Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sweet Potato vs. White Potato

One common health food substitution I've been hearing about is to replace eating white potatoes with sweet potatoes. However, after Friday night's dinner, which was SO yummy, I had to wonder - are sweet potatoes really that much better for you, or am I just fooling myself? So I did some research - here's what I found:

Looking at them side-by-side, sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes seem to be nutritionally quite identical:

Sweet Potato






2.29 g.

3.63 g.


23.61 g.

36.47 g.


3.8 g.

3.8 g.


0.17 g.

0.26 g.

Saturated Fat

0.06 g.

0.04 g.

[Comparison from - 1 medium, baked, with skin, no salt added]

After looking at those numbers, it didn't seem like that huge of a difference ... so what was the big deal? What gives sweet potatoes the edge? After reading some more, here are the two main reasons why sweet potatoes (which are actually not a type of potato) are said to be healthier than regular potatoes:
  • sweet potatoes have more antioxidants (which lowers the risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer)
  • sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, which means that it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels - which often leads to more hunger, therefore more eating - therefore, the pancreas does not need to work as hard to compensate (so there is less strain on the body)
So overall, the sweet potato does have more nutritious value than the regular potato -- now I don't feel so guilty for enjoy my dinner with so much relish :)

The last line in the LA times article I read is worth quoting:

"A sweet potato isn't really good for you if it's fried and eaten along with a generous serving of mom's apple pie."

The final nutritional value of the food will always come down to portion and preparation -- so choose and prepare foods carefully!

Sources of information:


  1. Interesting! I knew about the glycemic index part, but not the rest. And I love sweet potatoes! So I'll keep eating them, guilt free!

  2. This is a very informative post. Will definitely switch from normal potatoes to sweet potatoes from now on.

  3. I'm glad you looked beyond the "label," so to say.

    One month, last year on my blog, I highlighted research on fruits and veggies every day. I learned that whole grains have antioxidants, such as popcorn and whole wheat bread. I learned that dark skinned beans, such as black beans and dark red kidney beans have more antioxidants than light skinned beans.

    Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes have antioxidants, but I do tend to think people should be incorporating more of the orange and deep yellow veggies into their diets. And, like you say, eat it in a healthy way.

    Baked sweet potatoes travel well. I bring them to the office for lunch. I have sweet potatoes featured in my current blog post, as well. :D

    If nothing else, I have learned to look beyond the label and do more research about what I eat. It has really opened my eyes.

    :-) Marion

  4. DH and I eat them weekly, at the very least. My nutritionist encourages them for the very reasons you cited. I'd never had them, except for the drenched in marshmallow and brown sugar Thanksgiving-style way, until about a year ago. We eat them just plain with a little butter. YUM!!


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