Despite what some commercial diet plans say, or what people have been led to believe—not all carbohydrates are "bad". Just like not all calories are created equally, carbohydrates are not either. They provide energy for activity and they aid in the functioning of our muscles and internal organs, so we cannot live without them. When looking for high-quality (i.e., highly beneficial and healthful) carbohydrates, choose a nutritional super star, like sweet potatoes!
Whether child or adult...we all like to enjoy something sweet! That doesn't mean it has to be something full of added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. A sweet potato is a healthy whole food, sweet all on its own. When eaten in moderation, in proper portion size and prepared healthfully, it’s one of nature’s best bets. Besides their fun bright orange interior, sweet potatoes lend themselves to being seasoned by a variety of ethnic and flavorful spices, making them a “go to ingredient” no matter what the season.
Ounce for ounce, white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain about the same amount of carbohydrates (1/2 cup = 15 grams). However, sweet potatoes are a better source of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, manganese and calcium than white potatoes. In addition, sweet potatoes have more fiber and therefore a slightly lower glycemic index than their white counterparts.
For this reason, blood glucose will rise a little more gradually with sweet potatoes than with white potatoes. The rate at which your body breaks down a specific type of carbohydrate influences how quickly the food raises your blood sugar levels and in turn lowers them and potentially causing you to be hungrier faster. It is also a better choice for someone with diabetes or diabetic tendencies because of its composition.
Although not the same, the USDA requires the other typically orange- colored vegetable of a softer variety and a cousin of the sweet potato—the yam—to be labeled as a sweet potato, to avoid confusion. So, yams purchased in the United States are almost always sweet potatoes, no matter what color and shape they are.
At Red Rabbit, we incorporate sweet potatoes into many of our signature menu offerings: baked sweet potato wedges, sweet potato mash, sweet potato bread, baked sweet potato crisps, and more. We are constantly looking for ways to introduce kids to healthful ways to prepare vegetables for maximum taste and nutrition!
The key to making them a healthy part of any diet is to enjoy them with the skin—baked and not fried, without a lot of added extras, like butter and sour cream, on top! Let us know what your favorite RR sweet potato recipe is…or recommend one of your own!
Shari Mermelstein, RD
Program Development Director