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Why you should eat more sweet potatoes — and their skins

While sweet potatoes are delicious year-round, fall and winter months are perfect for enjoying more of the nutritious, orange-fleshed spud.

While searching online for a new sweet potato dish to try, I ran across this line in a recipe: “Be sure to eat the skin, which is full of fiber, as well.”

Wait. What? Eat the skin?

I eat the skins of white potatoes and think nothing of it. But eating the skin of a sweet potato?

“Absolutely!” says Sheryll Clarke, a registered dietitian with Via Christi Clinic in Wichita. “Adding fiber to the daily meal plan gets us closer to the goal of eating 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber daily. By eating the skins of the sweet potatoes and other fruits and vegetables, we can reach this goal easier.”

The tuberous root vegetable offers many nutritional benefits.

Fiber

Sweet potatoes — particularly the skins — are a great source of fiber. A medium sweet potato with skin can provide 3 to 5 grams of dietary fiber, Clarke explains.

Eating foods high in fiber is part of a healthy diet, because fiber provides slow-burning energy to help you feel fuller longer, sustaining you through the day.  Fiber also helps prevent digestive issues and colorectal cancer.

Vitamins and minerals 

Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene, which are important for supporting a healthy immune system and promoting bone growth.

They are loaded with vitamin A, too, which is crucial in fighting infection. In addition, the beta carotene in sweet potatoes is converted into vitamin A in your body to help support a healthy immune system, promote healthy bones and protect skin.

The high values of vitamin B-6 and potassium in sweet potatoes helps to decrease blood pressure. A medium sweet potato even contains more potassium than a banana!

Sweet potato cooking tips          

  • Bake whole in their skins in foil at 425 degrees for about 1 hour.
  • Prick them with a fork and microwave with a little water on high until tender to the center, about 15 minutes.
  • Slice them into wedges, toss in a light amount of cooking spray or oil, then bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

So shake things up this season and look up a new sweet potato recipe. Clarke suggests you try making a sweet potato salad, or mashed sweet potatoes with the skins left on, or add cooked cubes of sweet potato to soup. Enjoy!

About Melissa Lacey Nagy

Kansas born; wife; mother of two young children; communications professional for Via Christi Health; lover of things that sparkle or taste delicious.