Are Sweet Potatoes Healthier Than White Potatoes?

I get asked this question all the time, “which is healthier: sweet potatoes or white potatoes?” It’s a solid question and deserves the proper answer.

If I’m being honest, I hate this question because first you must dissect one important term: healthier? There is no real definitive definition for what “healthy” actually means. It’s very contextual and subjective. Therefore, I do not feel 100% comfortable answering the question.

But, I tell you what. I’ll break down the nitty gritty on sweet and white potatoes. I’ll give you all the information you need to make the best decision for you. After all, it’s your health and physique you’re trying to build. And, at the end, if you’re a good reader, I’ll give you my answer! Maybe.


Macronutrient Breakdown

Calories Protein Carbs  Fats
Sweet Potato (100g) 150 2.5 35 0
White Potato (100g) 138 3.5 32 0

From a macronutrient perspective, there isn’t a huge difference. Sweet potatoes are a little more calorically dense with a few additional carbohydrates. Nothing here to get all in a tizzy about.

But, be reminded, the above calorie and macronutrient breakdown is only for the potato. Any toppings you add may increase the caloric value significantly. I think that should go without saying but it’s best to cover your butt sometimes.


Micronutrient Breakdown

Sodium (mg) Potassium (mg) Fiber (g) Sugars (g) Vitamin A (%) Vitamin C (%) Calcium (%)
Sweet Potato 96 590 5 7 495 7 5
White Potato 32 814 5 2.5 0 30 2

Breaking down the micronutrient profiles, you won’t find a huge difference here either. Sweet potatoes provide you with much more Vitamin A than white potatoes. While white potatoes provide significantly more potassium than the sweet potato.

Which is better and/or healthier?

Good question, both Vitamin A and potassium are important nutrients for your body. You can also get both of these nutrients through various other food sources. Nothing here really sticks out to me, nor gives one an edge over the other.


The Blood Sugar Debate

A lot of debate surrounds the use of Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL). These numbers can vary greatly, within the same foods, based upon how they are prepared. Even different people respond differently to the same foods. The variables are vast and honestly I don’t place much value on the GI or GL numbers.

The GI and GL are tested with only those foods eaten in isolation. If you eat a sweet potato and a steak, the GI and GL will be affected by the addition of the protein and fat of the steak. Most of the time, foods are not eaten in isolation. Often, they are eaten along with other things. That will greatly affect the GI and GL.

Even the speed of digestion is variable. The speed of digestion depends on how well you chew your food. The variables are just too vast to directly pinpoint and know for sure how specific foods (not eaten in isolation) food affect your blood sugar.

Even then, it’s a good thing that your blood sugar increases upon eating and for a short time afterwards. Where you run into problems, is if your body isn’t regulating blood sugar properly and blood sugar remains high long after your meal.


So, to come full circle, I answer the question by saying that it’s your preference. Personally, I think both are good options and are quality carb sources. So, the next time you find yourself stuck choosing between sweet or white potato, go with the one your heart desires!


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