Potatoes are the most eaten vegetable in the United States. While most of us think that sweet potatoes are much healthier than the white variety, dietitian Shyla Cadogan says white potatoes can also be part of a nutritious diet. So that's good news if you, or your guests, prefer white potatoes
While both varieties are root vegetables, they come from different families, Cadogan tells Study Finds. Sweet potatoes come from one called Convolvulaceae, and white potatoes are part of the Solanaceae tribe, a variety of nightshade veggies like eggplants and tomatoes.
Both white and sweet potatoes contain about two grams of protein, not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things. Their carbohydrate count is similar with a medium white having about 26 grams and a medium sweet potato containing approximately 23 grams.
In terms of calories, sweet potatoes have fewer than white ─ 100 calories for a medium sized compared to 150 for a medium-sized white spud.
If you boil potatoes they have a lower glycemic index than if you roast them, says Cadogan. But it is recommended to pair potatoes with a non-starchy vegetable for fiber and a protein source to slow the glycemic response. This is especially important for people with diabetes.
Sweet potatoes have slightly more fiber than white potatoes, 3.5 grams versus two grams. Fiber helps to digest the sugars in the potatoes as well as satisfy hunger.
The big difference between the two varieties of potatoes is that orange sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene, which gives them their orange hue. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, providing over 100 percent of your daily needs. According to Healthline, one cup of baked orange sweet potato with skin provides more than double the amount of beta carotene than the average adults needs per day, vitamin A helps preserve our vision and improve eye health.
Purple sweet potatoes have some beta carotene but are an even richer source of anthocyanin pigments, which act as antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. In fact, purple sweet potatoes have about three time more anthocyanins than the average blueberry, says WebMD. White potatoes have no beta carotene and negligible anthocyanins, but both types do provide vitamin C, B6, potassium (more in white), calcium and magnesium.
The bottom line is both sweet and white potatoes provide healthy carbs for your body, along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Sweet potatoes stand out because they provide vitamin A, but otherwise both are nutritionally similar, says Cadogan.
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