The Sweet Potato (Kamote) or called the scientific name ‘ipomoea batatas’, is an underground tuber belonging to the morning glory family. A staple food in many parts of the world, you might recognize them as the copper or vibrant orange, pink, or purple colored potato with a creamy texture and a sweet, earthy, warm taste, making them ideal for both sweet and savory dishes. This versatile ingredient is welcomed by many for its nutritional values, being a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, potassium and fiber. But there is so much more to this humble root tuber than meets the eye.
A short Introduction
The Sweet potato plant might be placed in the same bucket as root vegetables, but these are actually Root Tubers. These are large bulb-like plants that store extra nutrients in the swollen roots to stay alive through the harsh winters, example of these are the sweet potato, potato, and cassava. This starchy potato is not related to yams or the regular ‘white potatoes’ that belong to the nightshade family. While the sweet potato is from the Morning glory or Bindweed family. They originated from Central or South America, domesticated 5,000 years ago. Spread by the locals to the Caribbean at around 2,500 BCE. Though in some records, it was first grown in Polynesia before the Western exploration, spread by vine cuttings, rather than seeds. Introduced by the Spanish to the Philippines, from the Portuguese to Japan, and Europe through the Columbian exchange.
There are a range of Sweet Potato (Kamote) colors, the bright orange flesh being the most common, the potato colors can range from white, yellow, pink and purple. The colors are used to distinguish the impressive nutritional profile, sweet potato calories and protein. For example:
- The white sweet potato has white flesh and is nutrient dense.
- The pink sweet potato has a tinge of purple, but is similar in nutrients with the white version.
- The purple sweet potato is mildly sweet and wine-like in taste, these are starchier and drier compared to others so they need to be cooked longer. These are richer in anthocyanin that helps with disease prevention.
- The orange sweet potato is the sweetest and richest in beta-carotene. Making it great for the eyes, skin, immune system, and mucous membrane.
These have become the most efficient staple in many countries, if not worldwide. The whole tuber is eaten, from the skin, to the leaves, and roots. Used for traditional medicine, being a dietary requirement, a cheaper alternative to a meal, or for the flavor profile it provides the dishes. Many popular sweet potato recipes include, regular side dishes like the simple baked sweet potato, sweet potato fries, candied sweet potato, sweet potato wedges (kamote que), sweet potato fries (kamote fries), to holiday treats like sweet potato casserole, sweet potato pie, sweet potato brownies, comforting dishes like sweet potato soup, or an intricate dish like sweet potato souffle. This versatile ingredient is great as a stir-fry, baked, air-fried, baked into goods, added into soups as filler, as an alternative to rice, and many more.
Sweet Potato (Kamote) benefits
Here’s a quick sweet potato nutrition fact, 100 grams of serving is already 12% of fiber, 3% of protein, and just 86 calories. These starchy sweet bombs are available all year long, becoming a popular snack and ingredient in the fall, from savory to sweet dishes. A great way to support a well balanced diet, how much sweet potato nutrition can actually benefit the body? Here are 10 health benefits of sweet potatoes:
- It’s immunity boosting, taking 1 cup provides you with your daily need of Vitamin A and C.
- Being high in Vitamin C also helps with the production of collagen, a protein found in skin, hair, bones, ligaments, and tendons. Keeping them healthy and strong, the hair and skin from drying out.
- An antioxidant powerhouse that helps maintain a well functioning organ and good vision.
- Has anti inflammatory properties, which calms down chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, or type 2 diabetes.
- Regulates blood pressure, maintains a working nervous system, and heart rhythm. This is because the sweet potato baked with its skin has twice the potassium than a medium sized banana.
- Contains important and essential minerals like manganese, these promote bone health and pushes to create red blood cells.
- Has complex carbohydrates, used to create energy. But unlike sugary goods, these are not short lived energy bursts and won’t spike your blood sugar.
- High in fiber and being a slow burning starch, keeps the blood sugar from spiking. Great for gut health.
- Supports weight loss, being a filling root crop that releases peptides in the body signaling that it is still full, it also decreases the fat stored in the body.
- It may reduce the risk of cancer. Eating a well balanced diet with fruit and vegetables that are high in antioxidants might help. Some studies show that antioxidants from purple sweet potato peels can reduce the oxidation process and thereby reduce the risks.
The Sweet Potato or ‘Kamote’
This wholesome tuber is called ‘Kamote’ in the Philippines, the term came from the Spanish word ‘camote’ derived from the Nahuatl word ‘camotli’. Introduced from Latin America in the Spanish colonial period via the Manila Galleon with other crops.
A staple crop extensively cultivated in the Philippines, planted any time of the year. In recent findings, the leading producer of this sweet filling treat is from Eastern Visayas making 35% of the total kamote production. Aside from it being sold as is, these are also used for starch and alcohol production. With that being said, the Kamote has been part of many Filipino meals and dishes. Here in yummy kitchen you can find some recipes to enjoy this delightfully yummy and healthy Kamote recipes (sweet potato recipes):
- Sweet Potato Donut or Kamote Donut, a guilt free, healthier version of your usual donut. Satisfy your cravings with this no bake dessert.
- Sweet Potato Balls, a delightfully sweet snack made with mashed sweet potatoes, cornstarch, all purpose flour, condensed milk, baking powder and salt. Kids will absolutely fall in love with these!
- Sweet Potato Delight, a ‘Kakanin’ or Filipino rice based dish but made with sweet potato, made even more delectable with grated cheese on top.
- Kamoteng Maruya, a budget friendly snack made of fried sweet potato stripes, covered with batter, fried then generously sprinkled with sugar.
A nutritional all star packed with essential vitamins and minerals, promotes heart health, gut health, and regulates the blood sugar that registered dietitians recommend. These are cultivated all year round and can provide you with enough vitamins and minerals in one cup. A deliciously versatile and great all around ingredient you can add almost anywhere. The sweet potato is an ingredient that can satisfy and complete any meal plan or diet.