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Sweet Potatoes-Ugly but Nutritious Vegetable

Sweet potatoes are not the prettiest vegetable on the produce aisle - in fact they are rather ugly - but they are economical, delicious, nutritious and easily prepared.


Sweet Potatoes are not the prettiest vegetable on the produce aisle; in fact they are a rather ugly vegetable, but are popular in the fall. Maybe because they are economical, delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare.

 Both Vitamin A and C can be found in sweet potatoes. Vitamin C is needed by the body for healthy gums and body tissues while Vitamin A is needed for growth, normal vision and healthy condition of skin. 

One cup of cooked sweet potato provides 30mg of beta carotene (Vitamin A). They have four times the USRDA for beta carotene when eaten with the skin on.

They also are a great source of vitamin E and they are virtually fat free. Just two-thirds of a cup of sweet potatoes provides 100 percent of the USRDA for Vitamin E without the unwanted fat many times associated with this vitamin.

Sweet potatoes also supply small amounts of the B vitamins and other minerals, including potassium and iron. They are also a good source of dietary fiber which helps promote a healthy digestive tract. 

A medium-sized sweet potato contains just 118 calories, not too many, but enough to supply the body with valuable food energy. Plus they are virtually fat free, cholesterol free and very low in sodium.

When selecting sweet potatoes, choose those that are firm, smooth, reasonably clean and free from blemishes. Healed scars do not injure the flesh of the sweet potato, but moisture or decay spots indicate flesh damage and off-flavors.

Some sweet potatoes have copper-colored skins, others have light tan skins and some have rosy-red skins. All have yellow to deep orange flesh. After cooking, copper and red skinned varieties are usually softer than the lighter colored sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a few days.  Refrigerator storage of any type is not recommended.  It can slow sprouting but causes the starch to convert to sugar. 

Sweet potatoes rich flavor makes them ideal to bake without added ingredients. When baking, do not wrap in foil. Scrub well, poke a fork into them a time or two to allow steam to escape and, if desired, lightly oil the surface. Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork tender.

When boiling sweet potatoes, be sure to cook them in their jackets. This will prevent some of the sweetness from being dissolved in the water. The skin will be easy to remove and will take less of the potato with it when peeled. Since Vitamin C is easily destroyed by air, cook sweet potatoes quickly and serve hot to prevent nutrient loss.

If you find a good buy on sweet potatoes, purchase extra and freeze for later use. For more information on sweet potatoes, including freezing, check out Arkansas' Fresh Sweet Potatoes, and the National Center for Home Food Preservation Freezing Sweet Potatoes or call our office at 870-779-3609, e-mail, or visit our office at the University of Arkansas, Division of Ag, in the Miller County Courthouse.

This is my favorite sweet potato recipe that I serve every Thanksgiving. It is almost like a dessert instead of a vegetable.


Sweet Potato Soufflé

2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup melted margarine

1 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup melted margarine

3/4 cup cornflakes, crushed


Combine first 7 ingredients; mix together thoroughly. Pour into a 2-quart casserole which has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. While this is baking, combine remaining four ingredients in small bowl and mix thoroughly. Spread over casserole and bake 10 minutes longer, or until mixture is firm.


By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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