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Although people often think of sweet potatoes as a Thanksgiving side dish, these root vegetables are available year-round. They're becoming more popular, too: sweet potato consumption rose by nearly 42% between 2000 and 2016, according to the USDA.
The many varieties of sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. The skins range in hue from almost white to dark red, with a few types sporting purple skin. Those unusual varieties may also have lavender or purple flesh. But the most common flesh colors range from white to deep orange.
When cooked, some sweet potato varieties stay firm, while others soften. These "soft" varieties are often referred to as yams. But true yams (from the African word nyami) belong to an entirely different plant family related to lilies and grasses.
Nutritional info: Sweet potatoes are higher in beta carotene than many other vegetables and are a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C.
Easy recipe: Pierce sweet potato skins several times with a fork. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400° F until tender, about 45 minutes.
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