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We’re here today to talk about the sensational sweet potato.

Traditionally, we think of the sweet potato as a Thanksgiving treat.

In November every year, people whip out their favorite sweet potato recipes. But why only once a year?

Brimming with health benefits and inherent natural deliciousness, sweet potatoes deserve to be on the table all year round.

The Sweet Potato Day–A History

Sweet potatoes are not a new-fangled fad–they have been eaten and loved for centuries.

In fact, these spuds go back 5,000 years to when they were first ‘domesticated’ in Central America.

And they may have been around even longer than that–there is some proof that sweet potatoes existed as far back as 8000 B.C.!

And today they’re popular everywhere. From Uganda to Rwanda, India to Vietnam.

The sweet potato even reigns as the state vegetable of North Carolina!

But What Makes the Sweet Potato so Great?

For starters, sweet potatoes are super easy and versatile to cook. You can quite literally prepare them any way you want: roasted, baked, steamed, sautéed, mashed. They can be eaten on their own or as part of a complete dish: curry, wok or casserole.

Second of all, sweet potatoes make a welcome change from a ‘regular’ potato–adding a fresh original taste to the meal.

Finally, they are packed with vitamin A and, like the regular potato are good sources of fiber.

With their super dose of healthful, nourishing nutrients, sweet potatoes are a delightful addition to any plant-based diet.

The Difference Between a Yam and a Sweet Potato?

Many people confuse yams and sweet potatoes. And while both are flowering
plants (angiosperms) that’s basically where any similarities stop.

Yams are considered monocots–plants with one embryonic seed leaf and are stem tubers. Sweet potatoes are dicots (they have two embryonic seed leaves) and are considered storage roots (or root tubers).

Yams also have white flesh and are starchier and drier than the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Plus, their nutrient content is not at all the same; the sweet potato is well-known for its high vitamin A content while yams have very little.

Remember, there is no reason to ‘just’ eat the delicious sweet potato a couple of times a year.

Blend this nutritionally supercharged vegetable into your meals at least once a week throughout the year!

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.