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Because of its nutritional value and aroma, the sweet potato is one of the most popular tubers in your own garden and on your plate. Ipomoea batatas is used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Many nutrients are lost when heated and for this reason many people wonder if it is possible to eat sweet potatoes raw. Just as often, the question arises as to whether the peel is edible.
Eat sweet potatoes raw
You do not have to worry. Despite the name, sweet potatoes are safe to eat raw. Above all, the ingredients provide information, which shows that there are no toxins in the tubers:
- Vitamins A, C, E
- Antioxidants: carotenoids, anthocyanins
- Minerals: calcium, iron, zinc
As you can see, the plants do not produce the toxic solanine found in numerous species of the nightshade family (bot. Solanaceae). Potatoes (bot. Solanum tuberosum) and tomatoes (bot. Solanum lycopersicum) are among the best-known representatives that have the substance. Because of the name, many people assume that sweet potatoes also contain solanine, but the tubers are only distantly related to potatoes.
Sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory genus (bot. Ipomoea) within the morning glory family (bot. Convolvulaceae), which in turn belong to the order Solanales (bot. Solanales). Solanine is not trained within the entire family. Even better: the ingredients of the tubers have a much more effective effect on your body when eaten raw:
- stress reducing
- Blood sugar level is regulated
- optimized fluid balance
- strengthened immune system
- anti-inflammatory effect
- Risk of heart attack is reduced
- Risk of stroke is reduced
If you boil, fry or bake the sweet potatoes, a large part of the ingredients are lost due to the heat. So if you eat the tubers raw, you can make ideal use of them. The characteristic taste changes only slightly, because raw sweet potatoes taste a little fresher and less sweet.
tip: Modern cultivated varieties of Ipomoea batatas contain extremely small amounts of hydrocyanic acid, which are harmless even in the raw state. If you plant an old variety from South America instead, you have to reckon with significantly higher levels of hydrocyanic acid.
Problem oxalic acid
The only downside to raw sweet potatoes is the oxalic acid they contain. Ipomoea batatas contains high amounts of the dicarboxylic acid and for this reason at least one of the following three points should be observed when eating:
- consume small amounts
- decrease oxalic acid
- suitable accompanying foods
If you don't want to consume too much oxalic acid, just eat less raw sweet potato. Side effects from oxalic acid can only occur from large quantities or regular consumption. To reduce the effect, you should eat appropriate foods that weaken the acidity. Foods containing calcium are suitable for this, as the acid binds the minerals. If higher amounts of calcium are present, this does not have a negative effect on the body. The following foods are recommended:
- Dairy products (cheese especially effective)
- rice and oat milk
Even classic mineral water can help against oxalic acid. The third option is to soak the washed and halved sweet potatoes. To do this, they first have to be freed from rotten spots and then placed in a water bath. They remain in this for at least 30 minutes before they are used. Finally, you should wash and dry the tubers again. Now you can eat the sweet potato raw without the oxalic acid immediately taking over. With these methods, you prevent the formation of kidney stones, which are typical of too much oxalic acid.
notice: According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington D.C. Batata is considered the healthiest vegetable in the world. Despite the oxalic acid, the amount of ingredients is so high that enjoying it heated up is less recommended than the raw tuber.
Eat a sweet potato with its skin on
Did you know that you can even leave the skin on and save yourself the hassle of peeling? Not only the pulp can be eaten raw, the skin is also one of the edible parts of the Ipomoea batatas. So you can eat the sweet potato with the skin on without hesitation. It provides you with other ingredients that are not contained in the pulp:
- high vitamin content
Especially the fabric Caiapo is to be mentioned here. This is an ingredient found exclusively in the skin of sweet potatoes and is a form of glycoprotein. The substance has anti-diabetic properties and should therefore have a positive effect on the diet of those affected. However, researchers disagree as to whether the substance can be used medicinally. In addition to the anti-diabetic properties, the following effects are said to have been found when taking Caiapo:
- regulates high cholesterol levels
Eating the raw skins is not for everyone, as they taste a bit more bitter than the aromatic pulp. In order to be able to enjoy them, you must observe a few points so that the taste is not negatively affected:
- Buy organic sweet potatoes
- clean with vegetable brush
- cut out bad spots
You should always use organically grown sweet potatoes if you want to eat the skins raw. As a result, you do not absorb any toxic pesticides that can damage you in the long term. Since sweet potatoes, like other tubers, store most of the chemicals in their skins, these are easily passed on to the organism. Alternatively, use home-grown sweet potatoes.
notice: People with a sensitive stomach or chronic digestive problems should eat raw sweet potato skins in moderation, as they can be quite heavy. Due to the high amount of fiber, some people find the sweet potato skins difficult to digest, which can lead to bloating or abdominal pain.