July 22nd, 2021

Camote, commonly known as Sweet Potato, or in New Zealand where I come from Kumara, is a very nutrient dense root vegetable that is much better for your health than the regular potato.


The camote, which comes in over 6000 varieties, can range in shape and color from orange, red, white and purple. It contains such a large range of amazing health promoting nutrients that it is classified as a superfood along with kale and acai berries! 


So, what really is a ‘superfood’? Even though there are no set criteria for determining what makes a food ‘super’, most superfoods you will come across are plant based, and earn the label of being ‘super’ due to their health promoting benefits. Superfoods such as camote contain a wide range of phytonutrients (giving plant their colour), vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. 


The camote is very high in beta carotene (Vitamin A) and with just one serving provides up to 400% of your Vitamin A needs for the day. Additionally, camote is also very high in Vitamins B and C, and minerals; Calcium, Mangesium, Maganese, Copper, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc. Being high in these vitamins and minerals means that the camote has been shown to be helpful in encouraging healthy vision, skin, immune function, reproduction function, cancer prevention, cartilage and bone health, brain health, lowering of blood pressure as well as blood cholesterol and even blood sugar levels! 


The richer the color of the camote the more natural health promoting compounds it contains. Compounds such as carotenoids and anthocyanins which are the plant pigments giving the rich colors, also have strong antioxidant properties, which can help to protect the body’s cells from damage and have anti-inflammatory effects. 


One of its most interesting health benefits the ability camote has is to help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Unlike potatoes, camote is low in glycemic index (GI) meaning it causes a slow release of the sugars from the vegetable, and thus the slow release of energy. Not only is it low in GI, but it is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which helps us to feel fuller for longer and slows the blood sugar released into the blood stream, causing less blood sugar spikes. Lastly, due to camote being high in the mineral Magnesium, it specifically assists in the management of insulin and carbohydrate metabolism, as it is involved in the body’s ability to secrete insulin which helps cells use insulin more effectively.


So, go ahead and get your hands on these amazing superfoods! Just make sure to choose one that is free of bruises, cracks, or soft spots, and that they feel nice and firm. Pick the color you prefer, but keep in mind the richer the color the more health benefits! Always store in a dark cool place and they will keep for about ten days. 


Try this super salad recipe to get the most out of this sweet vegetable!


Serves 2

2 large Camotes

½ small red onion

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp Himalayan salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

1 orange 

2-4 handfuls of rocket leaves 

¼ cup walnuts or pecans 

¼ tsp paprika


2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp wholegrain mustard 

2 tsp honey

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 200°C. Peel and cube the camote, and chop the red onion, placing both on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Distribute evenly on the baking paper, and bake for 20 minutes until the camote is tender. Let cool before adding the rest of the ingredients. 


Place the cooled camote mix into a large bowl, and mix in the rocket leaves, crushed nuts, and chopped orange.  


Mix the dressing ingredients; lemon juice, mustard, honey, and olive oil and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference. Top the dressing on the salad, combine well and enjoy the superfood benefits!