Sweet Potato – Batate Doce

Sweet Potato – Batate Doce

Origins

The sweet potato originates in South America.  Indigenous people of Central and South America domesticated this plant about 5000 years ago.  Hence, they ate sweet potato well before their land was “discovered”.  The sweet potato, called batata doce in Portuguese (Ipomoea batatas) is a plant belonging to the bindweed or morning glory family.  Certainly, it consists of large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root which is an edible vegetable.  It is very common on Madeira.

Tubercule grown on Madeira

Some historians trace the appearance of the sweet potato to the mid seventeenth century, but others believe it arrived on Madeira much earlier.  Regardless of the introduction date, sweet potatoes thrive between ocean level up to 700 meters in altitude. Furthermore, this tubercule, mostly grown for export, thrives in the municipalities of Santana, Ponta do Sol, Calheta, Machico and Ribeira Brava.  Porto Santo also grows batata doce.

Sweet Potato in Madeiran Cuisine

Madeirans love sweet potatoes.  They consume it cooked, fried or grilled with honey for example. Most locals use sweet potatoes to make their bread.  Supermarkets also sell Pao de Batatas – our favorite bread on Madeira. Furthermore, sweet potato is the major ingredient of bolo de caco, which is one of Madeira’s specialties.

Madeira Sweet Potato Cuisine Batata Doce

Gluten Free Sweet Potato

Hence, sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free, grain free, paleo friendly, vegetarian, vegan. So, if you look for healthy cuisine, try sweet potatoes in any shape, way or form!

Healthy Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and B6.  Furthermore, they are a great source of fiber and their sweet taste can prevent sugar cravings.  In addition, sweet potato has anti-inflammatory (source) properties as well as antioxidant effects (source). Furthermore, the sweet potato has liver protective, cancer protective and neuroprotective qualities according to several peer reviewed and published studies.  It thus seems that sweet potatoes are a great addition to your diet.

Source: WebMD