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6 health benefits of eating sweet potatoes

Did you know that sweet potatoes pack a serious nutritional punch? Here are six reasons why it's a good idea to add them to your shopping list.

One small thing: Switch up white potato for sweet potato. This versatile root vegetable can be roasted, mashed, baked or grilled.

Despite its name, sweet potato isn't really part of the potato family. It's actually a root vegetable that comes in orange, white or purple varieties. The humble sweet potato is also one of PnP's Food Heroes – and for good reason. Aside from its earthy taste and sweet flavour, it's a nutritional powerhouse that delivers vitamins, fibre and minerals.

We can also count on sweet potatoes for the following:

1. Essential minerals
Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C and a variety of B vitamins. These nutrients are essential to our health and help ensure an optimal immune function, among a myriad of other benefits.

2. High vitamin-A content Sweet potatoes contain 10 times more vitamin A than regular potatoes. This vitamin contributes to normal growth and development as well as skin and immune system health. It also plays a key role in maintaining healthy vision.

3. Low-GI properties
Sweet potatoes have a low glycaemic index (GI), which results in a slower blood glucose response. Not only does this help with weight control as you feel fuller for longer, but it also helps to manage blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

4. High beta-carotene content
Sweet potatoes contain beta carotene as well as other carotenoids. Carotenoids are phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk of eye disease, some cancers and heart disease.

5. Packed with fibre
A medium-sized sweet potato baked in its skin has 4g of fibre, which is around 20% of your fibre requirement for the day – so don't peel them.

6. It's a PnP Food Hero
As a PnP Food Hero, sweet potato is regarded as an affordable, nutritious everyday food. (Look out for more products bearing the PnP Food Heroes logo in-store.)

Cooking with sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile veggies – they can be baked, roasted, fried, braaied, steamed, boiled, mashed or puréed. And, because of their sweet taste, they can even be used in teatime treats like carrot cake or brownies.

They're the perfect vegetable to sneak into traditional dishes where potatoes are usually king: add an unexpected twist to a cottage pie by using sweet potato mash as the topping or include chunks of sweet potato in a curry for a change in texture and taste.

Sweet potato wedges are also a great party-snack alternative. Cut into lengths, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with paprika and roast at 200°C for 30-40 minutes, depending on how crispy you'd like them. Serve with a dip of low-fat cream cheese.

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