Are potatoes healthier than sweet potatoes?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Are potatoes healthier than sweet potatoes?” and compare the nutritional profiles of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.
Are potatoes healthier than sweet potatoes?
No, Sweet potatoes are generally considered healthier than potatoes. According to studies, sweet potatoes are slightly healthier than white potatoes, owing to their high beta-carotene and vitamin A content(1).
Sweet potatoes and potatoes contain good amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Both potatoes and sweet potatoes are healthy, and both can be part of a healthy diet. However, health benefits may vary depending on the cooking style (2).
Depending on your preferences and health goals, you can incorporate both or either into your diet. What matters most is that you eat them in moderation and prepare them in healthy ways.
To enjoy both these potatoes healthily, try boiling or baking them, keeping the skin on for more fiber, and serving with fresh herbs or spices, preferably, rather than cheese, butter, and salt.
What is the nutritional content of potatoes and sweet potatoes?
The following table shows the nutritional content of 100g of boiled potatoes and boiled sweet potatoes (5,6):
|Carbohydrates||29.6 g||26.2 g|
|Starch||24.1 g||16.4 g|
|Fibre||3.17 g||3.9 g|
|Sugar||1.49 g||5.43 g|
|Protein||3.63 g||2.04 g|
|Iron||8% DV||4% DV|
|Vitamin C||11% DV||4% DV|
|Vitamin A||0% DV||2300% DV|
|Vitamin B6||37% DV||20% DV|
|Potassium||18% DV||11% DV|
|Magnesium||8% DV||7% DV|
*DV% is the percent daily value based on a 2000 kcal diet
What is the advantage of Potatoes over Sweet potatoes?
Potatoes and Sweet potatoes contain good amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The nutritional profile of potatoes and sweet potatoes varies depending on the cooking process(2).
Boiling peeled sweet potatoes and ordinary potatoes in unsalted water reveals some intriguing nutritional differences. Sweet potatoes contain more calories, carbohydrates, and fat than regular boiled potatoes, but the regular potato had more protein(3,4).
In terms of micronutrients, boiling regular potatoes contain more potassium, vitamin B1, Vitamin C, and folic acid than sweet potatoes.
Regular potatoes contain compounds called glycoalkaloids, with optimum safe levels that have been shown to have anticancer and other beneficial effects in test-tube studies (7,8).
Also, both potatoes have resistant starch that is digested more slowly, helping you lose weight. Both sweet and regular potatoes can fit into a balanced diet that incorporates a diversity of other healthy foods.
What is the advantage of Sweet potatoes over Potatoes?
While both types of potatoes can be a healthy part of your diet, sweet potatoes may offer extra benefits for your overall health. Following are some of the important distinctions that give sweet potatoes the advantage when it comes to your health.
Sweet potatoes have a lower GI
An important point where potatoes and sweet potatoes contradict is their glycemic index (GI), a range from 0 to 100 that measures how swiftly a food will elevate your blood sugar levels (1).
A boiled potato has a high glycemic index of around 78, whereas a boiled sweet potato has an average glycemic index of 63. This implies that potatoes break down more quickly into sugar in the digestive system, causing your blood sugar to elevate (2).
These measures are important because eating foods with a generally lower glycemic index may help reduce blood sugar and control your weight.
Sweet potatoes have a GI of 44-94 depending on the kind and cooking procedure. Because of the way the starches gelatinize after cooking, baked sweet potatoes have a substantially higher GI than boiled sweet potatoes (9).
The GI of ordinary potatoes also varies. For example, boiled red potatoes have a GI of 89, whereas baked Russet potatoes have a GI of 111(9).
Sweet potatoes have higher levels of antioxidants
Both potatoes and sweet potatoes contain nutrients that act as antioxidants, including vitamin A and vitamin C, which protect the cells in our body to fight against oxidative stress (2). This is essential because oxidative stress is associated with heart disease, cancer, and brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Sweet potatoes also consist of antioxidant plant pigments that are not present in white potatoes; for instance, orange sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, and purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanins.
Also, white potatoes have more quantity of potassium; on the other hand, sweet potatoes are especially high in vitamin A.
What determines the health ability of potatoes?
Several factors influence the health advantages of potatoes, including their nutrient content, variety, preparation methods, and portion size(3).
The nutritious content of potatoes varies depending on the variety and how they are prepared. Baking, boiling, or steaming potatoes with the skin on them can help preserve their nutritious value(4).
Deep frying potatoes to make French fries or potato chips can greatly increase their calorie and fat content, and eating these types of potato products in large portions daily can increase the risk of weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease(4).
Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Avoid keeping potatoes in direct sunlight or in wet regions since this can promote the formation of sprouts, which can contain high levels of glycoalkaloids and can cause glycoalkaloids toxicity if consumed(6,7).
Potatoes should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
How to prepare sweet and regular potatoes in healthy ways?
To eat these potatoes healthily, boil or bake them, leaving the peel on for extra fiber, and serve with fresh herbs or spices rather than cheese, butter, and salt. (3).
To clear any doubt about the impact of these root vegetables on your blood sugar, prefer boiled potatoes over baked potatoes.
Combining potatoes with foods that have a lower amount of carbohydrates, such as lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables, can also minimize their impact on blood sugar levels.
In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Are potatoes healthier than sweet potatoes?” and have compared the nutritional profiles of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.
- Alam MK. A comprehensive review of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam): Revisiting the associated health benefits. Vol. 115, Trends in Food Science and Technology. 2021.
- Wang S, Nie S, Zhu F. Chemical constituents and health effects of sweet potato. Vol. 89, Food Research International. 2016.
- Beals KA. Potatoes, Nutrition, and Health. Vol. 96, American Journal of Potato Research. 2019.
- Camire ME, Kubow S, Donnelly DJ. Potatoes and human health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009;49(10).
- USDA food data central: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170439/nutrients
- USDA food data central: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168484/nutrients
- Friedman M. Potato glycoalkaloids and metabolites: Roles in the plant and in the diet. Vol. 54, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006.
- Friedman M. Chemistry and Anticarcinogenic Mechanisms of Glycoalkaloids Produced by Eggplants, Potatoes, and Tomatoes. Vol. 63, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2015.