No rice? No problem. We’ve got Kamote!


When we were in high school and college, we used to hear it from our teachers. When students were noisy and misbehaving or when they haven’t studied for an exam and tended to space out, they would say “Why don’t you go to the farm and plant Kamote!” We’d laugh and that was the end of it.

Recently, the price of rice soared in the markets and groceries, triggering speculations that suppliers may have been hoarding rice in their warehouses to spike up the price. And indeed, the price of rice went up the roof. Regular rice such as “Dinorado” and Sinandomeng” rose from P52 per kilo to P58/kilo. Red Rice, which used to sell for P62/kilo in the groceries are currently selling for P94/kilo. Suddenly, we start thinking of better alternatives to rice that is natural, healthier and less expensive.

Root vegetables such as Kamote or sweet potatoes are excellent substitutes for rice. For one, they’re cheap and plentiful. They sell for about P30-P40/kilo depending on which market you buy it from. For another reason, they’re healthier. According to Zero In On Nutrition, a health-based website, Kamote or sweet potatoes are anti-inflammatory, regulating blood sugar, preventing inflammation; fighting cancer and are touted to be good for brain health and function.

The nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes include being “rich in betacarotene, high in Vitamin C, good source of fiber, containing 4g fiber or 15% of recommended daily value and is Diabetic- friendly, noted by Livestrong, a health-focused website.

Comparing calories, sweet potatoes is also the winner. While White Rice has 130 calories, one medium- sized boiled Kamote contains 103 calories or 27 calories less than rice per serving. People who work out regularly at the gym often snack on Kamote as energy food.

We can also eat or drink the Kamote leaves more popularly known as “Talbos ng Kamote.” I’m sure many of us enjoy our Kamote Salad before meals: boiled Talbos ng Kamote with a dressing of vinegar, soy sauce, thinly sliced tomatoes, onions and ginger. The leaves could also be placed in a blender and made into a drink. According to the Potravinarstvo Slovak Journal of Food Science on Polyphenols and Phenolic Acids in Sweet Potato (Ipomoea Batatas L.) it contains Polyphenols, proteins, vitamins, minerals and some functional mi c r o – c omp o n e n t s . Polyphenols are bioactive compounds, which can protect the human body from the oxidative stress which may cause many diseases including cancer, aging and cardiovascular problems. The Polyphenol content in sweet potatoes is two to three times higher compared to some common vegetables.”

Habits are hard to break, especially if we’ve been eating rice all our lives. But if we just look elsewhere, we find better, healthier and lighter-calorie alternatives. Kamote is plentiful, healthy, affordable and promotes weight control. We can even grow them in our backyards. So next time you hear someone say “Why don’t you just go and plant Kamote,” you can take his/her advise seriously. We can plant healthy root crops in our garden and enjoy its rich health benefits!