White Potato vs Sweet Potato: WHO WINS?

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For all those insomniacs never realizing the cause of their sleep deprivation, I give you the answer to the long awaited question: White Potato vs. Sweet Potato: WHO WINS?

First, I will start by saying BOTH forms of potato (especially in organic form) are naturally HEALTHY products that provide good sources of nutrition. Interestingly, there are distinct differences between these vegetables coming from two different botanical families. White potatoes come from the Solanaceae family and Sweet potatoes come from the Convolvulaceae family. Although there are thousands of varieties, I will keep this simple by focusing on the white potato vs. the sweet potato. The following graph provides some nutrition facts; white potato on the left, sweet potato on the right:

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Reference Source: Cleveland Clinic

This chart shows that white potatoes have greater amounts of protein, potassium, magnesium and iron as well as CALORIES and CARBOHYDRATES. Sweet potatoes have greater amounts of Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, SUGAR and manganese (a mineral important in the formation of bones, connective tissues, blood-clotting factors and sex hormones as well as involvement in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation and brain and nerve function). It is lower in calories and overall carbohydrates.

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Isn’t SUGAR just a substitute for the word DEVIL?

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I’m glad you asked. We must review two terms to answer this question. They include:

  • Glycemic Index– measures HOW QUICKLY food coverts to glucose (a sugar the body uses as fuel.)

  • Glycemic Load– measures HOW MUCH food converts to glucose.

In both cases, the lower the number the less risk factor for causing sugar health problems. The following chart examines our two potatoes:

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Atkinson, Fiona, et asl. International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care 31 no.12 (December 2008): 2281-2283

You will notice the BAKED white potato has a higher GI than the BAKED sweet potato, BUT, The BAKED white potato has a LOWER GL than the BAKED sweet potato. This means that BAKING a white potato causes faster sugar conversion, BUT actually converts a SMALLER amount. This explains why the baked sweet potato has more sugar in it. In addition, overcooking a sweet potato (causing the potato to dehydrate) increases the sugar concentration even more.

You will also notice that BOILING both types of potatoes reduce the GI AND GL in each. When we compare the GI and GL of each potato while boiling them, we see the sweet potato produces the healthier response.

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DOES THIS MEAN WE HAVE A WINNER?

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Not yet! We need to first understand what RESISTANT STARCH is. Resistant starch is a partially UNDIGESTED starch that is broken down and utilized as nutrition in the large intestines. It is found in BOTH white potatoes and sweet potatoes (although higher in quantity in white potatoes.) When white potatoes are cooked and COOLED, it changes their starch form making it more resistant to digestion. This blocks the typical elevated insulin response that many fear when eating white potatoes. The fermenting of resistant starches in the colon also creates short chain fatty acids (SCFA) that improve gut bacteria function providing a better environment for nutrient absorption as well as inhibiting disease.

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Β  SO, IT’S THE WHITE POTATO THAT WINS?

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Wait a minute! White potatoes belong to a class called “Nightshades.” This is a botanical class of plants containing GLYCOALKALOIDS (a chemical substance that can be toxic for human consumption.) These substances protect the white potato from bacteria, fungi, viruses and insects. This is what makes large quantities of raw white potatoes and their leaves dangerous for consumption. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand do not fall under this classification of botanical plant. Both the potato and its leaves can be consumed in a raw state providing sources of good healthy nutrition. Nightshade fruits and vegetables do not cause life threatening harm to most people. The harm seen is typically an allergic reaction resulting in intestinal upset, joint pain and swelling, nausea and overall dis-ease.

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I’M CONFUSED, WHICH ONE SHOULD I EAT?

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The average person should include BOTH in their diet. Both types of potatoes are REAL FOOD filled with healthy sources of energy that satiate hunger. If concerned about sugar in these products, boil them to reduce the glycemic index and glycemic load. Allow the white potatoes to cool (in a refrigerator) to increase the resistant starch to mitigate an insulin response. Finally, eat them AS THEY ARE (including their skin!) The biggest problem with the potato is NOT THE POTATO; it’s the butter, sour cream, sugar, cheese, bacon, ranch dressing and fried onions that we load on top of our healthy potato to satisfy our palate while damaging our bodies.

As I hear the sighs of relief by providing YOU, my fellow bloggers, THE ANSWER to this multi generational dilemma causing many restless nights of insomnia and inner turmoil, I wish you all a healthy and happy “SPUD” weekend!

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I would like to thank Cooking For The Time Challenged for asking my opinion about white vs sweet potatoes and suggesting I write about it. I frequently view her blog site to find many dishes that satisfy taste, flavorΒ  and presentation while making the process simple and quick. I think you will enjoy her recommendations as well.

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39 comments

  1. Great information Jonathan. I do tend to eat only sweet potatoes and I agree, it’s all about what we put on them or how we cook them. The white potatoe has more nutrients than I thought, but I guess that doesn’t apply to hot chips ha! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It looks like my discipline will take a backseat this coming weekend as my Charlotte Panthers (I live in North Carolina) take on the Denver Broncos in the Superbowl! Should be a lot of fun. Deviating occasionally satisfies that 10-20% comfort food allowance that’s all part of balanced living.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Enjoy! I agree we need that balance.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t bring myself to eat sweet potatoes in any form. I am very picky and I pick junk food over healthy if I have a choice. we need to go shopping again. No food in the house. Healthy or otherwise. I need to follow in my son’s footsteps and he has a higher willpower than me. I envy him at times and he exercises and runs obstacle courses and stuff like that. He wants to be a personal trainer w/nutrition options. He is already certified for the personal trainer and will finish the nutrition course soon I think.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What is holding you back from following his example? One small suggestion would be to avoid buying products for the house you know are harmful. If it’s not there, it can’t be eaten. You might also want to keep a glass of water next to that computer keyboard to maintain ample hydration. These small baby steps add up and produce results.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The water I do and when he decides we go shopping I will get some fruits and/or veggies. He makes it look so interesting. When I asked him why he was eating something he didn’t like he told me because it is good for you. He has the right attitude, he slips now and then but tries his best. I do at least get more water. Always here by the computer. He is trying to help me. I am his first client LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Surprised, but grateful for the results. I stopped adding all of that stuff to the potato long ago. I love both. Thanks for this great post. You always find a refreshing way to make these topics interesting

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It can be a challenge to write about potatoes without causing narcolepsy. πŸ™‚ I try to add personality AND credible information to humanize the content while providing value to those in search of healthier living.
      Thank you for providing such positive feedback. I truly appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Last night I had a baked (white) potato with black beans, roasted broccoli, a bit of cheese and salsa. SO GOOD. And CHEAP. Which is pretty much a requirement for my meals these days! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. High five! A good healthy meal that’s FULL OF FLAVOR. It’s unfortunate that so many people believe taste must be sacrificed for quality. Well done. I certainly understand that a limited budget requires creative thinking, but make certain you always put yourself and your health FIRST. Life within a sick body can become a lifetime prison sentence otherwise.
      Keep putting one foot in front of the other to move forward; it’s not how big the steps are, but rather the path you take.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for answering this long pondered about question! I mean it, I like both types of potatoes but have always thought their high glycemic reputation meant I should eat them sparingly. It’s good to know it seems to be a wash. Really enjoyed you keeping us in suspense throughout the article too, very clever!

    I myself prefer the white ones baked with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. If I eat them who;e a little butter and bacon bits are a great accompaniment. I know, not the most healthy thing…;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As far as I’m concerned, indulging is all part of the 10-20% I encourage people to participate in to satisfy comfort eating. This is what keeps healthy eating realistic and achievable throughout life.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It’s tough to keep a readership engaged over potatoes! πŸ™‚
      Have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As always your blog is full of wonderful information. I think I will add a sweet potato to the veggies i’m juicing this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking forward to future recipes, music, wine and spirit recommendations and that famous cigar.

      Like

  7. I appreciate your wonderful blog ~ https://goo.gl/LU6fZ8

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind mention in your blog award. It is always nice to know that people appreciate the effort put into these blog posts. Hopefully, some of the messages spread all over the world to help enhance the quality of people’s lives. Keep smiling, sweet lady. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You too πŸ™‚ My pleasure, you deserved it. Take care x

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for this wonderful post. I know that it sounds ridiculous, but, this has been an ongoing nutritional question that I have had. I REALLY appreciate your kind attention and response. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Providing a little education about the nutritional value of potatoes required some humor to keep my readers awake. πŸ™‚ I hope those with sugar issues also gained some benefit. Thank you again for asking the question about white vs sweet potato. You provided the motivation for this post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure! It is an ongoing discussion with patients who must count carbs, and the humor was appreciated!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for dealing with one of the Great Questions so readably and informatively. I had been under the mistaken impression that sweet potatoes had a definite overall nutritional advantage over white potatoes. (To me, they still look better and taste better!) The effect of boiling and cooling on GI/GL may motivate me to try making German potato salad with sweet potatoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One reason white potatoes get a bad rap is because they are lumped in the same category as white rice. White rice is processed reducing much of the value where as white potatoes remain a whole food. Sweet potato German salad? Never even gave it a thought. Go for it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hummmm very interesting….makes for a good argument for sure, but I will stick with my yam…don’t get me wrong, I do love a good bowl of mashed potatoes with gravy too, I was raised on them…but most the time I will pick the yam…I have them out of the microwave with fresh squeezed orange juice and grated nutmeg and cinnamon over it…yum… love your post…kat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a sweet potato man myself (although I’m not a big lover of potatoes overall.) Just wanted to share some unknown truths and tricks to eat potatoes without causing increased concern for sugar reactions by the body.
      You stick with those yams and you WILL do the body GOOD!

      Like

      1. I love them over white….they can do everything white can and more….sweet potato pies….yummmm

        Liked by 1 person

        1. LOL πŸ˜€

          Like

  11. Good! I’m Irish and love my potatoes! I wasn’t giving up my white ones anyways! Lol. But I’m glad somebody said it! I mean I always say I would choose white potatoes over bread etc any day. If it grows naturally how can it be bad?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Irish with ATTITUDE πŸ™‚ (meant in a 100% positive way!) Your last sentence (slightly modified) should resonate in everyone’s ears; if it grows naturally and offers nutritional value, it is likely something we should consume! Keep enjoying those potatoes! Consider cooling them as I described in the article to improve the way our bodies process them. Stay healthy and happy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s funny, I have always been one to like foods cold. like leftovers, I always like them better cold. Most people find it strange but not me. I also love your posts. Always positive, informative and balanced. Thanks

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s always nice to start a Monday off smiling. Thank you for your kind words and my Monday smile! πŸ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Glad to read this Doc as I often struggle with myself when I have white potatoes always thinking that they should really be the Sweet ones but I am so pleased that for once I have a comparison between the two and can easily work out what ones do what safe in the knowledge that neither are really that harmful when eaten (like everything else) in moderation…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes we make life more complicated than necessary. Eat healthy, eat in moderation, keep our bodies in motion, create quiet time for our minds, love our families and friends and enjoy the gifts that life has to offer. Following the suggestions in this one short sentence has the ability to improve almost everyone’s life. Stay healthy and happy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely. They are without doubt the words behind the phrase “Choose Life”!!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I had no idea you could eat the leaves of the sweet potato plant! I haven’t tried growing sweet potatoes, but perhaps I should! I thoroughly enjoyed this post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve expanded my world with all your projects; it’s nice to be able to return the favor and expand your world. Good luck farmer Koko πŸ™‚

      Like

  14. Reblogged this on One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100 and commented:
    Dr. Jonathan does a great job here on giving us chapter and verse on a fascinating pair of potatoes. I know I learned a lot. Hope you do too.

    Tony

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tony. It was a fun article to write.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You did a great job!

        Liked by 1 person

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