Make it a super holiday with this superfood

Sweet Potato DishYou’ve heard the word “superfood” before. By and large the word is more promotional in nature than scientific, and in fact, it’s a word, so to speak, that is not part of a nutritionist’s diet. However, most of us understand that the word has a meaning that is good-health related, that it’s a food that might even contain some medical benefits. That’s where the rub comes in. For instance, the word is banned from use in the European Union if it’s not supported with credible research.

Some of the foods that have been labeled superfoods include spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, salmon, mackerel, beets and legumes to name a few. But there’s one superfood, beyond these, that really is part of the holiday festivities, and that’s the sweet potato. Of course, it loses the superfood distinction when loads of butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and even bacon are added to the recipe, but those ingredients sure make the sweet potato a sweet superfood.

The sweet potato is a superfood for a variety of reasons. First, it contains 438% of your daily value vitamin A. Second, it boasts an impressive 37% of your daily vitamin C. Third, it’s packed with calcium, potassium and iron. Fourth, it’s only 105 calories. And fifth, the sweet potato delivers 4 grams of fiber and has no fat. It sounds super to us.

But what’s the secret to making a healthy sweet potato dish? Well, if you’re looking for fries or wedges try this recipe: http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000000522028,00.html. Or try this inventive recipe that combines sweet potatoes with Yukon Golds: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/two_toned_mashed_potatoes.html.

But how do you pick the right sweet potato for your next holiday side dish? Always select sweet potatoes that are small to medium size in weight. Then, it’s important to understand the distinction between the two primary varieties that you’ll find in your grocer’s produce section. There are sweet potatoes that have a moist, orange-flesh type and sweet potatoes that are dry and more yellow resembling baking potatoes. Typically, orange-flesh varieties are sweeter and moister than the others. And always remember that sweet potatoes might look hardy, but they’re actually quite fragile and bruise easily. Avoid potatoes that are bruised or have a stringy “beard”; it means they’re over-mature. And don’t refrigerate your sweet potatoes, it will enhance their deterioration.

We guess it really doesn’t matter if you call the sweet potato a superfood or not. What does matter is that they do contain valuable nutritional elements, they do taste delightful, and there are thousands of wonderful recipes that are simple to make. Enjoy your next holiday side dish of sweet potatoes. Cheers!

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