What's the difference between "sweet potato" and Kumara?

There is no difference between “sweet potato” and “kumara”, as they are just the two different names referring to the tuberous same root vegetable. Bothe are known by the same botanical name “ipomoea batatas”.

The sweet potato has many names around the world. In most English-speaking countries, it is known as “sweet potato”; but in New Zealand it is known by its Maori name “kumara”, and in France “patate douce”, in China “hong shu” (红薯), in Vietnam “khoai lang” and “batatas or boniatos” in South America, “umala” by Samoans, and “uala” by Native Hawaiian. The list goes on and on.

Sweet Potatoes in Sydney“Hong Shu” (红薯) in BeijingKumara in New Zealand
History of Kumara-Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is actually of Central and South America origin, a wild species of Ipomoea found in Mexico. It is thought to have been domesticated more than 5000 years ago, and was first grown as a trailing perennial plant, named Ipomoea Batatas, which is part of the Convolvulaceae (morning glory) family.

Over thousands of years sweet potato was introduced to Polynesia and Melanesian islands as well as South-East Asia, then into the Pacific region, hundreds of years before it was introduced into New Zealand.

Sweet potato was introduced into Spain in the 15th Century and was later taken to India, China and Malaysia by Portuguese voyagers. In fact, the sweet potato was often believed to be of Asian origin as cultivation quickly became prolific. Today sweet potato is among the most important tropical root crops and is grown in many varieties. According to the Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, China’s total annual production for 2014 amounted to 71 million tons, accounting for about 67% of total world production.

Varieties of Kumara-Sweet Potatoes

There are thousands of different varieties of kumara-sweet potatoes grown around world, each with its own specific texture and taste. Basically, there are three kinds are most common, the red, gold and orange kumaras.

In recent years, the purple kumara-sweet potato increasingly became popular for its vivid colour pigments and health benefits of high contents of anthocyanins, which also act as powerful antioxidants.

The kumara New Zealanders eat today has evolved from an American variety. It was imported in the early 1850s and was quickly adopted for its superior size and taste.

What’s Beneficial about Kumara-Sweet Potatoes?

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, which the Sunny Hill kumara-sweet potato products are made from, may be one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene. Several recent studies have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. This benefit may be particularly true for children. In several studies from Africa, sweet potatoes were found to contain between 100-1,600 micrograms (RAE) of vitamin A in every 3.5 ounces—enough, on average, to meet 35% of all vitamin A needs, and in many cases enough to meet over 90% of vitamin A needs (from this single food alone).

More of information of nutrition and antioxidant nutrients in Kumara-Sweet Potatoes can be found from The World’s Healthiest Foods.

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