Kumara (sweet potato) belongs to the morning glory family of tubers, a root vegetable with a history and origins in South America dating back 5000 years. It is native to the Americas like the more common potato and I am sure you are familiar with the arrival of potatoes from the Americas and the impact this resulted in respect of the European diet.
The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens; the tuberous root tends to be long tapered and circular though depending on conditions shape may vary from spherical to long and thin. There are many varieties of kumara (sweet potato); the skin colour may vary from orange, brown, beige, red and through to purple.
The flesh ranges from beige through to white, red, pink, violet, orange and yellow; those with yellow or pale flesh tend to be less sweet and more moist than those with a more pink, red or orange flesh.
The kumara very likely arrived in Polynesia on vessels of some type along the trade winds which tend to blow from east to west across the southern Pacific between the roaring forties which are westerlies and the convergent zone south of the equator.
Health benefits of Kumara
They are excellent sources of beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, manganese, copper, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, they are also a source of potassium, niacin, vitamin B1 and B2, phosphorus and last but not least dietary fibre.