White Potatoes Versus Sweet Potatoes: Nutrition and health experts weigh in on which is better

Food shoppers who visit supermarkets and grocery stores see different varieties of potatoes stacked in the produce aisles, but not many people can say they truly know the differences between white potatoes and sweet potatoes aside from color and taste.

Are white potatoes “better” for health-conscious diets because they contain less sugar?

Or are sweet potatoes “better” because they’re full of “good-for-you” vitamins and minerals?

The simple answer: It depends on your nutritional needs and health needs.

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Whether you’re trying to lose weight or make a more informed dietary decision, play a role in what nutrition and health professionals will tell you.

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Here’s what food and fitness experts have to say about the questions about the white potato versus the sweet potato.

Woman holds shopping list and bag as she stands in front of baskets of potatoes in a supermarket.

Grocery stores and supermarkets typically sell both white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Not everyone knows the nutritional difference between the two. Fox News Digital turned to the experts for insights.

Dr. Katrina Nguyen, a board-certified pediatric gastroenterologist from Loves Park, Illinois, told Fox News Digital that white potatoes and sweet potatoes are both “considered healthy.”

They’re “almost tied” when it comes to nutrition, she said.

“Some experts think the sweet potato might hold a slight edge due to its high vitamin A and beta-carotene content,” Nguyen said. “Both potatoes are equivalent in vitamin B6, vitamin C and fiber.”

Vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and beta-carotene are considered antioxidants, compounds that inhibit oxidation and offer health benefits such as reducing cellular damage and inflammation.

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White potatoes are generally higher in calories, carbohydrates and potassium than sweet potatoes even with their lower sugar content, according to Nguyen.

White potatoes also have “more magnesium and slightly higher iron,” she added.

Sweet potatoes generally contain over 100 to 1,000 times the amount of vitamin A than their non-sweet counterparts, depending on size.

Nguyen noted that sweet potatoes also have higher amounts of calcium and manganese than white potatoes, but have slightly lower protein content.

“The differences between the two potatoes seem minimal, so it really depends on how they’re prepared,” Nguyen said.

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“Both potatoes can be turned into an unhealthy food when fried. Baking them is more nutritious, but you still need to be careful with the seasonings you add.”

Mary Sabat, of Alpharetta, Georgia, a registered dietitian nutritionist and personal trainer who is the president of BodyDesigns, a health coaching company, told Fox News Digital that individual health goals play a factor in where the potato should be. choice.

Sliced ​​white potatoes (left).  Sliced ​​sweet potatoes (right).

White potatoes and sweet potatoes have a similar nutritional profile even though the taste and appearance are different.

“White potatoes and sweet potatoes can be part of a healthy weight loss and weight management diet when eaten in moderation and prepared healthily,” said Sabat. “Individual nutritional needs and preferences can vary.”

Sabat noted that white potatoes tend to have a higher glycemic index than sweet potatoes, meaning they “may cause a more significant spike in blood sugar levels.”

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Despite having a higher sugar content, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes and “have a less pronounced effect on blood sugar levels,” according to Sabat.

“The presence of dietary fiber in sweet potatoes also contributes to better blood sugar control and increased satiety, which may be beneficial for weight management,” she continued.

French fries (left).  French fries (right).

Pan-frying and deep-frying any potato will deplete its nutrients.

Cooking methods and the presence of other ingredients or foods that make up a full meal also play a role in blood sugar spikes, Sabat explained.

“It’s important to note that the glycemic index alone doesn’t determine the overall healthiness of a food,” she said.

“Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes can be part of a balanced diet, and overall diet quality, portion sizes, and methods of preparation are crucial factors in achieving weight loss or weight management goals,” he said. stated Sabat.

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“Boiling or steaming is generally recommended as healthier options than frying, as it helps retain more nutrients.”

While white potatoes and sweet potatoes may work for people actively trying to lose weight or maintain their weight when prepared correctly, white potatoes may be a better option for someone trying to bulk up, according to Deniz Efe, founder of Fitness Equipment, an online exercise guide.

A pot of peeled and boiled white potatoes.

For health-conscious consumers, nutritionists recommend boiling, steaming or baking potatoes.

“For those looking to gain weight or gain muscle mass, the white potato may be the best option because its higher carbohydrate content provides more energy per serving than a sweet potato,” said Efe, who based in Vienna, Austria, and has previously worked with the Austrian Football Association.

The “extra energy” white potatoes provide “can help fuel activity and build muscle with regular strength-training exercises,” according to Efe.

Jennifer Pallian, a registered dietitian, food writer and influencer from Vancouver, Canada who runs the popular food blog Foodess, told Fox News Digital that the fiber content in sweet potatoes is slightly higher in yams.

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“Both types of potatoes are high in fiber, which can help increase feelings of fullness and aid in weight loss or weight management,” Pallian said.

“One medium white potato provides about three grams of fiber while one sweet potato offers about four grams.”

Sweet potato mash served in a dish with green herbs.

Sweet potatoes tend to have a slightly higher fiber content than white potatoes, which generally helps people feel fuller longer.

“Because sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index and slightly more fiber, they may be a better option for weight loss or management because they can help control blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full longer,” has continued.

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Michelle Saari, of Winnipeg, Canada, a registered dietitian with a masters of science who runs the food blog The Dietitian Prescription, also agreed that the slightly higher fiber content in sweet potatoes could satiate appetites longer, which “reduce the number of times you visit the pantry after eating.”

Bonnie Johnson, of Denver, Colorado, director of nutrition at Potatoes USA, a marketing and research organization that represents potato growers across the country, told Fox News Digital that most Americans don’t eat enough greens in general.

The grocery store displays different colors and varieties of potatoes for people to select.

There are over 4,000 potato varieties in the world, and most of them are found in the Andes, according to the International Potato Center.

“We don’t believe in pitting one against the other,” Johnson wrote in an email.

“Both have a place in healthy eating patterns,” she said.

“Research shows that when white potatoes [or sweet potatoes] are served with other vegetables, you eat more total vegetables”.

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