Sweet Potatoes
Darci Bell

Sweet Potatoes

Whether you like them in a breakfast hash, sliced into fries, or in a casserole, sweet potatoes are a crowd favorite in the South! This root vegetable is next up in our “What’s in Season?” series. 

What makes sweet potatoes special?  

Sweet potatoes are part of a vegetable subgroup called red and orange vegetables. Vegetables in this group are known for their many health benefits and for being rich in vitamins and minerals. Here are a few ways sweet potatoes can enhance your diet:  

  • Sweet potatoes contain a nutrient called beta-carotene. [1] This is what gives them their bright orange color on the inside! When you eat a sweet potato, your body turns beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is has been shown to promote eye health. [2] 
  • Sweet potatoes are a great source of Potassium. This nutrient helps muscles, bones, and the nervous system function properly. [3] 
  • Vitamin C can also be found in sweet potatoes. This vitamin has been shown to promote overall health by supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of some cancers. [4]  
  • Lastly, sweet potatoes are high in fiber. Fiber is good for many things like blood sugar regulation, keeping you fuller for a longer amount of time, and promoting better digestive health. [5]  

freshly picked sweet potatoes

Harvested in Georgia  

Did you know that Georgia has 5,000 acres of land dedicated to growing and harvesting sweet potatoes? [6] And the state’s sweet potato market is worth 2.5 million! [7] That’s a lot of potatoes.  

Georgia’s warm climate is perfect for growing sweet potatoes. Since they are root vegetables, you can only see the plant above the soil as they grow (see the picture below). Sweet potatoes are typically dug up and harvested around 80-110 days after planting. [6] After this, they are allowed to air dry to keep their sweetness. [7] For more information on planting, tending to, and harvesting sweet potatoes, visit this UGA Cooperative Extension Services article 

Sweet potatoes can be found at your local grocery store year-round. However, if you want to ensure that you are buying them when they are in season, mark your calendars for January through February and August through December.  

If you want to purchase this crop locally, sweet potato farmers are located all across the state. Use this GA Grown resource to find the farmers closest to you! And for more information on when other local produce is available, check out our What’s In Season in Georgia chart 

rows of growing sweet potato plants

Sweet Potato Recipes 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking with sweet potatoes. Here are some of our favorite ways to prepare them: 

three stuffed sweet potatoes in a line on a plate

We hope you enjoyed learning about sweet potatoes in this blog. Check back next month for a feature on cabbage! 

 

Written by Darci Bell, RDN, LD | Edited by Leslie Davis, RDN, LD, CDCES, and the Nutrition Team   

Posted: February 28, 2022 

 

References:  

[1] FoodData Central  

[2] Kaiser Permanente  

[3] Harvard Health 

[4] National Institutes of Health  

[5] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health  

[6] University of Georgia Extension  

[7] Georgia Grown  

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