YAMS vs SWEET POTATOES - Yam and Sweet Potato Nutritional Comparison

Yams or Sweet Potatoes?
Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

Are these yams or sweet potatoes? Most people in the United States and Canada don't know that yams and sweet potatoes are two different vegetables. Most people believe that yams and sweet potatoes are one and the same. Why? Because most of us have never really seen nor eaten a yam. The true "yam." The true yam is not marketed or grown widely in the United States and Canada. It is sometimes found in Latin American and Asian markets. The true yam is native to Latin America, Africa and Asia.

So why are yams called sweet potatoes? Well, this was done to prevent confusion. Really! It was done in good faith, so to speak. When the moist-fleshed orange-coloured sweet potato was introduced into the United States in the mid-20th century, producers wanted to distinguish it from the white-fleshed sweet potato that most people were used to. They adopted the word "yam" from"nyami", the African word for the root of the Dioscoreae genus of plants. And this crossed the border to Canada and Canadians also started calling this moist-fleshed oranged-coloured sweet potatoes as yams.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture new label requirement requires labeling the moist-fleshed, orange-colored sweet potatoes that are labeled as "yams" also be accompanied by the label "sweet potato." This confused people all the more. So, the proverbial question - Are these yams or sweet potatoes? - still exists.

So let's compare yams and sweet potatoes, shall we?


Yams By heckyes1777, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes
Yams By heckyes1777, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes
sweet_potato By schuttup, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes
sweet_potato By schuttup, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes


YAMS

Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae).







SWEET POTATOES

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae.





Nutritional Comparison between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Vitamin A

Sweet Potatoes contain more Vitamin A, than yams.

Vitamin A is known to fight cancer, builds our immune system, and is considered critical in maintaining proper eye health.

Sweet potatoes are loaded with massive amounts of vitamin A, a nutrient considered critical in maintaining proper eye health. In fact, one sweet potato contains nearly eight times an adult's daily need of this important vitamin, and, because vitamin A is fat-soluble rather than water-soluble, the body can store it for later use.

Yams contain vitamin A but in significantly less amount than sweet potatoes (yam - 122 IU, sweet potato - 19217 IU).

So, when it comes to vitamin A, sweet potatoes are better than yams.


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Calcium, Iron, Vitamin E, and Protein

Sweet potatoes contain significantly higher amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamin E, and twice as much protein per serving, than yams.

Sweet potatoes also contain several other vitamins and minerals in amounts not found in the yams.

Although yams also contain calcium, iron, vitamin E, protein, several other vitamins and minerals, they are in lesser amounts per serving, than sweet potatoes.

So, when it comes to calcium, iron, vitamin E and protein contents, sweet potatoes are better than yams.


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Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Sweet potatoes contain less omega-3, and more omega-6 fatty acids, than yams.

Omega-3 fatty acids have received significant news coverage in recent times owing to their ability to do everything from prevent heart disease to increase brain stamina.

Omega-6 fatty acids are known to inhibit the body's ability to make use of the omega-3's.

Although both the yam and the sweet potato are low-fat foods, the ratio of essential fatty acids is preferable in the yam.

Sweet potatoes contain less omega-3 fats than yams, and have nearly twice as much omega-6 fats.

So, when it comes to fatty acids, yams are better than sweet potatoes.


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Anti-inflammatory Nutrients

Anti-inflammatory compounds are very important in the health of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis, gout, and other inflammation-related diseases.

Sweet potatoes contain massive amounts of these anti-inflammatory nutrients; yams don't.

Yams, not only lack these anti-inflammatory nutrients, but actually contain a number of compounds that aggravate inflammations.

So, when it comes to anti-inflammatory nutrients, sweet potatoes is the big winner.


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Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and other Minerals

Both yam and sweet potato are both loaded with potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as several so-called trace minerals: selenium, zinc, and copper.

However, although both sweet potato and yam seem to have similar high concentrations of key minerals, sweet potatoes have just a little more.

So, when it comes to minerals, sweet potatoes are a little bit better than yams.


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Which is better for people with Diabetes?

Both the sweet potato and yam offer special health benefits to people with diabetes. Both have very low glycemic indexes: sweet potato weighing in at 17, and yam weighing in at 16. However, sweet potatoes might actually help to fight against diabetes.

Although final reports have not yet been published, preliminary researches show that long-term consumption of sweet potatoes can actually help to fight against diabetes symptoms.


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Nutritional Comparison Table - Yams vs Sweet Potatoes

 
Yam, serving size 100 grams
% Daily Value
Sweet Potato, serving size 100 grams
% Daily Value
Calories
116
6%
90
5%
Total Fat
0g
0%
0g
0%
Saturated Fat
0g
0%
0g
0%
Trans Fat
0g
 
0g
 
Total Omega-3 fatty acids
9.0mg
 
4.0mg
 
Total Omega-6 fatty acids
50.0mg
 
60.0mg
 
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
0mg
0%
Total Carbohydrate
27.5g
9%
20.7g
7%
Dietary Fiber
3.9g
16%
3.3g
13%
Starch
 
 
7.0g
 
Sugars
0.5g
 
6.5g
 
Protein
1.5g
3%
2.0g
4%
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
Vitamin A
122 IU
2%
19217 IU
384%
Vitamin C
12.1mg
20%
19.6mg
33%
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)
0.3mg
2%
0.7mg
4%
Vitamin K
2.3mcg
3%
2.3mcg
3%
Thiamin
0.1mg
6%
0.1mg
7%
Riboflavin
0.0mg
2%
0.1mg
6%
Niacin
0.6mg
3%
1.5mg
7%
Vitamin B
60.2mg
11%
0.3mg
14%
Folate
16.0mcg
4%
6.0mcg
1%
Vitamin B12
0.0mcg
0%
0.0mcg
0%
Pantothenic Acid
0.3mg
3%
0.9mg
9%
Choline
16.2mg
 
13.1mg
 
Betaine
0.0mg
 
34.6mg
 
Minerals
 
 
 
 
Calcium
14.0mg
1%
38.0mg
4%
Iron
0.5mg
3%
0.7mg
4%
Magnesium
18.0mg
5%
27.0mg
7%
Phosphorus
49.0mg
5%
54.0mg
5%
Potassium
670mg
19%
475mg
14%
Sodium
8.0mg
0%
36.0mg
1%
Zinc
0.2mg
1%
0.3mg
2%
Copper
0.2mg
8%
0.2mg
8%
Manganese
0.4mg
19%
0.5mg
25%
Selenium
0.7mcg
1%
0.2mcg
0%
 
 
 
 
 
Source: Nutrient data for this listing was provided by USDA SR-21. Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet.


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CONCLUSION:

Based on the above nutrition comparison between the yam and the sweet potato, the sweet potato seems a lot more beneficial to our health, than the yam.

Therefore, given the number of amazing health benefits of sweet potatoes, aren't you glad that all these years you thought you were eating "yams," chances are, you were actually eating the mighty sweet potatoes?


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If you like this article, will you please let the writer know? Please click VOTE.UP below, or share this article with your friends. Comments are greatly appreciated.

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Tongan farmer showing off his prize yams, source: Wikipedia
Tongan farmer showing off his prize yams, source: Wikipedia
SweetpotatoDiane By DuckCreekFarms, source Photobucket
SweetpotatoDiane By DuckCreekFarms, source Photobucket

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Comments 16 comments

Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hiya James, thanks for dropping by. You're kidding me, aren't you? lol just checking. Yams are not sweet potatoes but what we know as yams are really sweet potatoes which are better for us. I'm glad you found my yams and sweet potatoes hub informative. You're welcome.. my pleasure.

Have a nice day,

Rosie


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

This is fascinating. I thought yams and sweet potatoes were the same thing. I thought yams were the finsihed product, with the sweetener and all added in. Thank you for educating me about this.


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

***Hiya Prasetio, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found my comparison informative. Thanks so much for the vote up. Take care

***Hiya Pixienot, me too, I love sweet potatoes. I'm glad you found my hub informative and thanks so much for the vote up and useful.

***Hiya Billy, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed my yams vs sweet potatoes comparison hub. Oh wow, you had spent much of your life in the South Pacific. How cool! I'm glad you like the Tonga photo I included.

Have a nice day everyone,

Rosie


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 5 years ago

Great hub - Sweet potatoes, Kumera, Taro and yams are so good for you. Loved the photo from Tonga - have spent much of my life in the South Pacific and lots of great Tongan and Samoan friends :)


Pixienot profile image

Pixienot 5 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

I've loved sweet potatoes all my life. Now I have even more reason to love them.

Thank you for all of this information. Excellent job.

Voted up and useful!


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