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Sometime during the last decade, Sweet Potato growers did a bang up job of marketing, and managed to persuade promoters of several popular diets that Sweet Potatoes were somehow a better food than ordinary Potatoes.
Slick marketing aside, there is little truth to what you are being told.
Using slight of hand, values on the two are often given by Standard Serving, rather than by weight or volume.
Russet, Red, Gold, etc., potatoes are valued on an 8 oz potato.
Sweet Potatoes are valued on 1 cup of cubes (about 4 oz). So of course, Sweet Potatoes measure lower in calories and carbs than other Potatoes.
When compared BY WEIGHT (rather than by "standard servings), the comparisons are illuminating.
- Sweet Potatoes are NOT "lower in calories" by any meaningful amount. A Sweet Potato has 26 calories per ounce, and a Russet has 27 calories per ounce. That is NOT a significant difference.
- Sweet Potatoes are NOT "lower in carbohydrates" either. In fact, they are HIGHER in carbs than Russet Potatoes. 100 grams of Sweet Potato has 20 grams of carbs, and 100 grams of Russet Potato has only 18 grams of carbohydrate.
- "Glycemic Index" has been pretty well debunked, so claims that Sweet Potatoes are magically lower in carbohydrates when they are not actually, are false. Glycemic indexing was another slick marketing ploy to persuade people who are afraid of sugar, that certain sugar alcohols are healthier than granulated sugar (the claim was that since some carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed more slowly than others, that a certain amount of the slower ones did not need to be counted). Not so - not only is the conclusion wrong, but the difference in absorption times is almost negligible. I used insulin at one time, and when you do, you notice which foods impact, and which do not. I promise you that foods sweetened with xylitol (which is generally ignored as a source of "impact" carbs even though it is very high carb) have EXACTLY the same impact, carb for carb, as those sweetened with granulated sugar, and the time it takes for them to impact is not different enough to even notice when doing blood testing every 5 minutes after consumption. So higher carbs in a sweet potato are just that - higher carbs. The ONLY "non impact" carbs are fiber that goes through unprocessed, and there is very little of that in Sweet Potatoes (about 3 grams total fiber per 100 grams, and less than half of that is undigestible, compared to 2.2 for regular Potatoes). BOTH kinds of potatoes create alcohol when fermented - an indication of sufficient simple carbs to impact blood sugar, and they can both create enough to cause intoxication.
- SOME, but not all, Sweet Potatoes are higher in Beta Carotene (a Vitamin A precursor which is counted as Vitamin A by many nutritional sources, even though it is incomplete), and in several other vitamins and minerals than ordinary Potatoes. But they are not a "powerhouse of nutrition", compared to a weak and pathetic Potato. To the contrary, Russets and their kind are very nutritious food, and even more so with skins on. Sweet Potatoes with darker orange flesh are higher in beta carotene than potatoes, but the paler colored sweet potatoes are equivalent to Yukon Gold potatoes.
- Russets are often tested without skins. Approximately 20% of the nutritional value in Potatoes lies on the underside of the skin, and in the top layer of the potato. Eating potatoes with their jackets increases the nutritional content considerably, and gives them additional fiber. ANY nutritional info regarding potatoes is suspect unless it is specified in the information, whether the values were gathered on peeled, or unpeeled potatoes (and often a single listing of nutrients may have some with the skin, and some without, and not specify that this is so). They are especially good sources of Vitamin C, Potassium, and B-6, even without the skins.
- Both are starchy vegetables. Both are classed as vegetables, and count as a vegetable on the plate. Both are nutritious, both are served with similar condiments.
So there is NO NEED to apologize for eating Potatoes. And there is NO NEED for Real Food proponents to be running around trying to elevate the Sweet Potato to some kind of status of superfood, while recoiling in horror at the thought of eating baked Potatoes or Mashies for dinner!
Get over it! The actual facts don't support the myths!
The information on this site is presented for informational purposes only, and consists of the opinions and experiences of the site authors. It is not to be construed as medical advice or to be used to diagnose or treat any illness. Seek the assistance of a medical professional in implementing any nutritional changes with the goal of treating any medical condition. The historical and nutritional information presented here can be verified by a simple web search.