By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Striking the balance between vibrant, versatile and delicious, sweet potatoes have become a pretty common component of the modern diet. From sweet potato fries to casseroles to pies and beyond, there are a myriad of ways to enjoy this tasty tuber. Still, many people have doubts when it comes to the sweet potato nutrition profile.
This is because sweet potatoes are usually associated with regular potatoes, which are often served deep-fried, salted and in massive portions that are loaded with extra fat, sodium and calories. But are sweet potatoes bad for you? And if you’re on a diet, are sweet potatoes fattening or weight loss-friendly? Keep reading to find out what you need to know about sweet potato nutrition and why you should include a serving or two in your diet.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts
Sweet potatoes are high in many important nutrients. They contain a good amount of fiber as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and several other vitamins and minerals.
One medium cooked sweet potato contains approximately:
- 103 calories
- 23.6 grams carbohydrates
- 2.3 grams protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 3.8 grams dietary fiber
- 21,907 international units vitamin A (438 percent DV)
- 22.3 miligrams vitamin C (37 percent DV)
- 0.6 milligram manganese (28 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram vitamin B6 (16 percent DV)
- 541 milligrams potassium (15 percent DV)
- 1 milligram pantothenic acid (10 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram copper (9 percent DV)
- 1.7 milligrams niacin (8 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (8 percent DV)
- 30.8 milligrams magnesium (8 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients above, sweet potato nutrition also contains riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium and iron.
Sweet Potato Nutrition: Sweet Potato Benefits
- Stabilizes Blood Sugar
- High in Antioxidants
- Boosts Brain Function
- Enhances Immunity
- Promotes Vision Health
- Aids in Weight Loss
Sweet Potato vs. Yams
Sweet potatoes are often referred to as yams, and for many, the terms are considered pretty much interchangeable. However, not only are they two entirely different plants, but there are some other major differences between yams vs sweet potatoes.
First of all, the sweet potato belongs to the morning glory family of plants while yams — not to be confused with Mexican yams or wild yam — are actually related to lilies and grasses. Additionally, sweet potatoes are thought to have originated in Central and South America while yams are native to Africa and Asia.
There are also some significant differences in the appearance of the yam vs. sweet potato as well. Sweet potatoes have tapered ends with smoother skin and can range in color from white to vibrant orange and purple. Yams, on the other hand, have rough skin and are typically white-fleshed and cylindrical. Yams are also more starchy and dry without the hint of sweetness found in sweet potatoes.
Gram for gram, yam nutrition is higher in calories, carbohydrates and fiber but slightly lower in protein than sweet potatoes. Yams also contain a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese but are not as nutrient-dense as sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Nutrition vs. White Potato Nutrition
Although both have become common kitchen staples, there are some distinct differences between white potatoes and sweet potatoes. They both belong to different plant families, are notably different in terms of appearance and each has a unique taste that sets it apart. While white potatoes are often incorporated into savory dishes, sweet potatoes have a flavor that works for both desserts and main courses alike.
But are sweet potatoes healthier than regular potatoes?
Looking at the sweet potato vs. potato in terms of nutrition, each brings a different set of nutrients to the table. White potato nutrition, for example, is especially high in certain micronutrients like vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese, while sweet potatoes are significantly higher in vitamin A.
Per 100 grams, there are 20.7 grams of carbs in sweet potato compared with 21.5 grams of carbs in regular potatoes. Meanwhile, the amount of sweet potato calories is slightly lower as well, with 94 calories in a potato compared to just 90 calories in sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are also slightly higher in fiber and have a lower glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause the same sharp increase in blood sugar as regular potatoes.
However, both can be healthy additions to the diet when used in moderation and with proper portion control. Preparation method is also key; potatoes are often deep-fried and doused in oil and salt, which depletes their nutritional value. Try them baked instead of fried and enjoy a few servings of both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes as part of a nutritious diet.
Final Thoughts on Sweet Potato Nutrition
- Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and many other important micronutrients.
- Thanks to their impressive health profile, sweet potatoes have been associated with a long list of health benefits. Sweet potato benefits for men and women include improving eye health, enhancing immunity, boosting brain function, aiding in weight loss and regulating blood sugar.
- Although the terms “yam” and “sweet potato” are used interchangeably, there are many differences between the sweet potato vs yam in terms of taste, appearance and nutrition.
- There are also differences in sweet potato nutrition compared to white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are slightly lower in calories and carbs, are digested more slowly and contain a higher concentration of certain nutrients.
- Include sweet potatoes in moderation as part of a healthy diet to take advantage of their unique health benefits, versatility and delicious flavor.