Sweet potato is unique among comfort foods for its Kapha pacifying lightness. This tuber is beneficial even for those with heavy digestive symptoms. Unlike dairy products, potatoes, and other common comfort foods like pasta, sweet potatoes feel light in the stomach, while still being nourishing. Sweet potato is supportive for digestion and contains ample fiber to encourage good elimination. Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, which means these roots can satisfy the appetite for long stretches. Despite the name "sweet," it may be a beneficial food for diabetics as preliminary studies revealed it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene, a Pitta pacifying precursor to vitamin A. Its increased cultivation is encouraged in Africa, where vitamin-A deficiency is a serious health problem. Sweet potatoes are diuretic and can provoke people with Vata symptoms of dryness.Yams are a good alternative to sweet potatoes for those with too much dryness. Sweet potato comes from the morning glory family. Many members of this family contain psychotropics and hallucinogens.
Scott Blossom, in a unique interview with Joyful Belly, says "They facilitate lymphatic circulation. Pretty much all the roots due, the bitter ones are even better. A close second of course is turmeric of course. In the winter time especially I love root vegetables. The kind of carbohydrates they provide is so easy to digest it's really malleable to lots of different flavors you can use many spices with it. My kids love it. It's a great side dish to any meal including breakfast. Yams are feminine in the sense that they encourage ojas, deep juice in the system, deep healing and integration in the system. It makes me happy to eat them."
Watch the video interview with Scott Blossom
Buying & Preparation
When buying sweet potatoes, look for those with deep-orange flesh. The deeper and darker the color, the richer it is in beta-carotene and other nutrients. The sweet potato is often mislabeled as "yam" in North America. In order to avoid confusion, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires sweet potatoes labeled as yams to also be labeled as sweet potatoes. If you are a sweet potato fan, don't miss the National Sweet Potato Festival, held annually the first week of November in Vardaman, Miss., which proclaims itself as the sweet potato capital of the United States. There is a hint of rose flavor in the tips of sweet potatoes. These tips should be removed before cooking.
Cooking Sweet Potato
Next to the stuffed turkey, nothing conjures Thanksgiving more than grandma's sweet potato casserole whether candied with maple syrup, topped with roasted pecans, or served mashed with butter. Scott Blossom describes his love of Yams as a veggie-mance, or vegetable romance. In his words:
"I ate one yesterday morning. I love to bake them because they caramelize. There's always this sense of wonder as I'm opening a sweet potato wrapped in foil. I love to see if it's actually created this caramel, the brown, slightly sticky sweet juice that's with the potato. I'm always blown away that it can make its own caramel. The smell of that caramel is the first thing that greats me when I approach a yam.
Then, as I take a bite I always notice a sour flavor. The caramelized sugars will also have a slight sour flavor. There is a sweet sour balance. My mother in law always likes to put a bit of orange zest with the sweet potato. That citrus-y flavor always works well with it because the yam itself already has a sour note. It has an earthy but subtle and refreshing flavor because of the sweet and sour quality mix. If you overdue it with the butter and spices you don't get that. But when you have them plain you may notice that little note of sour. It's another heavenly gift that makes yam as good as any fruit. Note that so many fruits also have that same balance of sweet and sour.
Then when it hits my stomach it's so nourishing and warm. It is soft and soothing to my stomach. Yam immediately gives me a sense of strength and grounded vitality. Further, they are so easy to digest. I just never have any problem digesting a yam. They seem to help other foods digest. I like when I cook them in combination with other foods. They are truly a 'peacemaker in the belly.' To speak to your website it makes my belly joyful."
The large, starchy sweet potato is an important and nourishing vegetable in many countries. As an ingredient in cakes in Spain, a fried street food in Cairo, a sweet jelly in South America, and a snack dish in Southeast Asia, all across the globe, sweet potato is a staple food throughout winter. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. However, it is the root that offers the versatility and nutritional integrity to many diets worldwide.
Sweet potatoes are a popular alternative to potatoes in chips and french fries in the United States. Sweet potato pie is a popular Southern dish. In many African and Asian countries, sweet potatoes can be found as a popular street food and household staple. It is often cooked in rich, fatty, sweet combinations to nourish through the lean, cold calendar months. As a heavy, sweet food, it is either roasted or fried and served with honey, sugar, coconut milk or peanut sauces to provide important fats. In addition, sweet potato is sometimes dried and ground up to use as a flour. In India, during important religious observances in which many foods are restricted, sweet potato provides a prime source of sustenance. Paired with ginger in dumplings and snacks, sweet potatoes are a favorite feast food for religious holidays in Japan and other south-east Asian countries.
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Is Sweet Potato Good for My Ayurvedic Diet?
Find out by taking this free, easy quiz.
You'll learn your body type, and whether 'Sweet Potato' is a good fit.
Complete the basic quiz in 1 minute, or go deeper with additional quizzes at your own leisure to learn more about your body.
AYURVEDA'S GUIDE TO VITALITY & WHOLESOME NOURISHMENT
Your Ayurvedic diet is tailored to your individual body and your specific imbalances.
With an Ayurvedic diet you feel joy and satisfaction because what you are eating truly nourishes and balances you.
Disease results from diets and lifestyles that are incompatible with your nature.
By eating a personalized diet matched to your body, you experience optimal health.
See How it Works.
Functional Ayurveda helps you assess imbalances through 20 main biocharacteristics
Aggravating these characteristics weakens your body and causes imbalance.
By knowing which characteristics are habitually imbalanced in your body, you will be able to identify and correct imbalances before you get sick.
Every characteristic has an opposite which balances it (i.e. hot balances cold).
You restore balance by favoring diet and lifestyle choices that increase the opposite characteristic.
Taste is used to sense the most basic properties and effects of food.
Each taste has a specific medicinal effect on your body.
Cravings for food with certain tastes indicate your body is craving specific medicinal results from food.
Taste is experienced on the tongue and represents your body's reaction to foods.
Sweet taste causes physical satisfaction and attraction whereas bitter taste causes discomfort and aversion.
Kapha should use less sweet taste while Vata and Pitta would benefit from using more sweet taste.
One of the first signs of illness is that your taste and appetite for food changes.
The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
Do you crave foods with any of the tastes below?
According to the biocharacteristic theory of medicine,
people tend to get sick, over and over again, due to habitual causes and imbalances that are unique to the person.
Your body type summarizes this tendency, showing you the 'type' of conditions and imbalances that frequently challenge your health & wellness.
Using body type, you can also identify remedies likely to improve your strength and resiliency.
Your body type identifies physical and mental characteristics as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses.
The calculation of your body type is based on your medical history.
The 3 functional body types
are Catabolic (Vata), Metabolic (Pitta), and Anabolic (Kapha).
Catabolic individuals tend to break down body mass into energy. They are easily stimulated, hyperactive, underweight and dry.
Metabolic individuals tend to burn or use energy. They tend to be rosy-cheeked, easily irritated, focused, driven, and easily inflamed.
Anabolic individuals tend to store energy as body mass. If they store too much energy, they could gain weight easily and have congestion. Anabolic people tend to be stable and grounded.
Medicinal Benefits, Uses & Herbal Actions of Sweet Potato
Experiences are Personal
Experiences vary according to the person and constitution. Individual results may vary.
The list of herbal-actions below has not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
Encourages feelings of stability and heaviness. Makes you feel settled, mentally relaxed. Mildly sedates the nervous system to ease stress. Can bring a spacey or anxious person back to earth. Reduces agitation, irritation, stress and racing thoughts.
Restores the proper function of the body by cleansing the blood and balancing blood chemistry. In Ayurveda terms, they pacify Pitta in rakta. They were traditionally used to revitalize and detoxify after a long winter.
An herb that strengthens the liver. It is helpful for people with a history of substance abuse, chronic liver issues from hepatitis and hemolytic anemias. Generally, liver tonics are oily, cool, sweet, mildly sour, or contain beta-carotene.
Sweet Potato may be beneficial for these symptoms. The suitability of any food for a condition is highly dependent on the individual.
Please see your doctor before using this food to treat a medical condition.
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. Food digests with ease when
right for your body type (dosha). Healthy digestion is seen as the cornerstone of well-being in
Ayurveda. Healthy digestion generally prevents illness. If you do get sick, a strong digestive fire
reduces the severity of illness and increases your resilience. It also improves your mood. Once
you begin eating Ayurvedically, you will feel refreshed, vital and strong.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics.
His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda,
offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel,
as well as public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem.
His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.
Many grocers don't distinguish yams from sweet potatoes. Yams are more moist, orange colored, Vata reducing, and Kapha increasing. Sweet potatoes have more dry, astringent quality and lighter color. Sweet potatoes are best minimized for Vata. In constipation favor yams. Sweet potatoes are better than yams for Kapha. The recipe works for both nicely!