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Sweet potatoes are scientifically called Ipomoea batatas. They are vegetables with starchy roots, so are yams which are cultivated in Asia and Africa. 

Over the decades, there has been total confusion between sweet potatoes and yams. They are technically similar considering they are both root tubers, and names are used interchangeably. Although they are all underground tubers, the difference is still distinctive. Sweet potatoes and yams are used as vegetablesin many dishes. The two vegetables are packed with nutrients, making them more valuable in many countries. The amounts of nutrients in them vary since they are different. The existing confusion should be disclosed so that people might reap the health benefits. This blog will draw the differences between sweet potatoes and yams.


Sweet Potatoes

The scientific name for sweet potatoes is Ipomoea batatas, which are common vegetables rich in starch. History claims that they came from South or Central America, although North Carolina is leading in their production. Sweet potatoes relate to regular potatoes. Similarly, its tuberous roots are consumed as a vegetable. Their shoots and leaves are rarely taken as greens. Nevertheless, these potatoes have a different-looking tuber. Further, they have tapered and long smooth skin, which sometimes varies in color, including orange, yellow, brown or purple, and red to beige. Based on the variety, the flesh could range from orange or purple. Sweet potatoes have two main types; orange-fleshed, and dark-skinned, Others include and pale-fleshed, golden-skinned. Despite the variety, they are commonly moisture and sweeter than normal potatoes. Sweet potatoes are highly robust vegetables and have long storage life, which permits them to be on the market throughout the year. In case they are stored in a dry, cool place, there is a possibility of withstanding from 2-3 months. Furthermore, these potatoes can be bought in a broad range of various versions, usually pre-peeled or whole, cooked and marketed in frozen or cans.


Yams belong to the tuber vegetable family, and they are scientifically called Dioscorea, which originated from Asia and Africa. Currently, yams are typically located in Latin America and the Caribbean. In contrast to sweet potatoes, the size of yams is greater. Some may weigh 60 kilograms or 132 pounds and size 1.5 meters or 5 feet. The distinguishing characteristics that differentiate between a yam and sweet potatoes are majorly skin and size. They assume a cylindrical shape with bark-like, rough, brown skin, which is hard when peeling but softens after being subjected to heat. The flesh might vary in colors from yellow or white, pink or purple for mature ones. Therefore,  yams carry a distinguished taste where they are lesser sweet than sweet potato but are drier and starchier. Additionally, their storage life is long enough, although certain types last longer than others. In the United States, it is difficult to locate true yams because some are imported and hardly noticeable in their local stores.

Nutrition Content

Sweet Potatoes

A pure sweet potato is comprised of 20.1% carbohydrates, 77% water, 3% fiber, 1.6% protein, and entirely no fat. A 100 grams or 3.5 ounce serving of cooked sweet potato without peeling the skin contains 3.3 grams dietary fiber, 90 calories, 0.2 grams fat, 20.7 grams carbs, 2 grams protein, 384% DV vitamin A, 7% DV vitamin B1 (thiamine), 33% DV vitamin C, 6% DV vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), 9% DV vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), 4% DV iron, 14% DV vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 7% DV magnesium, 14% DV potassium, 5% DV phosphorus, 25% DV manganese, and 8% copper.


Contrastingly, some pure and fresh yams are 4% fiber, 24% carbohydrates, 70% water, 1.5% protein, and a negligible amount of fat. A 100 gram or one-ounce serving of baked or boiled yam contains: 3.9 grams dietary fiber, 116 calories, 0.1 grams fat, 27.5 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams protein, 20% DV vitamin C, 2% DV vitamin A, 6% DV vitamin B1 (Thiamine), 3% DV vitamin B3(niacin), 2% DV vitamin B2 (riboflavin), 3% DV vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), 3% DV iron, 11% DV vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 5% DV phosphorus, 5% DV magnesium, 8% DV copper, 19% DV potassium, and 19% DV manganese.

Sweet potatoes seem to contain partially fewer calories per every serving than yams. Further, they have a higher amount of vitamin C and morethan thrice the quantity of beta-carotene, which transforms to vitamin A in the human body. Actually, 100 grams or one ounce of sweet potatoes’ serving offers almost every daily recommended quantity of vitamin A in the body, essential for the immune system and normal vision. Both yams and sweet potatoes contain reasonable quantities of micronutrients, like B vitamins, which are important for multiple bodily roles, including creating DNA and synthesizing energy. Their glycemic index (GI) is an important factor to consider, which helps in determining the extent to which the food affects blood sugar levels. For instance, a low GI causes the blood sugars to hike slowly, while a high GI makes it rise exponentially.

Health Impacts

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato generally is rich in carotenoids and vitamin A which serves in helping the eyes to detect light. Vitamin A inadequacy causes xerophthalmia, which causeblindness. The purple potatoes benefit our vision by supplying antioxidants called anthocyanin, which provides protection to the eyes. This compound is shown to delay the growth of bladder, colorectal, stomach, breast, and colon cancer cells. Moreover, they support weight gain because they are composed of vitamins, complex starches, proteins, and minerals which are simpler to digest.


Yams are rich in resistant starches and fiber, adding to digestive health. Additionally, they inhibit constipation, nourish healthy gut microorganisms, and lower the chances of inflammation and colorectal cancer. Besides, yams aid in weight loss because fiber converts into a gel, which induces satiety in the body.


In comparing their nutrition profile, yams contain a higher amount of fiber and lesser glycemic index, sugars, and sodium than sweet potatoes. However, yams have extreme amounts of sodium and potassium while sweet potato zinc and calcium in average amounts. Regarding this, yams are loaded with more vitamins than sweet potato vegetables except for vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, and vitamin A. They are both anti-diabetic, anti-proliferative, and anti-oxidative. Alongside sweet potatoes contributing to your vision, yams are vital in women for hormonal health. Therefore, the two vegetables should be incorporated into diets without confusion.

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Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

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