White potatoes are often given a bad rap while sweet potatoes seem to be glorified as a health food. Is there any truth to sweet potatoes being “healthier” than white potatoes, or is the only difference colour? Read on to find out.
You might be surprised that in term of calories and macronutrients, sweet potatoes and white potatoes are pretty much the same. A 120 gram baked potato or sweet potato both contain about 110 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrate. However, be careful of the health halo effect of ordering sweet potato fries instead of regular fries. If you order the sweet potato fries over the regular fries at the Keg, you’ll also be ordering an extra 260 calories.
When comparing the vitamin and mineral differences between sweet potatoes and white potatoes, sweet potatoes are a clear winner when it comes to vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in eye and skin health and immune function. However, the other vitamins and minerals are very similar between the two. Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are a great source of potassium and vitamin B6.
Sweet potatoes do have a slightly lower glycemic index than white potatoes. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast blood sugars rise and fall after eating a food. Lower glycemic index foods tend to keep you full longer since they keep blood sugar levels more stable. However, there are many factors that influence glycemic index, such as other foods consumed and even preparation method. Since people rarely just eat potatoes by themselves, glycemic index is not the most accurate measurement.
Where potatoes can become a problem is the preparation technique, and what other foods are being consumed with them. The classic example is French fries. 120 grams of French fries contain 360 calories compared to 110 calories in a 120 gram baked potato. It’s also a whole lot easier to overeat French fries. The other issue is what is being added to the potato. While a baked potato is a great option, it becomes less so if you’re smothering it in butter, cheese or sour cream.
In a carbahophobic country, potatoes often get a bad rap. However, both sweet and white potatoes are whole grains, a great source of fibre and deserve a place on your plate. When it comes to deciding between the two, choose the one which tastes best to you.