Many, if not all, of you have already had sweet potatoes before. But what about those green leaves that come with them? These greens often get overlooked and chucked aside. Fortunately, most Singaporeans (and Asians and Africans) have found out about one of the world’s richest sources of disease-fighting antioxidants, and have since incorporated them into their meals.
Did you know that sweet potato leaves are actually more nutritious than the sweet potato itself? According to Nutrition & You, comparing the leaves and the sweet potatoes weight for weight (100 g), the fresh sweet potato leaves contain more Iron, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin K, Potassium and less sodium than the sweet potato!
Also Known As
They are just generally known as Sweet Potato Leaves or Sweet Potato Tops. In Philippines, they are known as Talbos ng Kamote or Camote Tops.
Many compare the sweet potato leaves to spinach because of its similar taste and the way they cook down a lot. However, we like to think it has a little more earthy flavour with a slight touch of sweetness. They also have a mild but dense flavour. Also, many have reported that sweet potato leaves do not leave the same “funny, unpleasant astringent feel and taste” in their mouths as compared to regular spinach.
For those who know about the sweet potato leaves, they will know of its high nutritional value. Men’s Health claims that these greens are packed with at least 15 different types of healthy compounds that help fight diabetes, heart disease, bacterial infections, and various forms of cancer!
i) Vitamins – Like most leafy greens, the sweet potato leaves are high in Vitamin A, C and K. They are also rich in Folate (Vitamin B9).
ii) Minerals – These leaves are extremely high in Potassium! There’s also Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Chlorine, with traces of Manganese, Copper and Zinc that can be found in these sweet potato leaves.
iii) Others – They are known to be rich in antioxidants, fighting off cancer cells. In Philippines, it is believed that can help improve breast milk production for lactating mothers who consume sweet potato leaves (it is now a major ingredient of a commercially available food supplement drink there). It is also a folk remedy which is used to treat diarrhea and dizziness.
For those who prefer scholarly works, you may read this PubMed paper about its various nutritional benefits: Sweet Potato Leaves (PubMed)
Consuming the Sweet Potato Leaves
Sweet potato leaves are harvest when they are still young shoots. Because they are so similar to the KangKong it is easy to choose and ensure that they are fresh. While most people prefer to consume just the leaves, stems of this green may be eaten too. Do note that they have to be cooked separately as the stems take a longer time.
Like all fresh produce, make sure to thoroughly wash the leaves under running water to remove dirt and contaminants, then pat it dry with a towel. Separate sweet potato leaves from stems and set aside. Remove and discard large and tough stems from the smaller ones. Roughly chop up the smaller stems and soak them in boiling water for a few minutes. Sauté both leaves and boiled stems with garlic (or belacan) really quickly to prevent loss of essential nutrients.
These leaves are prone to wilting and can’t be kept too long. They are best consumed soon after purchase, and if you have to store them, put them in a sealed bag in the bottom drawer of your fridge.
** We offer both organic sweet potato leaves and organic baby sweet potato leaves here: Organic Sweet Potato Leaves
Feature Image: thisamazingheart.com