I have often been asked the question “why sweet potatoes over potatoes?” My first answer is: because I like them better. My second answer is: because they are more nutrient-dense. My goal is to strive for eating the most nutrient-dense foods available to me. Lets take a quick look at the nutrient profiles of both:
First, lets talk about what they have in common. Both have starch and dietary fiber. They are both tubers. Both are a good source of energy, aka starchy carbohydrates.
Now, lets take a look at the macronutrient content of each medium-sized tuber. Sweet potatoes are vitamin A powerhouses. Why does this matter? Vitamin A is important for vision, the immune system, and reproduction. It also assists the heart, lungs, and kidneys to work properly. They also contain loads of potassium, more sugars, but less calories! Sweet potatoes also contain notable levels of vitamins C and E. The blood glucose response (glycemic index or “GI”) to a sweet potato is far lower than a white potato (source: www.precisionnutrition.com).
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are both healthy choices if you are looking for a starchy carb, but whenever I am deciding what to eat I always try chose the more nutrient-dense option. The more nutrient-dense your food is, the less hungry you will feel. Our bodies send out “hunger signals” when it needs nutrients. The sooner we satiate our bodies needs, the sooner our bodies will send out the “satisfied” signal. One important rule of thumb is that the more naturally colorful the food, the more nutrients it contains.
Important fact: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that you can more easily absorb the vitamins if consumed with some healthy fats, such as a tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee. If you are still confused about which fats are healthiest, here is a link to an article written by Diane SanFilippo of Balanced Bites from her cookbook Practical Paleo: http://balancedbites.com/faqs-what-are-safe-cooking-fats-oils/.
How to prepare them:
My favorite new way to make sweet potatoes is the dry-slowcook method. I place the sweet potatoes washed and dried in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. It creates this delicious, caramelized texture, then I use them throughout the week for various things. Sometimes, I just slice of a piece and slather on some coconut butter for a snack or to fuel a workout.
My 5 year old has an undeniable sweet tooth. His favorite dish is sweet potato pudding for dessert. You can find a great recipe here: https://stupideasypaleo.com/2014/11/29/paleo-pumpkin-sweet-potato-custard-recipe-dairy-free-egg-free/
And of course, sweet potato fries. Here is a simple recipe from Nom Nom Paleo: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/6172268400/oven-baked-sweet-potato-fries
A quick note about paleo: I am sure you have noticed that most of my posts use “paleo” recipes. Although we are not a strict-paleo family, I often use paleo recipes as the foundation for my own cooking. I do this because the basis of the Paleo style of eating is to eat whole foods, and uses nutrient-dense, stable oils for cooking.