It’s a fact that potatoes are an incredibly versatile food. They’re one of the few things that can be used in almost any meal or recipe, and they’re an affordable staple. But, not all potatoes are created equal. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between “sweet” and “regular” potatoes.
Potatoes are among the most popular foods in the world, but they are commonly eaten as either sweet potatoes or regular potatoes. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two types of potatoes and find out which one is truly healthier.
Sweet potatoes are a popular alternative to regular potatoes, and for good reason. These starchy tubers are loaded with vitamins A, C and E, and they are also low in calories and carbs, making them a great option for those trying to lose weight. But, like most vegetables, their nutritional profile varies, depending on the variety of potato.
The sweet potato vs. the normal potato is an age-old controversy. Which foods should you eat for optimal health?
So, in today’s piece, we’ll look at the research and announce a clear winner.
What is the point of the debate in the first place?
Sweet potato is a root vegetable.es are a type of potato that is used are a type of potato that is used (but not normal potatoes) have gained “superfood” status among healthy eaters and frequent exercisers in recent years.
According to certain studies, potatoes may contain detrimental anti-nutrients. Others may believe that their glycemic index (GI) is excessively high. As a result, the humble spud has gotten a lot of love in the low-carb era.
But here’s the thing: there’s a catch. Sweet potatoes and ordinary potatoes are both nutritious, amazing, and tasty heritage foods.
Regardless of your objectives, you can eat and enjoy both.
Let’s dig up the truth about our tuberous pals with that in mind.
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I speak potahto when you say potato. However, they are not the same.
They’re both known as “potatoes.”
They’re both nutrient-dense, energy-dense tubers as well as ancient, revered foods with a long history of cultivation.
They were both born in Central and South America and have since spread over the globe.
They’re both delicious and make a fantastic side dish.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are botanically unrelated.
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) belong to the Solanaceae family of plants, which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and deadly nightshade. This family of plants produces the toxic solanine. As a result, avoid eating any plant’s leaves or stems, as well as potatoes that have turned green. In South America, Solanum phureja is a rarer, more wild-type potato variety.
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and blossoming morning glory vines are both members of the Convolvulaceae family. You can consume the leaves of sweet potatoes, which are more nutritious than potatoes.
Also, sweet potatoes aren’t the same as yams. Another form of tuber is true yams (genus Dioscorea).
(The tubers known as yams in New Zealand and the South Pacific are Oxalis tuberosa, a genus related to sorrel and shamrocks.)
Potatoes come in over 4,000 different types (with 3,000 in the Andes alone) while sweet potatoes come in about 5,000 different varieties.
Sweet potatoes and potatoes come in a variety of colors, from white to orange to purple.
Jodi Pudge took the photo.
Of course, in the normal grocery, we don’t see that kind of variety. We only buy a few potato or sweet potato varieties because of commercial breeding.
Fast-food establishments, for example, require a potato variety (such as Russets) with a specific size and shape, which cuts nicely into French fries and keeps together when deep-fried, but has a mealy, floury texture on the inside.
In fact, the majority of potatoes farmed in North America are intended for deep frying.
Types of potatoes
Potatoes vary in starch amount and kind, which influences not just how quickly they digest but also how they behave when cooked.
Floury or “mealy” potatoes are richer in starch, notably amylose, and have a fluffy texture, making them suitable for baking or mashing.
Waxy potatoes contain less total starch but more amylopectin, a soluble fiber that helps the potato cling together and gives it a little “gluey” texture. This improves their boiling ability. They also take longer to digest, especially if they’ve been cooked and then chilled.
Sweet potato kinds differ in texture, cooking qualities, moisture content, and sugar content: White, yellow, and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are usually dry, whereas orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are moist.
What about the carbohydrate issue?
Plants store nutrients in tubers, which are swollen roots or stems. This is why they — in this example, starchy carbohydrates — are such a fantastic source of energy.
Tubers have been used as a human food source for millennia.
However, carbohydrates have become a source of concern for many people in recent years. People debate whether or not they should eat potatoes at all… Aren’t they excessively “carbohydrate-dense”?
For one thing, “high-carb” isn’t always the issue.
Potatoes are consumed in processed form by the majority of people in North America, Western Europe, and Australia, such as French fries, tater tots, and potato chips.
In North America, especially in the South, the word “sweet potato” is frequently followed by the word “pie.”
We generally top spuds with butter or sour cream, as well as gravy and cheese curds for our poutine-loving Canadian pals.
As a result, the tubers aren’t always to blame. It’s everything we put in front of them.
Carbohydrates and satiety
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are, in fact, very satiating foods, thanks to their carbohydrate content.
When you eat them, they “stick to your ribs” and leave you feeling satisfied for a long time.
(There’s a reason why a satisfying dinner is described as “meat and potatoes.”)
In fact, Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, performed a wild experiment in 2010: he ate just potatoes for two months.
He shed 12 pounds in three weeks by eating only when he was hungry. In order to consume adequate calories, he boosted his consumption to 20 potatoes per day… He stated he’d never felt so stuffed in his life.
Despite appearing to meet his calorie requirements, Voigt dropped another 9 pounds during the course of the experiment. His blood measurements (cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose) also improved.
Of course, the 20-potato-a-day diet isn’t something we advocate. But, at least anecdotally, Voigt’s findings show that starchy tubers are more gratifying and less fat-promoting than low-carb proponents may predict.
This is due in part to the carbohydrate type found in potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Starch or sugar as a carbohydrate?
In terms of calories, fiber, and macronutrient composition, here’s how a medium baked potato and a medium sweet potato compare.
|1 medium-sized baked potato||1 medium-sized baked potato|
|Protein||4.3 g||2.3 g|
|Fat||0 g||0 g|
|Carbohydrates||37 g||24 g|
|Fiber||3.8 g||3.8 g|
It appears to be very similar. But let’s take a closer look at the carbohydrate type.
|1 medium-sized baked potato||1 medium-sized baked potato|
|Starch||29.9 g||8.0 g|
|Sugars||2.0 g||7.4 g|
|692 mg||2599 mg|
|761 mg||650 mg|
|588 mg||570 mg|
Note that a medium potato weighs 173 grams. 114 grams for a medium sweet potato. The table above compares tubers of medium size, which represent a typical share of the crop (cupped handful). Nutritiondata.self.com is the source for this information.
Sweet potatoes, as you can see above, are much sweeter than normal potatoes, with nearly four times the sugar content. (However, ordinary potatoes’ starch content progressively changes into glucose and fructose when held in cold storage.)
Starch that is resistant to attack
Most tubers include resistant starch, which are complex starch molecules that we can’t digest but are broken down in our big intestine by gut bacteria.
Regular potatoes have more resistant starch than sweet potatoes.
Retrograde starch is a form of resistant starch found in potatoes that occurs when the starch molecules shuffle around in a new configuration after cooking and cooling.
(If you’ve ever baked a pot of oats, refrigerated it, and noted a jelly-like texture after it was chilled, you’ve probably noticed something similar.)
In the graph below, you can observe how temperature affects the results. For contrast, we’ve added some cooked lentils and bananas.
Per 100 g of food, the amount of resistant starch (g). Landon et al (2012), Landon et al (2012), Landon et al (2012), Land
We must break down and release the starch trapped within the cells of both potatoes and sweet potatoes in order to digest them.
Because portion of that starch is resistant starch, it takes time and effort to break it down, so even though potatoes and sweet potatoes are heavy in carbs, they don’t have the same effect on our bodies as high-carb processed foods.
(See All About Resistant Starch for more information on resistant starch.)
Eaters have long been concerned about the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of potatoes and sweet potatoes, in addition to being “high-carb.”
The GI of a food is a measurement of how rapidly it turns to glucose.
The GL is a measurement of how much glucose is converted by a food.
As a result, people are advised to avoid foods having a high GI and/or GL. As a result, many people prefer sweet potatoes to ordinary potatoes, worrying that regular potatoes will spike their blood sugar.
Here’s how potatoes compare to sweet potatoes in terms of GI and GL.
(To give you an idea of how the tubers compare to other common “high-carb” foods, we’ve added lentils and bananas.)
Glycemic load and glycemic index
Interestingly, a white sweet potato extract (known as caiapo) has been demonstrated to improve various metabolic disease markers, making it a prospective type 2 diabetes treatment.
In reality, white sweet potatoes were regularly consumed raw in Japan as a therapy for anemia, hypertension, and diabetes.
The blood glucose response to sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, regular potatoes with caiapo, and plain old glucose is shown in the graph below.
For diets containing 50 g of carbohydrate, the average glucose response was compared to fasting blood glucose readings. Allen et al. (2012), Allen et al., Allen et al., Allen
The issue with GI and GL
As you can see, white potatoes frequently outperform sweet potatoes on glycemic index and glycemic load testing. Is this, however, to say that we should regard normal potatoes as dirt-covered sugar cubes? Certainly not.
The story is far bigger than GI and GL.
GI changes as a result of the stuff you eat (say, floury vs. waxy potatoes).
When new foods are introduced, the GI system changes. We don’t typically start nibbling on a basic cooked potato. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are commonly included with meals.
GI changes as a result of meal preparation. Because starch can bond with water when cooked, boiling usually lowers the GI. Baking, on the other hand, reduces moisture and concentrates sugars due to its dry heat. The starchiness of potatoes and sweet potatoes can be preserved by cutting them up, whereas cooking them whole results in more sugariness.
Sweet potatoes do not always have a lower GI than white potatoes, as seen in the chart below. A roasted or baked sweet potato, for example, has a higher GI than a boiled white potato.
Based on the cooking method, the average GI of 10 different sweet potato cultivars. Bahado-Singh (2011), Bahado-Singh (2011), Bahado-Singh (2011), Bahad
Finally, if you follow the suggestions, your diet should include lean meats, healthy fats, additional veggies and fruits, and naturally occurring fiber.
You’re probably also physically active, which aids your body’s carbohydrate digestion.
This means that the GI / GL isn’t the sole factor to consider when assessing a food’s “healthiness.”
It also indicates that most active and healthy people can consume potatoes and sweet potatoes without issue.
Carbohydrate type is important.
So, while both potatoes and sweet potatoes are heavy in carbohydrates, not all carbohydrates are made equal.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes both fill us full, give us energy, and keep us satiated for a long time due to the type and nature of the carbs they contain.
Sweet potatoes, especially when cooked and caramelized, are a great way to satisfy sugar cravings.
Purple-skinned, white-fleshed sweet potatoes, in particular (often seen in East Asian cuisines), have a “cakey,” caramel flavor that makes them ideal for satiating sugar cravings.
Minerals and vitamins
In terms of vitamin and mineral composition, sweet potatoes and potatoes are nearly identical.
Orange sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are vitamin A superstars when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Animal foods, such as eggs, contain vitamin A in the form of retinol, and many people in wealthy industrialized countries can afford to eat these foods. Because many processed foods are fortified with vitamin A, few people in North America are vitamin A deficient.
Vitamin A deficiency, on the other hand, is a prevalent problem in developing nations, resulting in blindness, other health problems, and over 600,000 fatalities per year (mostly of young children or pregnant women).
Orange sweet potatoes, like other colorful fruits and vegetables (such as leafy greens and squash), are high in the carotenoid form of vitamin A. A little child can get enough vitamin A from as little as a cupped handful of sweet potato per day.
Increasing sweet potato availability and breeding vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes are thus essential nutritional methods for combating vitamin A insufficiency.
|1 medium-sized baked potato||1 medium-sized baked potato|
|Vitamin A||17.3 IU||21907 IU|
|Thiamine is a B vitamin (B1)||0.1 mg||0.1 mg|
|Riboflavin is a B vitamin (B2)||0.1 mg||0.1 mg|
|Niacin is a B vitamin that helps the body to (B3)||2.4 mg||1.7 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) (B5)||0.7 mg||1.0 mg|
|B6 is a B-complex vitamin.||0.5 mg||0.3 mg|
|Folate is a B vitamin that is found in (B9)||48.4 mcg||6.8 mcg|
|Vitamin C||16.6 mg||22.3 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.1 mg||0.8 mg|
|Vitamin K||3.5 mcg||2.6 mcg|
|Calcium||25.9 mg||43.3 mg|
|Copper||0.2 mg||0.2 mg|
|Iron||1.9 mg||0.8 mg|
|Magnesium||48.4 mg||30.8 mg|
|Manganese||0.4 mg||0.6 mg|
|Phosphorus||121 mg||61.6 mg|
|Potassium||926 mg||541 mg|
|Selenium||0.7 mcg||0.2 mcg|
|Sodium||17.3 mg||41.0 mg|
|Zinc||0.6 mg||0.4 mg|
Nutritiondata.self.com is the source for this information.
Antioxidants & phytonutrients
Antioxidants are found in both potatoes and sweet potatoes, and they assist the body reduce oxidative damage.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes include phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that may help us stay healthy by regulating our immune systems, combating viruses and other infections, managing inflammation, and limiting tumor formation.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes contain a variety of phytochemicals, including carotenoids (vitamin A precursors), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and tocopherols (vitamin E), in addition to carotenoids (vitamin A precursors), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and tocopherols (vitamin E).
Colored potatoes and sweet potatoes (i.e. yellow, orange, and purple-fleshed kinds) have higher levels of these beneficial plant compounds than other colorful fruits and vegetables.
In fact, red or purple-fleshed potatoes are similar to Brussels sprouts, blueberries, or spinach!
Chemicals that make you feel happy
Interesting tidbit! Potatoes also have trace levels of temazepam and diazepam (commonly known as Valium), as well as L-tyrosine (a precursor to dopamine, one of our “feel-good” neurotransmitters).
L-tryptophan, the basic material for serotonin, another “feel-good” neurotransmitter that makes us feel peaceful and happy, is found in nearly equal levels in both potatoes and sweet potatoes.
It’s no surprise you’re feeling groovy after those spuds.
Antinutrients are chemicals in the body that either prevent nutrient absorption or behave as poisons.
Antinutrients are found in almost all plant diets and act as natural insect, disease, and environmental defenses. Tubers are no different.
Most tubers, for example, are relatively poisonous when raw. Green potatoes are also poisonous, as previously stated (so cut off the green bits or toss green potatoes altogether).
Finally, like practically all other plant meals, potatoes and sweet potatoes contain antinutrients.
Fortunately, they occur in extremely low amounts, and our bodies are usually completely capable of processing them.
Antinutrients in potatoes
Proteins found in potatoes, such as patatins and lectins, might be allergic, especially when consumed uncooked.
Potato allergies are more common in people with other allergies (especially latex allergies), as well as children. Lectins can harm the intestine.
Protease inhibitors are also found in potatoes, which can cause an allergic reaction or interfere with protein digestion.
Potatoes contain salicylates, which might be problematic for people who are sensitive to them.
Finally, the Solanaceae family of plants (which includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant) may be inflammatory and cause reactions in persons who are sensitive to it.
However, the majority of these issues affect patients who already have allergies, intolerances, or autoimmune illnesses. Don’t be concerned if you feel fine after eating potatoes.
Antinutrients in sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain sporamin, a trypsin inhibitor that accounts for around 80% of the protein. By decreasing the function of the digestive enzyme trypsin, trypsin inhibitors can obstruct digestion (which helps us digest proteins).
sporamin, on the other hand, may act as an antioxidant.
Cooking reduces or eliminates several antinutrients in sweet potatoes, just as it does with potatoes. Sweet potato intolerance or allergy is uncommon.
What qualifies a food as “healthy”?
As you might expect, a number of factors influence whether potatoes and sweet potatoes (or, for that matter, most other foods) are more or less “healthy” or suited for your objectives.
How are they prepared?
Instead of eating raw potatoes and sweet potatoes, boil them.
It is often healthier to bake, boil, or roast potatoes and sweet potatoes rather than fry them. When starch is fried, it can produce toxic acrylamides.
With what you eat them
Take a look at your sweet potatoes. Is there a pie crust underneath them, or are there marshmallows on top?
Is it possible to see the cooked potato behind the sour cream and cheese?
Then it’s probably not a good choice for a daily meal.
However, if you see broccoli with those tubers and perhaps a great grass-fed steak, or wild-caught fish, or some beans… Take a chance!
Sweet potatoes, in particular, benefit from a small amount of healthy fat to aid in the absorption of vitamin A.
Processed vs. natural
Both potatoes and sweet potatoes have slow-burning carbs when eaten as natural, minimally processed plant meals.
So skip the quick mashed potato flakes, potato vodka, and sweet potato syrup in favor of the Niçoise salad.
Density of nutrients
Both potatoes and sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense when eaten as whole, lightly processed meals.
(Of course, they’re not kale, but few foods are.)
Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients are all found in potatoes and sweet potatoes.
An orange-fleshed sweet potato is a clear winner if you’re searching for a boost of carotenoid vitamin A. Try a blue-fleshed potato if you want to get some anthocyanin antioxidant action. Change it up!
It’s far easy to devour less-healthy foods. They leave you wanting more and unsatisfied.
Sure, we’ve all had a mashed potato feast at Thanksgiving or a plate of sweet potato fries at our neighborhood bar. However, when both potatoes and sweet potatoes are properly prepared and eaten slowly as part of a typical, PN-friendly diet, they are usually fulfilling and filling.
Consequences on the food supply and the environment
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are resilient crops that may be grown in a variety of climates, however sweet potatoes prefer it warmer. Both varieties of tubers may be grown in a bucket, even if you only have a small amount of space.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are low-impact crops that require little water and processing.
Your ancestors and history
Being able to enjoy food with others and connect to our ancestry is a part of being “healthy.” Most traditional cuisines include potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes, in addition to their nutrient content, promote “health” through food and social interactions.
In conclusion, we suggest the following:
“Significant in the lab” vs. “significant in the actual world”
While we rely heavily on clinical research, you may have guessed that we also aim to maintain a sense of perspective.
We try not to get too caught up in the numbers or to focus on certain nutrients or foods.
People don’t eat “nutrients,” after all. They consume food. They consume food.
A baked potato with a meal or Grandma’s potato salad with 7 other dishes at a family reunion is a far cry from being a fasting test subject who is fed exactly 200 grams of baked potato and nothing else.
Small changes in statistics are “lab significant,” but not “real-world significant,” which is what matters to real, distinct people living real lives in real bodies.
As a result, we collaborate directly with Coaching clients to examine how scientific theories and conclusions play out in the real world, outside of the lab.
PN’s dietary recommendations
Based on available data and our experience helping over 100,000 clients improve their eating habits, we recommend the following:
We encourage having both potatoes and sweet potatoes in a healthy diet because we know that doing so:
- provides consumers with “carb diversity”;
- enables people to feel psychologically and physically pleased;
- helps people have consistent, slow-burning energy; and
- makes people feel “normal” when they change their eating habits (because potatoes and sweet potatoes are familiar foods).
Furthermore, people can simply adjust this broad proposal to match their specific objectives.
Starting with 1 to 2 cupped handfuls of starchy carbs per meal is a good place to start. This can include potatoes or sweet potatoes, as well as a variety of other tasty and nutritious options such as beans and lentils, fruit, whole minimally processed grains, and so on.
People should change their portion sizes and dietary choices based on the following factors:
- their personal objectives (fat loss, muscle gain, athletic performance fuel, etc. );
- their bodily size (smaller people receive less, whereas larger ones receive more);
- their specific carb needs (which are normally higher if they’re active and leaner);
- their unique food intolerances; and
- their personal choices
People should try several types of potatoes including sweet potatoes, as well as different cooking methods and cuisines. The spice of life is variety!
Check out All About Potatoes for additional information on potatoes.
What to do next: Here are some suggestions from.
Get over the terms “good foods” and “bad foods.”
Ask yourself, “Does this meal add value to my body?” rather than “Does this food add value to my body?” Is it nourishing and beneficial to me? Sweet potatoes and potatoes can both be a healthy addition to your diet.
Experiment with new ideas.
Look into the different types of potatoes and sweet potatoes that are available. At your local farmers’ market, look for uncommon or colorful types. Alternatively, you can cultivate some in your own garden.
Choose foods that are entire, fresh, and minimally processed.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a regular or sweet potato; it’s still better than potato chips.
Consider your options for preparation.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, roasted, or steamed. Instead of eating raw potatoes, cook them. Cool your potatoes after cooking to take benefit of the retrograde starch.
Examine how you feel after consuming a particular food.
Do you feel energized or sluggish after eating a potato or sweet potato? Are you satisfied or hungry? Do you want to be bursting with energy or snoozing in the corner? Is it better to be lean and light or hefty and sluggish? Gather information and act on it.
Keep an eye out for signs of intolerances and sensitivities.
If you think you might have a food intolerance, keep a food diary to see if you can link your symptoms to a specific meal. If you have an underlying susceptibility to white potatoes, they could be an issue (such as an autoimmune disease or other allergies, particularly a latex allergy). Eczema, stomach distress, hives and swelling are the most typical potato intolerance symptoms, followed by anaphylaxis in rare cases. Potatoes are totally OK for the majority of people (particularly grownups).
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In the United States, a large majority of potatoes are grown to be eaten with toppings (i.e. butter, salt, and cheese). However, many people are unaware that sweet potatoes are also eaten raw, baked, steamed, fried, or even mashed.. Read more about sweet potato vs red potato and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are sweet potatoes really healthier than potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are actually healthier than potatoes because they have more vitamin A, potassium, and fiber.
What potatoes are the healthiest?
Potatoes are a great source of potassium, which helps to reduce blood pressure and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Which is better for weight loss sweet potato or potato?
Sweet potatoes are a better option for weight loss because they have more fiber and fewer calories.
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