Thanks to the social mediasphere, sweet potato toast has emerged as one of the biggest food fads of the last several months. The concept of simply toasting a sliced sweet potato intrigued me, so I had to check out what the frenzy is all about. While I wouldn’t say sweet potato toast resembles toasted bread, it is an easy and delicious way to add more vegetables to your day, especially if you love sweet potatoes like I do. Plus, that vibrant color is sure to bring joy to mealtime. Here is what you need to know about sweet potato toast.
Nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes
Beta-carotene, the nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A, reigns as the nutritional crown jewel of sweet potatoes, providing more than 230% of the daily value in just one small tater. For the sake of this post, I’m using one small, 60-gram sweet potato, which is closest to the weight of a slice of bread that weighs in at 43 grams.
What’s better for you: sweet potato toast or whole-wheat toast?
Sweet potatoes count as a vegetable, and whole-wheat toast provides you with a serving of whole grains. Therefore, we’re not comparing apples to apples. Your body benefits from both whole grains and vegetables, since they provide different ranges of nutrients.
Perhaps the most significant nutritional differences between sweet potato toast and wheat toast show up in the form of calories and certain vitamins. One small sweet potato contains half the calories as a piece of toast. Vitamins A and C don’t even register on the charts for bread, while sweet potatoes offer a good source of vitamin C and some potassium.
One small sweet potato contains 12 grams carbs with 2 grams fiber, whereas a slice of store-bought 100% whole-wheat bread provides 19 grams carbs and 3 g fiber. A significant difference? Not really. The total grams of sugar only varies by 1 gram, however the kind in bread is added sugar totaling 3/4 teaspoon, like from honey, white sugar, molasses or high fructose corn syrup. The sugar in sweet potatoes is naturally occurring inside the sweet potato.
A slice of bread contains 160 milligrams sodium, whereas a sweet potato contains only 22 milligrams—a nice feature. However that difference is miniscule if you regularly eat fast food, canned soup and frozen meals, which top the charts in sodium contents.
In defense of bread, though, whole grains are an excellent source of disease-fighting vitamins and minerals like manganese, selenium, magnesium and thiamin, generally beating sweet potatoes by strong margins for these nutrients. For you protein seekers, whole-wheat bread contains 4 grams, whereas a sweet potato only contains 1 gram.
How to make sweet potato toast
Some methods utilize a toaster, but the Food NetworkTest Kitchen found that the toasts stay together better when the taters are sliced and cooked in the oven. Follow the directions in our recipes for Sweet Potato Toast with Ricotta, Berries, Honey and Almonds or Bacon, Egg and Cheese on Sweet Potato Toast, and make a batch of the toasts that can be stored and easily reheated for up to 4 days (a great timesaver for busy weekday mornings!).
What to put on sweet potato toast
A variety of toppings pair well with sweet potato toast. I love to mash on avocado slices, creating sweet potato avocado toast—a double threat. Boost flavor with flaked sea salt, ground cumin or chili powder. Other favorites include hummus or pulled pork sprinkled with pomegranate arils. Or turn your chips and salsa ritual into sweet potato and salsa bruschetta. If you have a toaster oven, sprinkle feta, pecans and smoked paprika on top for a drool-worthy meal or appetizer. I also make sweet potato toast as a simple side dish to enjoy alongside dishes missing a vegetable or carb, like soup or salad.
The bottom line
Sweet potato toast and 100% whole-grain toast are both good for you. Most importantly they’re delicious. Rotate them in your meals for the widest range of beneficial nutrients.
Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant and the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love.