Eating Sweet Potato Leaves

To my surprise, our neighbors in Covenant Place wanted very much to pick sweet potato leaves. They said it was good to eat.

WHAT??? I had NO idea sweet potato leaves were edible!

I looked it up on the internet.

It turned out the entire sweet potato plant is edible, even the stems! Sweet potato roots are a good source of carbohydrates, while sweet­ potato tops (leaves and stems) contain additional nutritional components in much higher concentrations than in many other commercial vegetables. Sweet potato leaves are rich in ß­carotene (Vitamin A), iron, calcium, zinc and protein. Sweet­ potato also contains dietary fiber, lipid and ash. It contains essential mineral nutri­ents such as P, Mg, Na, K, S, Cu, Mn, Al and B. Sweet potato is also an important source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin (all Vitamin B), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and many other functional compounds. Benefits of sweet potato leaves include: antioxidative activity (protection from diseases linked to oxidation such as cancer, allergies, aging, HIV and cardiovascular problems), reduction of liver injury, antimutagenicity (prevents cells from mutating), antihypertension, antimicrobial activity, anti­inflammation, promotion of bowel movement, anti­diabetic effect, anticaries effect, and ultraviolet protection effect.

Isn’t that amazing! Why don’t we see the leaves in the grocery stores?

Sweet potato leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Sweet potato leaves should be refrigerated and cooked immediately so as not to lose vitamins to air. Prepare sweet potato tops by boiling, steaming or stir-­frying to preserve nutrients. Save the liquid they are cooked in for other uses. While cooking vegetables leads to slight nutrient losses, heat also helps activate some plant enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants. Boiling the sweet potato vine leaves in a small amount of water removes any toughness or bitterness. Once the sweet potato greens are tender, chop the leaves and use them in recipes or sauté them with butter and garlic, then splash the hot sweet potato greens with soy sauce or vinegar and a dash of salt.

We are now going to supply the food pantry with the heretofore unexpected food source. Additionally, I’m going to try some sweet potato leaves. How about you?

Want more information about gardening programs in the community? Read the Gateway Greening Blog by clicking here!

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