Potato vs. Sweet Potato: Which is Healthier?


This is an age old debate. Nutritionist and dietitians have us replacing our daily potato meals with sweet potatoes claiming they are healthier, whereas, scientists debate, that both potatoes and sweet potatoes are healthy and important for a balanced eating routine. Today, let’s debunk these misconceptions and get some answers.

Both potatoes and sweet potatoes are root vegetables and make for excellent side lines. But, this is where the similarities end. They both belong to different species, namely, Solanum tuberosum and Ipomoea batatas, respectively. In fact, a potato is more closely related to tomatoes than sweet potatoes. They both often get substituted for one another due to their high starch content and waxy texture.

In a comparative study, we can come to find, that although a regular potato has more calories (168) than a sweet potato (112), it also has more protein (5 g in a regular and 2 g in a sweet potato) and carbohydrates (38 g in a regular and 26 g in a sweet potato) which are extremely important components of a balanced diet. Now, one of the reasons sweet potatoes are considered health may be due to their low calories and high fiber content. Although they aren’t too drastically different from regular potatoes, it can make quite a difference to a person on a calorie restricted diet. Sweet potatoes do, however, contain higher sugar content than a normal potato (duh).

Although, this is all a generalization since both spuds have hundreds of different varieties. Each variety brings its own nutrients which may or may not be more than another variety of the other vegetable. So the debate comes down to which variety is healthier in each of the two potato families.

Both regular and sweet potatoes offer you equal amounts of calcium, good for your bones, with both containing 4 percent of your daily requirement. Nearly equal amounts of vitamin C can be found in each: 35 percent in the regular potato and 37 percent in the sweet potato. However, a sweet potato offers a whopping 438 percent of vitamin A (good for your eyes), while you will get none of this vitamin from a regular potato. In terms of iron, a regular potato provides 10 percent of your daily need, while a sweet potato only offers 4 percent. Regular potatoes offer more potassium which helps control your blood pressure than sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are also easier to digest as opposed to regular potatoes, especially, if they’ve been cooked and cooled before consumption because of the presence of resistant starch.

The essence of the story is that, although the media promotes one type over the other, it depends on the type of variety we use more. It also shows, that no matter whichever spud you choose, if you plan to deep fry, butter or stuff it with cheese, then it doesn’t make a difference. Neither one would do you any good in such a situation. Instead, try to broil, boil, grill or bake your type of potato to cut out on all the oil which is the root cause of all the problems. And since we only live once, enjoy what you love but in moderation.


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