7 Reasons Your Sweet Potato Obsession Is Amazing For Your Health
In the center of the Venn diagram of "incredibly tasty foods" and "incredibly nutritious foods" sit a select few of nature's treats. Among them is the sweet potato—in part for its versatility and in part for its satisfying texture and taste. After all, what other veggie can you roast, mash, spiralize, slice and bake into fries, and transform into grain-free brownies? Seriously, take a minute to think about that.
Here, learn everything you'd ever want to know about sweet potatoes—including seven compelling health benefits—that will inspire you to eat this superfood daily.
A brief history of the sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are starchy root vegetables. Specifically, they're what's known as underground tubers, and they actually grow on the roots of a plant known as Ipomoea batatas. Today, sweet potatoes are grown worldwide, but where did they first appear, courtesy of Mother Nature?
For years, scientists have been debating this very question. Some argued that the Thanksgiving staple originated in North America, while others weren't so convinced. In 2018, research by a paleobotanist at Indiana University suggested that the sweet potato's actual continent of origin is Asia—and that this root veggie has been growing for way longer than we thought.
David Dilcher, a professor at IU-Bloomington, along with colleagues in India, recently identified 57-million-year-old leaf fossils from eastern India, suggesting that sweet potatoes trace their roots to this country.
Specifically, the fossils were identified as members of the morning glory family—which includes sweet potatoes, among other plants. This was a game-changer, since previous fossil evidence led scientists to believe that the sweet potato's plant family originated in North America 35 million years ago.