Sweet potato

What is Sweet potato?

Sweet potatoes are starchy, root vegetables that belong to the Convolvulaceae family. They are grown in many parts of the world and are known for their distinctively sweet taste. These tuberous crops have rough outer skin that can vary in color, ranging from orange, red, and purple, to beige. The flesh inside is usually creamy white or vibrant orange, depending on the variety. Sweet potatoes are often mistaken for yams, but they are different plants and belong to separate botanical families.

The cultivation of sweet potatoes dates back thousands of years, with their origins traced to Central and South America. They were introduced to other parts of the world by early European explorers. These hardy plants can thrive in a variety of climates and soil conditions, making them a versatile crop. They are typically harvested when the vines have withered, revealing the tubers beneath the ground. Sweet potatoes are known for their ability to store well, which makes them a reliable food source during the winter months.

Sweet potatoes have long been a staple in many cuisines around the world. They can be prepared and cooked in numerous ways, ranging from baking, boiling, roasting, or frying. The taste and texture of sweet potatoes make them a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. They can be mashed, pureed, or used as an ingredient in soups, stews, and casseroles. The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes also makes them a popular choice for desserts, such as pies, cakes, and puddings.

In addition to their culinary uses, sweet potatoes have also found applications in non-food industries. The starch extracted from sweet potatoes is used in the production of textiles, adhesives, and biodegradable plastics. The leaves of the sweet potato plant are sometimes consumed as a leafy green vegetable, while the vines are used as animal feed. Furthermore, sweet potatoes are valued for their ornamental qualities and are grown as decorative plants in gardens and landscapes.

Overall, sweet potatoes are versatile, nutritious, and delicious root vegetables that have a long history of cultivation and consumption. Their natural sweetness and adaptability in various dishes make them a popular choice in many cuisines around the world. Whether enjoyed as a main ingredient in a hearty meal or used creatively in desserts, sweet potatoes continue to be a beloved and versatile component of global culinary traditions.

Sweet potato Production in the World

China is the top country producing Sweet potato in the world. As of 2022, China produced 46,604,009 tonnes of Sweet potato, accounting for 53.93% of the total production. Malawi is the world's second-largest Sweet potato producer, with 8,051,118 tonnes, which represents 9.32% of the total production. In terms of Sweet potato yield, Guyana is the most productive country on the planet with 1,033,824. The United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria, and Angola are the top three leading countries with '4,259,620', '4,011,035', '1,873,002', and '1,372,745' tonnes respectively. Kuwait has the lowest production of Sweet potatoes in the world with only 25 tonnes in 2022. The world's total production of sweet potatoes was estimated at 86,410,355 tonnes in 2022.

Source: FAOSTAT

Top 10 Countries by Sweet potato Production in 2022

Top Countries by Production of Sweet potato in 2022

Rank Country production(Tonnes) acreage(Hectare) Yield
1
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China
46,604,0092,148,111216,953
2
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Malawi
8,051,118335,783239,771
3
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The United Republic of Tanzania
4,259,620576,19673,927
4
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Nigeria
4,011,0351,508,51426,589
5
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Angola
1,873,002189,37898,903
6
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Rwanda
1,372,745189,43572,465
7
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Uganda
1,337,512314,25042,562
8
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India
1,184,000107,000110,654
9
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United States of America
1,176,48353,500219,903
10
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Madagascar
1,132,742133,33484,956
11
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Ethiopia
1,000,57643,685229,044
12
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Vietnam
976,12285,821113,740
13
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Indonesia
875,00047,444184,430
14
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Brazil
847,10058,229145,477
15
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Burundi
807,86171,685112,695
16
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Japan
710,70032,300220,031
17
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Papua New Guinea
710,121139,02651,078
18
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Kenya
650,00047,468136,935
19
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Democratic Republic of the Congo
591,101117,91950,128
20
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Cameroon
579,88389,01065,148
21
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Democratic People's Republic of Korea
566,60141,441136,725
22
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Philippines
558,32182,87967,366
23
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Mozambique
510,23883,64661,000
24
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Egypt
508,31414,775344,042
25
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Mali
452,19330,359148,949
26
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Guinea
384,05373,15352,500
27
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Republic of Korea
332,84522,760146,243
28
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Bangladesh
303,71028,940104,945
29
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Sierra Leone
286,11834,56382,781
30
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Peru
275,99515,263180,830
31
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Cuba
267,08532,32282,634
32
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Sudan
266,98734,79076,743
33
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Niger
233,6977,376316,826
34
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Taiwan
224,6919,177244,845
35
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Chad
218,01531,98468,164
36
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Ghana
142,67178,34018,212
37
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Zambia
132,44239,68433,374
38
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Lao People's Democratic Republic
128,2407,390173,532
39
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Argentina
119,0929,563124,530
40
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Burkina Faso
115,5809,880116,982
41
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Haiti
111,66248,75522,903
42
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Senegal
110,6002,496443,179
43
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Solomon Islands
108,1967,688140,733
44
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Equatorial Guinea
103,74919,21853,987
45
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South Africa
87,64733,00826,553
46
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Uruguay
81,4338,36497,364
47
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Mexico
81,0954,093198,116
48
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Australia
77,0591,943396,568
49
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Zimbabwe
62,79320,09131,255
50
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Myanmar
62,7126,72893,213
51
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Dominican Republic
62,2437,25685,780
52
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Jamaica
60,4663,479173,803
53
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Côte d'Ivoire
58,68433,48917,523
54
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Benin
56,59010,59753,404
55
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Paraguay
51,6345,084101,556
56
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Sri Lanka
45,0404,109109,613
57
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Malaysia
44,6872,643169,044
58
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Guinea-Bissau
40,7388,15549,957
59
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Cambodia
40,3054,95481,354
60
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Israel
32,6421,992163,865
61
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Honduras
25,3424,16060,917
62
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Liberia
24,3942,187111,541
63
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Guyana
21,1402041,033,824
64
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Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
20,1392,07097,270
65
Flag
Chile
15,0891,410107,026
66
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Pakistan
14,1341,63786,341
67
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New Zealand
11,8651,22097,248
68
Flag
Morocco
11,710560209,107
69
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Fiji
10,7711,34680,000
70
Flag
Comoros
10,5722,25046,988
71
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Togo
9,9192,73836,227
72
Flag
Congo
9,1911,27871,907
73
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Somalia
8,65687399,179
74
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Tonga
6,56466099,391
75
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Mauritania
5,2652,78218,924
76
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Timor-Leste
4,6021,83525,083
77
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Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
4,5121,07342,059
78
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Ecuador
4,1242,09419,691
79
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Gabon
3,9152,01519,431
80
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Micronesia (Federated States of)
3,11856755,000
81
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Cabo Verde
2,802195143,692
82
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Barbados
2,54397261,810
83
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Eswatini
2,4991,33618,701
84
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Palestine
2,38987273,711
85
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Dominica
2,31438560,074
86
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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
1,822179101,531
87
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Bahamas
1,77051834,167
88
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Mauritius
1,759115152,957
89
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Costa Rica
1,71157529,778
90
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Botswana
1,16969168,558
91
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Trinidad and Tobago
1,16519360,363
92
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El Salvador
75012958,110
93
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Saint Lucia
72331230,000
94
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Grenada
67524127,994
95
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New Caledonia
56639914,207
96
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Puerto Rico
4404989,136
97
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Suriname
40826155,022
98
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Yemen
3253983,177
99
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Cook Islands
30011274,812
100
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Panama
28320141,563
101
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Brunei Darussalam
2773676,694
102
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Niue
25216154,566
103
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Belize
2314848,125
104
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Guatemala
1812864,704
105
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Antigua and Barbuda
1453640,097
106
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Saint Kitts and Nevis
1262354,169
107
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Hong Kong
625131,522
108
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Bhutan
281518,849
109
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Kuwait
25377,067

Cultivation of Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are tropical crop that requires warm weather and well-drained soil. Here are some general steps for cultivating sweet potatoes:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Sweet potatoes grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. They require warm temperatures and can be sensitive to frost, so it's important to choose a location with a long growing season.
  2. Prepare the soil: Sweet potatoes prefer loose, well-drained soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. Before planting, the soil should be amended with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and fertility.
  3. Plant the sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes can be started from slips, which are small sprouts that grow from the eyes of the sweet potato. These can be purchased from a nursery or propagated from a mature sweet potato. Plant the slips in rows, spacing them about 12 to 18 inches apart and covering the roots with soil.
  4. Provide adequate water: Sweet potatoes require regular watering throughout the growing season, especially during hot, dry weather. It's important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
  5. Control weeds: Weeds can compete with sweet potatoes for nutrients and water, so it's important to keep the area around the plants free of weeds. This can be done through hand-weeding or the use of mulch.
  6. Harvest the sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are typically ready to harvest about 100 to 120 days after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. The potatoes can be dug up carefully with a fork, taking care not to damage the roots. They should be cured in a warm, dry place for about 7 to 10 days before storing.

With proper care and maintenance, sweet potatoes can be a rewarding and delicious crop to grow in your garden or farm.

Health Benefits of Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes offer a range of health benefits due to their rich nutritional profile. Here are some key health benefits associated with consuming sweet potatoes:

  1. High in antioxidants: Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, which gives them their vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in the body and acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including certain cancers.
  2. Good for digestive health: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber promotes healthy digestion, prevents constipation, and supports a healthy gut microbiome. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes satiety, and aids in weight management.
  3. Supports immune function: The high levels of vitamin A found in sweet potatoes contribute to a healthy immune system. Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes, which act as a barrier against harmful pathogens. It also supports the production of white blood cells that help fight off infections.
  4. Promotes heart health: Sweet potatoes are a heart-healthy food choice. They are naturally low in fat and sodium, and their fiber content helps reduce cholesterol levels. Additionally, sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and maintain proper heart function.
  5. Anti-inflammatory properties: Sweet potatoes contain several compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, including anthocyanins and other antioxidants. These properties may help reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with various chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
  6. Nutrient-rich and low in calories: Sweet potatoes are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium. Despite their rich nutrient content, sweet potatoes are relatively low in calories and can be a satisfying addition to a balanced diet.

It's important to note that individual nutritional needs and health conditions may vary. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is recommended to determine the best dietary choices for your specific needs and goals.

Nutritional Information of Sweet potato

Here is the nutritional information for sweet potatoes per 100 grams:

  • Calories: 86 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 20.1 grams
  • Protein: 1.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin A: 283% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 3.1% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 10% of the DV
  • Potassium: 7% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 4% of the DV

Sweet potatoes are a highly nutritious option due to their abundance of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Notably, they are recognized for their impressive vitamin A content, as just one serving can contribute a substantial portion towards the recommended daily intake. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal vision, bolstering immune function, and facilitating cell growth.

Regional variety of Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes exhibit a wide range of regional varieties, each with its own unique characteristics and preferred uses. Here are a few examples:

  1. Beauregard Sweet Potato (United States): This variety is one of the most popular sweet potatoes in the United States. It has reddish-orange skin and vibrant orange flesh. Beauregard sweet potatoes are versatile and can be used in various culinary applications, including baking, roasting, mashing, and even making sweet potato fries.
  2. Stokes Purple Sweet Potato (United States): Known for its vibrant purple skin and flesh, the Stokes Purple sweet potato is a visually striking variety. It has a slightly nutty flavor and maintains its color even after cooking. This variety is often used in desserts, such as pies, cakes, and puddings, as well as in savory dishes like roasted vegetables or mashed sweet potatoes.
  3. Japanese Sweet Potato (Japan): Also referred to as Satsumaimo, Japanese sweet potatoes have reddish-brown skin and yellowish flesh. They have a naturally sweet flavor and a moist, creamy texture. In Japan, they are commonly enjoyed as a baked or steamed snack, used in traditional desserts, or added to savory dishes like stews and soups.
  4. Boniato Sweet Potato (Latin America and the Caribbean): Boniato sweet potatoes have light brown or tan skin and white flesh. They have a slightly drier texture and a mildly sweet taste. In Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, boniato sweet potatoes are often used in savory dishes, such as soups, and stews, and as a side dish in various preparations, including boiling, baking, or frying.

These are just a few examples of regional sweet potato varieties and their respective uses. The versatility of sweet potatoes allows them to be utilized in an array of culinary creations, both sweet and savory, across different cultures and cuisines.

Structure of Sweet potato

The sweet potato is a root vegetable, and its structure consists of several parts:

  1. Skin: The skin of a sweet potato can be brown, purple, red, or beige, depending on the variety. The skin is thin and smooth, with a slightly rough texture.
  2. Flesh: The flesh of a sweet potato is typically orange, but it can also be white or purple. The flesh is firm and starchy, with a sweet flavor.
  3. Eyes: Sweet potatoes have several small "eyes" on their surface, which are the points where new shoots can grow if the potato is planted.
  4. Sprouts: If a sweet potato is left in storage for too long, it may begin to sprout. The sprouts are small, green shoots that grow from the eyes of the potato.
  5. Roots: The roots of a sweet potato grow from the bottom of the potato and anchor it in the soil. The roots are long, thin, and fibrous.

Overall, the structure of a sweet potato is simple, but its various parts work together to create a nutritious and flavorful root vegetable.

Types of Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes come in a wide range, and each one has a distinctive appearance, flavor, and nutritional profile. Here are a few popular sweet potato varieties:

  1. Beauregard: In the US, this is one of the most widely consumed sweet potato kinds. It tastes sweet and has orange flesh and skin.
  2. Jewel: The flesh and skin of this type are both vivid oranges. It is renowned for its juicy texture and sweet flavor.
  3. Garnet: This type has a rich, sweet flavor and vivid red skin. Its flesh possesses a vivid orange hue as well.
  4. Hannah: The meat of this type is creamy white with tan skin. Compared to some of the other sweet potato types, it has a milder flavour.
  5. Japanese sweet potato: Purple-skinned Japanese sweet potatoes have a sweet, nutty flavour. It has a creamy white colour to its flesh.
  6. White sweet potato: This type has white flesh and light tan skin. It is less sweet than other sweet potato types and has a mildly sweet, nutty flavour.

There are numerous additional sweet potato types, each with a distinctive flavour and appearance. Depending on the kind, sweet potatoes' nutritional value can also change.

Uses of Sweet potato

Vegetables that may be utilized in a variety of ways include sweet potatoes since they are adaptable and healthy.

Here are some typical applications for sweet potatoes:

  1. Cooking: Sweet potatoes are frequently used in savory meals including stews, curries, and casseroles. They can be boiled, baked, roasted, or mashed. Additionally, they can be added to desserts like pies, cakes, and puddings.
  2. Snacks: As a healthier alternative to typical potato chips and fries, sweet potato chips and fries are gaining popularity.
  3. Soups: Pureed sweet potatoes can be used as a foundation for soups and stews.
  4. Salads: Roasted sweet potato cubes are a healthy and eye-catching complement to salads.
  5. Baby food: Sweet potatoes are a popular ingredient in homemade baby food due to their mild flavor and soft texture.
  6. Animal feed: Sweet potatoes can be used as livestock feed, notably for pigs and cattle.
  7. Alcohol: Sweet potatoes can be fermented to make alcohol, such as shochu, a traditional Japanese drink.

Overall, sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious food that may be prepared in a variety of ways, ranging from sweet to savory.