Are Sweet Potatoes Healthier Than Potatoes?


The popularity of sweet potatoes is rising steadily as many health and fitness influencers promote them as healthier substitutes for regular potatoes. But is that really true?


Following food trends can often be misleading as the people may lack knowledge about the nutritional value of the specific food (in this case- sweet potato). That’s why it’s important to educate ourselves on the matter of how to evaluate the health value of foods and choose the option that is most suitable for us (and not for the influencers). This can help us to have a more balanced, diverse, and customized diet.


That being said, this article will reveal the differences between sweet and normal potatoes and will help you to decide which one (or ideally both) to include in your meals.

Let’s get started!


  1. Do sweet potatoes have more calories than regular potatoes?

  2. What is the difference between sweet potato and potato?

  3. Macronutrients

  4. Glycemic index

  5. How nutritious are potatoes?

  6. Are sweet potatoes healthier than regular potatoes?

  7. What is the best way to cook potatoes and sweet potatoes?

  8. Conclusion


The information presented in the following paragraphs represents the average nutritional value of 100 grams cooked product (without additives). Keep in mind that there is a difference in the characteristics of boiled, baked, and fried products.


Do sweet potatoes have more calories than regular potatoes?


On average, sweet potatoes contain 83 calories when cooked. [1]


In comparison, regular potatoes have 90 kcal. [2]


In that sense, people who count their daily calorie intake may prefer to consume sweet potatoes more often than regular ones, even though there is not a major difference.


What is the difference between sweet potato and potato?

Macronutrients

According to NutritionValue.org, 100 grams of sweet potatoes contain, on average, 20 grams of total carbs with 2 grams of dietary fiber [3] compared to normal potatoes: 21 grams of carbs and 1.6 fiber. [4]


The carbs in both types of potatoes are mainly simple starches, a small amount of which are resistant starches that may act like fiber when digested.


Both potato types are poor in protein content: around 1.5 grams in sweet and 2 grams in normal potatoes.


Fats represent 0.1% of the macronutrients, so we can claim that potatoes, in general, are fat-free.

Glycemic index

A study on the glycemic index (GI) of sweet and regular potatoes has looked into the difference between the GIs during different cooking methods.


The evidence suggests that boiled sweet potatoes may have a low GI of 46. However, when baked, the index of this product can rise significantly to a high GI of 94. [5]


In comparison, boiled white potatoes have a high GI of around 70, while the index of baked ones is even higher: 85. [6]


How nutritious are potatoes?


According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, sweet potatoes have a high load of micronutrients [7] [8] :

  • Vitamin A, as beta-carotene (this gives the orange color of the vegetable)

  • Vitamin B6

  • Vitamin C

  • Potassium

  • Flavonoids

Regular potatoes can be great source of various vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, including [9] [10]:

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamins from B group (mainly B1, B6, and folate)

  • Potassium

  • Zinc

  • Calcium

  • Phosphorous

  • Phytochemical (bioactive compounds)


Are sweet potatoes healthier than regular potatoes?


The advice from Claudia Hleap (Registered Dietitian):

There has always been a lot of hype in the debate between sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes. Many of the patients I see for weight and diabetes management are under the assumption that these vegetables have extremely different impacts on blood sugar. Based on the evidence provided in this article, it is apparent that there is a limited difference in calorie, carbohydrate, and fiber content when comparing regular white potatoes and sweet potatoes, although the two potatoes vary in nutrient composition. Therefore, one potato is not superior to the other. Based on these findings, you should choose whichever potato you enjoy the most! Eat the skin of the potato, regardless of the type of potato, to optimize the amount of fiber you’re consuming. The best thing to do is to eat potatoes in moderation and to alternate between the two types to get a variety of nutrients in your diet!


The health benefits of potatoes are associated with their micronutrient load.

In that sense, evidence suggests that sweet potatoes can act as antioxidants and reduce the negative effect of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. They are associated with a high degree of liver health support and reduced signs of aging. [11]


The health benefits of regular potatoes are often underestimated and neglected. However, studies show that the moderate consumption of potatoes may actually improve hypertension symptoms as well as reduce the risk of heart diseases, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, and strokes. [12]


What is the best way to cook potatoes and sweet potatoes?


Potatoes may lose some part of their micronutrient value when heated and cooked.

One interesting fact here is that boiled regular potatoes have more calories than baked ones (87 kcal to 93 kcal). [13] However, for sweet potatoes, that is not the case: if you bake them they would be more calories than boiled ones! (86 kcal to 90kcal) [14]


Even though the difference is not significant, keep this little tip in mind if you count your daily calories.


When it comes to macros, boiled sweet potatoes contain fewer carbs than baked ones. (21 kcal to 18kcal). [15] And regular potatoes have the same carb content when baked or boiled (20kcal). This information can be useful if you are on a low carb or keto diet, although when considering the limited impact that cooking has on carbohydrate content, it does not need to be a significant consideration. [16]


For diabetes patients, boiled sweet potato is preferred because of its low GI (does not cause sharp spikes in blood sugar). Keep in mind that this only applies when potatoes are consumed in moderation. In this instance, too much of a good thing will not end up being a good thing for your blood sugars. When eating potatoes, it’s a good idea to serve them with fiber-rich vegetables, which slow down the metabolization of sugars and prevents significant peaks in blood glucose.


Conclusion


We can conclude that both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes provide us with key nutrients and can be beneficial to our health. Nonetheless, because of their high carb content and glycemic index (except boiled sweet potato), it’s best to eat them in moderation and combine with other fiber-rich foods, veggies, and proteins to achieve a diverse and balanced diet.

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