Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are both diet staples that have been consumed widely across various cultures, however, in recent years, a debate as to which one is “healthier” has emerged. Although sweet potatoes are often touted as a healthier option, these tubers are a lot more similar than you may think. Here is a complete nutritional breakdown of sweet potato vs. white potato.
The Difference Between Sweet Potato and White Potato
Although they share the same name, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes are botanically unrelated; sweet potatoes are from the Convolvulaceae plant family, while white potatoes come from the Solanaceae plant family. Sweet potatoes are relative to morning glories, other vines, trees, and shrubs, while white potatoes are relative to nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. For this reason, sweet potatoes and white potatoes offer different nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
White potatoes come in shades of brown, yellow, and red, with white or yellow flesh, while sweet potatoes are typically orange in color, however, are also found in yellow, purple, and red varieties. Although, in some countries, sweet potatoes are referred to as yams, they are also a different species of plant. (1)
Sweet Potato vs. White Potato: Nutrition
Nutritionally speaking, both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are good sources of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Here is a nutrition comparison of 100 grams of baked sweet potato vs. white potato. (2)(3)
Calories: A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato contains 90 calories and a 100-gram serving of baked white potato contains 94 calories, making it a virtual tie.
Protein: A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato contains 2.0 grams of protein and a 100-gram serving of baked white potato contains 2.1 grams of protein, making it a virtual tie.
Fat: A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato contains 0.2 grams of fat and a 100-gram serving of baked white potato contains 0.2 grams of fat, making it a tie.
Carbohydrates: A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato contains 21.0 grams of carbohydrates and a 100-gram serving of baked white potato contains 21.5 grams of carbohydrates, making it a virtual tie.
Fiber: A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato contains 3.3 grams of fiber and a 100-gram serving of baked white potato contains 2.1 grams of fiber, making sweet potato the winner by a slight margin.
Sugar: A 100-gram serving of baked sweet potato contains 6.5 grams of sugar and a 100-gram serving of baked white potato contains 1.4 grams of sugar, making white potato the winner by a small margin.
|NUTRITION PER 100 G||SWEET POTATO||WHITE POTATO|
|Calories||90 calories||94 calories|
|Protein||2.0 grams||2.1 grams|
|Fat||0.2 grams||0.2 grams|
|Carbohydrate||21.0 grams||21.5 grams|
|Fibre||3.3 grams||2.1 grams|
|Starch||7.0 grams||18.0 grams|
|Sugar||6.5 grams||1.4 grams|
Sweet Potato vs. White Potato: Vitamins & Minerals
While sweet potatoes and white potatoes are nutritionally similar in terms of their calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate content, they do differ slightly in their micronutrient content, namely in their vitamin A content.
Generally speaking, both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are dense sources of nutrients, each providing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, however, sweet potatoes provide 384% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A, while white potatoes provide 0%. With that said, white potatoes do provide more folate, niacin, phosphorus, and potassium per serving, while other values remain quite similar. (2)(3)
|NUTRITION PER 100 G||SWEET POTATO % DV||WHITE POTATO %DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||1%||10%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||7%||3%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||6%||3%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||7%||8%|
|Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic Acid)||9%||4%|
Sweet Potato vs. White Potato: Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load
Glycemic index (GI) rankings are given to carbohydrate-based foods depending on how quickly or slowly they increase blood sugar levels once consumed. Foods with a GI ranking of 70 or more cause a more rapid spike in blood sugar levels compared to foods with GI ranking of 55 to 69, which cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels, and foods with a GI ranking of 55 or less, which case a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
The glycemic index ranking of a potato is dependent on the type of potato and how it was prepared. For example, boiled sweet potatoes have a GI ranking of 44, while boiled white potatoes have a GI ranking of 54, and baked sweet potatoes have a GI ranking of 94, and baked white potatoes have a GI ranking of 73. (4)
In addition to the glycemic index, the glycemic load (GL) accounts for how much carbohydrate is in the food and how much each gram of carbohydrate in the food raises blood sugar levels.
The glycemic load ranking of a potato is also dependent on the type of potato and how it was prepared. For example, boiled sweet potatoes have a GL ranking of 11, while boiled white potatoes have a GL ranking of 14, and baked sweet potatoes have a GL ranking of 10, and baked white potatoes have a GL ranking of 17. (4)
Overall, given the glycemic index is ranked on a scale of 100, the differences between sweet potatoes and white potatoes are minimal, not to mention, both sweet and white potatoes fall mid-range in terms of glycemic load.
So, Is Sweet Potato or White Potato Better for You?
Although sweet potatoes do contain more fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese, white potatoes contain slightly less sugar, more starch, and more folate. Sweet potatoes tend to have a lower glycemic index and glycemic load when boiled, however, white potatoes have a lower glycemic index when baked. Overall, sweet potatoes and white potatoes are nutritionally very similar in terms of calorie, protein, and fat content per serving, as well as contain similar values of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and copper.
The Bottom Line
In the battle of sweet potatoes vs. white potatoes, there really isn’t a clear winner. Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are whole-food sources of carbohydrates and nutrients, containing fiber, vitamins, and minerals. How each potato affects health and weight is largely dependent on how they are prepared and in what quantity. Generally speaking, it is best to opt for sweet potatoes and white potatoes that are baked, boiled, roasted, or mashed, and limit options that are deep-fried in the form of French fries or potato chips.