The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) ranks the sweet potato as the No. 1 most nutritional vegetable and rated it significantly higher in nutrients than the Idaho potato, spinach, or broccoli.
The sweet potato or sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young shoots and leaves are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is distantly related to the common potato (Solanum tuberosum), both being in the order Solanales.
The plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The stems are usually crawling on the ground and form adventitious roots at the nodes. The leaves are screwed along the stems. The leaf stalk is 5 to 20 inches long. The leaf blades are very variable, 5 to 13 centimeters long, the shape is heart-, kidney- to egg-shaped, rounded or triangular and spear-shaped, the edge can be entire, toothed or often three to seven times lobed, cut or divided. Most of the leaf surfaces are bare, rarely hairy, the tip is rounded to pointed. The leaves are mostly green in color, but due to the accumulation of anthocyanins, especially along the leaf veins, they can be purple in color. Depending on the variety, the total length of a stem can be between 0.5 and 4 meters. Some cultivars also form shoots up to 16 meters in length. However, these do not form underground storage organs.
The plant does not tolerate frost. It grows best at an average temperature of 24 °C (75 °F), with abundant sunshine and warm nights. Annual rainfalls of 750–1,000 mm (30–39 in) are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 500 mm (20 in) in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting, and it is not tolerant to water-logging, as it may cause tuber rots and reduce the growth of storage roots if aeration is poor.
Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in two to nine months. With care, early-maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual summer crop in temperate areas
Potato cultivation in Nigeria
In Agriculture in Nigeria, Potato is the third most important root and tuber crop after yam and cassava. It was introduced to Nigeria by European miners around the 1940’s, and with a total yield of 180 tonnes then, its cultivation has come a long way with yields of over 1,000,000 tons in 2012 harvested from over 300,000 hectares of farmland. With a need for a temperature between 150C and 300C, potato is majorly cultivated in Plateau state, although it can be planted on the highlands of the Obudu Plateau in Cross River and Mambilla Plateau in Borno State. During the harmattan season (months), potatoes can be successfully planted in other northern states like Borno, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, Jigawa, Gombe, Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi, and Kebbi under an irrigation-fed system.
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Different varieties of sweet potato
Versatile and ideal for preparing a plethora of recipes, their compact flesh is great for cooking in the oven, accompanied by a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary. Their hefty consistency is also great for preparing potato gnocchi and creative summer salads.
Orange sweet potatoes.
Orange sweet potatoes are the most common type found in U.S. supermarkets. They’re reddish-brown on the outside and orange on the inside.
When compared to regular white potatoes, orange sweet potatoes have a higher fiber content. This gives them a lower GI and makes them a healthier option for people with diabetes.
Some studies indicate Trusted Source that boiled orange sweet potatoes have a lower GI value compared to baking or roasting them.
Purple sweet potatoes
Purple sweet potatoes are lavender-colored on the inside and outside. They are sometimes marketed under the names Stokes Purple and Okinawan potatoes.
Purple sweet potatoes have a lower GL than orange sweet potatoes. In addition to nutrients, purple sweet potatoes also contain anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are a polyphenolic compound that studies indicate Trusted Source may reverse or prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes risk by improving insulin resistance.
A review of studies found that anthocyanins work in the body via multiple mechanisms, including reduction of carbohydrate digestion in the gut.
Japanese sweet potatoes
Japanese sweet potatoes (Satsuma Imo) are sometimes referred to as white sweet potatoes, even though they’re purple on the outside and yellow on the inside. This strain of sweet potato contains caiapo.
A study found that caiapo extract was able to significantly reduce fasting and two-hour blood glucose levels in subjects when compared with placebo. Caiapo was also shown to reduce cholesterol.
Potatoes are a good source of fiber, which can help you lose weight by keeping you full longer. Fiber can help prevent heart disease by keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. Potatoes are also full of antioxidants that work to prevent diseases and vitamins that help your body function properly.
Potatoes aren’t usually thought of as nutritious. However, this all-purpose vegetable has some surprising health and nutrition benefits. Although french fries and potato skins may be heavy in fat and calories, the potato itself is fat and cholesterol-free as well as low in sodium. Prepared the right way, potatoes can make a delicious, satisfying, and healthy dish
In addition, potatoes can provide the following health benefits:
The fiber found in potatoes is a special type called “resistant starch,” which has the health benefits of both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber and causes less gas than other types of fiber. You can up the amount of resistant starch in potatoes by cooking them a day ahead of time and cooling them in the fridge overnight. Feel free to reheat them before you eat.
Like soluble fiber, the resistant starch in potatoes acts as a prebiotic – food for good bacteria in the large intestine that improves gut health. Like insoluble fiber, it can prevent or treat constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
Potatoes are packed with antioxidants — compounds that fight free radicals from causing damage to your cells. A diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Sweet potatoes are also memory-enhancing foods
Studies have shown that the anthocyanin contained in the purple sweet potato possesses memory-enhancing properties. The underlying belief here is that the antioxidant properties of the anthocyanins are what make sweet potatoes memory-enhancing agents.
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