Food & Drinks

10 things you didn’t know about the humble sweet potato

A little veggie trivia to get you through the day!

By Australian Sweet Potatoes
Step aside kale and acai, there's a new superfood ready to take over — and you've probably got it in your pantry already — the humble sweet potato!
All too often overlooked, the versatile vegetable is packed full of vitamins and nutrients and can easily be used for both sweet and savoury recipes.
Still not sold? Here, the ultimate sweet potato fact file to help put the splendorous spud back on the map.

1. There are four different types of sweet potato

You're probably most familiar with the golden kind, but there are actually four different variants of sweet potatoes grown in Australia, each with there own unique profile.
The gold sweet potato is bright in colour and rich in flavour, whilst the red sweet potato with white flesh is creamy in texture with a more mild flavour. The white sweet potato is the less common variety but provides high energy levels and is also milder in taste. Our favourite; the purple sweet potato with a dense texture and an almost winey flavour, yum!

2. Sweet potatoes aren't actually potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a bit of an enigma in the vegetable world and despite their many similarities with the beloved spud, sweet potatoes don't actually belong to the potato family. The delicious tuber is actually part of the root vegetable family — i.e. not the potato family — alongside beets, turnips and parsnips.
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3. You can store sweet potatoes in the fridge or the pantry

The ongoing battle between fridge and pantry has finally been settled, and there's no winner! Sweet potatoes are as happy residing in the fridge as they are in the pantry. Sweet potatoes aren't a fan of extreme cold though, so if you are storing them in the fridge make sure the temperature isn't set too low or they will freeze.

4. Sweet potatoes are jam packed with vitamins A, B, and C

While sweet potatoes have a higher calorie counting in contrast to other vegetables, they definitely pack a punch when it comes to their nutritional levels. The delicious root vegetable is very high in vitamin A, essential for healthy eyes and skin and also filled with vitamin C, an essential part of the immune system. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of B vitamin niacin, which is needed for energy release and the reduction of tiredness.

5. You can still eat sprouting sweet potatoes

Just because shoots are growing out of your sweet potatoes doesn't mean you can't eat them. Just trim off any shoots and cook your sweet potato as normal. Additional fact: sweet potatoes are actually tastier and sweeter after sprouting has occurred.

6. You can control the sweetness of sweet potatoes

If you're a fan of using sweet potatoes to make decadent desserts, than this fun fact is for you. The secret to the sweetness of a sweet potato is maltose, an enzyme that breaks down from starch to sugar when heated. So if you cook sweet potatoes low and slow, the spud will have more time to convert its starch to sugar, giving you sweeter potatoes, perfect for pies, cakes and even brownies!
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7. You can actually eat the whole plant

While most people are familiar with the tuber itself, many don't realise that the leaves of a sweet potato are actually extremely delicious and filled with more nutrients than the actual spud! Next time you head to the grocery store or market, ask about sweet potato leaves. They make for a great upgrade from spinach and are as easy to blitz up in a smoothie as they are used as the base of a salad.

8. Sweet potatoes can assist digestion

If you're someone that struggles to reach their daily fibre intake, incorporating more sweet potato into your diet could be the answer to your problems. Loaded with almost 20 per cent of a person's daily recommended fibre intake, one serving of sweet potato can help to boost your digestive health. These sweet potato and lentil patties are a great recipe to start with, and are even loaded with extra fibre-ful ingredients.

9. Sweet potatoes are good for babies and adults alike

While sweet potatoes prove an extremely beneficial and nutritious vegetables for adults and school-age children, the root vegetable is also extremely suitable for kiddies under three. Just 75 grams of a baked sweet potato provides 100 per cent of their daily vitamin C intakes and more than 60 per cent of their vitamin A source. So if you're looking to introduce your little one to a greater assortment of solid foods, sweet potato has to be the vegetable of choice.

10. Australian sweet potatoes are perfect all year round

It's safe to say that the home of the sweet potato is Bundaberg, with 70 per cent of Australia's root vegetable grown in the sunny Queensland region. With prime farming land and consistent weather conditions, Bundaberg is able to grow and supply the crop throughout the entire year.
With such a ready availability, it means sweet potatoes are as perfect to eat in summer as they are in the winter. So if you're wanting to enjoy the benefits of the root vegetable but aren't up for a hearty soup, try out a sweet potato salad recipe or even a sweet potato dip, perfect for the warmer months.

Brought to you by Australian Sweet Potatoes