Here’s the truth, sweet and regular potatoes are both brilliant sources of carbohydrates. But why is there so much debate about this? In this article, I talk about sweet vs regular potatoes which potatoes are really healthier.
The major difference that ultimately has resulted in sweet potatoes being coined as the magic potato is due to their glycemic index score (GI).
The Glycemic Index (GI)
The glycemic index is a measure of how fast foods are converted into glucose.
For example, boiled sweet potatoes have a modest GI score of 46, whereas boiled white potatoes have a GI score of 82.
The reason that lower GI foods have been thought to be better is because they don’t spike your insulin as much.
And many people believe that when foods spike your insulin levels it makes you gain fat.
But people who believe this are missing the forest for the trees.
Because the only thing that makes you gain fat is eating more calories than you burn consistently.
Insulin Isn’t The Problem
When you eat a lot of carbs your insulin levels do spike. But this is normal.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the metabolism of carbs, fats and proteins.
It does this by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into your liver, and your muscle and fat cells.
In other words, insulin helps your bodies cells absorb nutrients.
So it’s not really a bad thing if your insulin levels spike. For normal healthy people that is. It’s a slightly different story if your diabetic.
Sweet Potatoes Don’t Always Have A Low GI Score
Just to throw a spanner in the works of the glycemic index. How food is cooked has an effect on how fast they get converted into glucose.
For example, a baked sweet potato has a GI score of 94 and a baked white potato has a GI score of 111.
The baking process destroys resistant starch. This means that baked sweet and white potatoes have a higher GI score.
A higher GI score isn’t a bad thing. It just means that that carbohydrate will be converted into glucose quicker.
Potatoes still remain healthy and nutritious even when resistant starch is destroyed.
As Far As Body Composition And Health Go It Really Doesn’t Matter What Kind Of Potato You Choose
Both potatoes contain calories. And they don’t differ that much in their caloric content.
100 grams of raw white potato contains 77 calories.
100 grams of raw sweet potato contains 86 calories.
So in actual fact, the sweet potato that is often touted as the healthier potato is slightly higher in calories.
The truth is that neither potato is better than the other. They’re both very healthy starchy carbohydrate sources.
So where body composition is concerned, it’s about eating the right amount of calories and macronutrients for your goals.
This could be for fat loss, muscle gain or just maintaining your current physique.
As long as you eat the right number of calories and macronutrients for your goals you’ll come one step closer to your desired body composition.
So just eat the potatoes that you enjoy the most, that could be white or sweet potatoes or a mixture of both. It simply doesn’t matter.
Sweet Potatoes Vs Regular Potatoes Which Potato Is Healthier, The Differences
Both potatoes are a tuber. And if you’re not sure what a tuber is, they’re enlarged structures in some plant species used as storage organs for nutrients.
Yams are also a tuber.
There are actually 5000 types of sweet potatoes worldwide and about 4000 varieties of white potato.
The more popular white potato is actually slightly more sparse than the sweet potato (the sweet potato has 1000 more varieties).
Although they’re both called potatoes, botanically ( concerning plants) they’re very different.
For instance, sweet potatoes are in the Convolvulaceae family. And you can eat the leaves of sweet potatoes, These leaves are very nutritious.
The Convolvulaceae family also includes water spinach and other rarer vegetables.
Whereas white potatoes are from the Solanaceae family, alongside peppers, tomatoes, the deadly nightshade and the eggplant.
The plants in this family are poisonous because they produce something called solanine. Make sure that you don’t eat the stems or leaves of any plant in this particular food group.
As you now know sweet potatoes and potatoes are very similar in caloric content.
Although they do provide some nutritional differences, for example:
- Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A.
- White potatoes are higher in potassium.
- Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants (all varieties).
- White potatoes are made up of compounds called glycoalkaloids, which have been shown to have anticancer effects.
What The Two Potatoes Have In Common
Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are both very healthy carb sources. And provide many nutrients including fiber, antioxidants and vitamin c.
Although as discussed before there are advantages to including both potatoes in your diet.
You can prepare them both in similar ways depending on personal preference.
That could be, boiled, baked, mashed or however you fancy. I’ll leave the meal prep to you.
Why You Should Include Potatoes In Your Diet
Both of these tubers are extremely filling. For example, if you eat one or two potatoes with a lean source of protein like tuna or chicken, you’ll find that you feel full for hours.
To show this point in further detail in 2010 a man named Chris Voight who is the Washington state potato commissioner tried a wild experiment.
He spent two months eating nothing but potatoes. At the start, he stopped eating when he was full. And by doing this he lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks.
So as you can see the potatoes filled him up so much that he actually managed to eat in a pretty aggressive calorie deficit.
He had to eat enough calories if he were to come out of a deficit. So he had to increase his intake of potatoes up to 20 potatoes per day.
In his words, he said, “I’d never felt so stuffed”.
He increased his intake of potatoes but still managed to lose weight. And by the end of this crazy diet, he got his bloods tested, and measures such as cholesterol, blood glucose and triglycerides all improved.
This story highlights that potatoes belong in your diet if.
Potatoes Vs Bread
Although bread is a completely acceptable source of carbohydrate in any diet. You get much more bang for your buck if you eat potatoes.
This infographic illustrates my point nicely.
The Bottom Line On Sweet Vs Regular Potatoes Which Potatoes Are Healthier?
- One type of potato isn’t necessarily better than the other. Include them both in your diet.
- Potatoes are some of the most nutritious and filling foods you can eat.
- Sweet and white potatoes can be prepared in a number of different ways so you’ll never get bored of eating them. Prep them how you like.
Thanks for reading, what is your preferred potato? Let me know in the comments below.