It is almost Thanksgiving. In a few days, we will take a break from parades and football to sit down with our family and friends around a table laden with food. Turkey, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and gravy will incite great rumbles of hunger as we spoon each selection onto our plates. In the moments that follow grace, we will lose all sense of nutrition as we sate our bodies with mountains of warm, savory substances. Therefore, it is important that we fill our tables with delicious yet healthy foods prior to eating. One of the best ways to do that is to add sweet potatoes to the menu.
Sweet potatoes are, as evidenced by their orange coloring, rich in beta carotene. They also contain plentiful amounts of vitamins B6 and C, fiber, copper, manganese, potassium and iron. As such, they are healthful ways to ward off the signs of aging and protect against certain cancers. Moreover, they have been termed an anti-diabetic food, meaning they can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance. With those benefits, no fat and only 54 calories per potato, they are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal. And it doesn’t hurt that they are at the very root of American history, as well.
Since colonial times, sweet potatoes have been relied on to provide nutrition in the most severe of situations. They were a staple during the Revolutionary and Civil War, sustaining soldiers and impoverished citizens. They were brewed as a substitute for coffee when the grounds disappeared, and as the country became more affluent, they became a healthful dessert the children of the south craved. In the 1920s, they were among one of the most loved vegetables. And although recently they have lost some of their popularity, they continue to appear every Thanksgiving as a welcome and nutritious addition to a fat-filled feast.