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Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) truly match the description "delicious and nutritious." These tasty veggies are packed with vitamins and nutrients and are sweet to eat.

Despite their name, sweet potatoes are not closely related to white potatoes. White potatoes are part of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, eggplant and hot peppers, according to the University of Wisconsin. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are part of the morning glory family of flowering plants. Sweet potatoes are root vegetables — meaning that the part you eat is the root — while white potatoes are considered tubers.

Nutrient profile

Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of vitamin A; a medium one contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended intake, according to the USDA.

Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene, and makes this nutrient easier for the body to absorb, HSPS says. Cooking sweet potatoes with the skin on also helps prevent the loss of nutrients, including vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Sweet potatoes also come in white, yellow, pink and purple varieties.

Health effects of sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins: They "are high in vitamin A [in the form of beta-carotene], vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and, due to their orange color, are high in carotenoids," said San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores.

They also contain no fat, are relatively low in sodium and have fewer calories than white potatoes — although they do contain sugar. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber, according to HSPH.

Sweet potatoes are considered a medium glycemic index food, according to HSPH, with a glycemic index of 63. (The glycemic index (GI) refers to how quickly and how much a food raises a person's blood sugar after eating.) White potatoes, on the other hand, are a high-GI food, with a GI of 78. Previous research has shown a link between a high-GI diet and type 2 diabetes.

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