Don’t let those disgustingly sugary Thanksgiving-day dishes fool you. Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, ideal whether you're trying to cut carbs and lose weight—or bulk up and build muscle. What, exactly, are these fiber-rich root vegetables packing?
- Carotenoids: plant compounds that squelch cell damage caused by everyday living—and challenging workouts.
- Vitamin E: an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease.
- Potassium: a mineral necessary for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, bone health, water balance, and normal blood pressure. (It’s got more than bananas, believe it or not.)
- Copper: it assists in the production of collagen, which is responsible for keeping muscles healthy and skin taut.
- Quercetin: research shoes this potent phytonutrient may help you breathe easier by warding off allergies, hay fever, and asthma.
So how do you work them into your diet? First, buy firm, medium-size sweet potatoes or yams without any cracks, bruises or soft spots. (Pro tip: in most American grocery stores, yams and sweet potatoes are actually the same thing.) Then, find some fun ways to cook them up.
For six easy recipes to get you started, check out the slideshow above.