Both potatoes and their sweeter cousins pack a nutritional punch. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest calls sweet potato a “nutritional all-star,” and names it one of the best vegetables you can eat. The regular potato, however, has never been bestowed with this honor. Instead, it’s labeled a diet trap.
And because both contain an equal amount of calories, you might wonder why the sweet potato (which has more sugar) is considered healthier. Here’s why:
1. Sweet Potatoes Have A Higher Fiber Content
According to the American Dietetic Association, fiber is an essential nutrient lacking in the American diet. It aids bowel movements and lowers blood cholesterol levels. While a 100g serving of white potato contains 2.2g fiber, the same serving of sweet potato contains 3.3g. Fiber is found in both, the skin and the guts of the potato. Adult women need 25g fiber a day, and adult men need 30g per day.
2. Sweet Potatoes Are Loaded With Vitamins
The vitamin content does vary more significantly between the two potatoes. The sweet potato is higher in vitamin C and significantly higher in vitamin A. One serving of sweet potato provides around 400 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement. Vitamin A supports growth and development, eye health and the immune system. “People are very anti-potato due to the whole carb issue. But with its rich orange color, the sweet potato is full of the antioxidant beta carotene, and is a good source of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are lower in calories than your regular starchy white potato,” says Mayo Clinic registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky.
3. They Are The Healthy Kind Of Sweet
Sweet potatoes are sweet-tasting, but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, thus making them a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.
4. They Contain Many More Nutrients
Sweet potatoes are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and phosphorus. All these nutrients support various bodily functions.
The Right Way To Cook Sweet Potatoes
Bear in mind that fries—by any other name—are just as fatty. So even though sweet potato fries may have more vitamin A than regular fries, their high fat content negates any nutritional benefit they would provide you. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, sweet potatoes need to be cooked simply, in order to enjoy their nutritional benefits. The website states, “Cutting them into half-inch slices and steaming for just seven minutes not only brings out their great taste, but helps to maximize their nutritional value. You can add cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cloves for extra flavor and nutrition.”