet and savory dishes. The only noticeable difference between the two is the flavor.
White sweet potatoes can be grilled, mashed, boiled, or roasted along with other vegetables and blended into roasted vegetable soup. Additionally, since white sweet potatoes have a crumbly texture, they are a little easier to handle.
You can boil or roast them until tender, then mash the flesh with butter and cream to create savory yet sweet mashed potatoes or baked potatoes. White sweet potatoes can also be used to create sweet potato fries or hash.
On the other hand, orange sweet potatoes can be used to make a classic sweet potato casserole, sweet potato pie, or sweet potato cake. Sweet potato leaves are also edible and contain a healthy amount of beneficial nutrients.
Sweet potato leaves can be tough snd bitter, so boil them in a small amount of water until tender, then saute them in butter along with garlic and onions. You can also chop the sweet potato leaves and use them in recipes as you normally would in recipes calling for cooked leafy greens.
Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain several different nutrients, including bioactive compounds like phenolic acids and anthocyanins, which are also responsible for the color of the sweet potato’s flesh. Sweet potatoes also contain dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
In addition to this, sweet potatoes possess anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Sweet potatoes are thought to be a unique product as some of their elements can be used to treat several diseases.
Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain many nutrients that have antioxidant, cardioprotective, antimicrobial, and anti-obesity effects. Orange sweet potatoes are rich in β-carotene, which is the primary source of vitamin A, while thier white counterparts contain little to no β-carotene. Consuming different parts of the sweet potato has been implicated in preventing vitamin A malnutrition and can even protect the liver against injury.
You can only know which sweet potato reigns supreme if you try both white and orange sweet potatoes. If you prefer a sweet potato that tastes like what it’s supposed to taste like, orange sweet potatoes are your best bet.
However, if you prefer a slightly less sweet flavor, white sweet potatoes are the best option. Whether you prefer orange or white sweer potatoes, one thing is sure; you will receive a tasty, delicious meal that is loaded with nutrients.