6. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a herbaceous vine, and were discovered by Spanish explorers in North and South America at least 5,000 years ago. They grow best in warmer climates but can be found all over the world, like Japan and southern Russia. Sweet potato is a member of the Convolvulaceae family of flowering plants, and its relatives include chokeweed and water spinach. Contrary to common belief, the sweet potato is not related to the common potato.
Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritional vegetables, and are a staple food item in tropical communities. They’re rich in potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. And, according to the Center For Science in the Public Interest, sweet potatoes were rated number one on a list of the worlds healthiest foods. They also contain a wealth of carotenoid pigments, powerful antioxidants that gives sweet potato flesh that vibrant orange color. Recent studies have shown that sweet potatoes have the ability to raise levels of vitamin A in the blood, particularly in children.
Sweet potatoes also contain anti-inflammatory nutrients like anthocyanin, which has been shown to effectively reduce inflammation in test subjects after consuming sweet potato. Another benefit of sweet potato is its ability to potentially improve blood sugar regulation, even in those with type 2 diabetes.
Even fussy eaters may find it hard to resist the taste of sweet potato. They’re simple to cook, and can be done so in many different ways. For younger children, they can be steamed and mashed up with lean mince-meat to make child-friendly hamburger patties, or sliced up and baked as potato chips for older kids. Sweet potatoes are very versatile, and can be just as delicious served up on the side with meat and vegetables.