Food Facts Friday: Yam or Sweet Potato?
Sweet potatoes and yams: What’s the difference? According to Bon Appétit1, most yams at the supermarket are actually orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. So, why do they have two names? In the 1930s, Louisiana sweet potato growers marketed a “new” kind of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as “yams” to help their produce stand out from other states’. The name stuck; however, the USDA now requires the word “yam” to be accompanied by “sweet potato” in official descriptions.
Sweet Potato and Yam Differences
While very similar, sweet potatoes and yams do have some differences. Yams have a rough brown skin and a starchy potato-like inside. Sweet potatoes have a softer skin and creamier inside. According to the United States Sweet Potato Council Inc.2, there are hundreds of sweet potato varieties, which can be divided into five basic types:
- Orange skin with orange flesh
- Red skin with orange flesh
- Yellow skin with white flesh
- Purple skin with white flesh
- Purple skin with purple flesh
How to Select Sweet Potatoes
Look for firm sweet potatoes that are free from signs of decay, bruises, cracks or signs of sprouting. Sweet potatoes are more perishable than white potatoes, so be mindful when selecting them. Choose similar-sized sweet potatoes for more uniform cooking.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes
Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry dark area. Place in a basket or bowl. Do not store in the refrigerator. Sweet potatoes can store for up to two weeks, if stored properly.
If you are following a low-potassium diet, sweet potatoes must be limited as they are high in potassium. According to the USDA3, 1 cup of sweet potato cubes contains:
Total fat 0.1 gm
Sodium 73 mg
Potassium 448 mg
Total Carb 27 gm
Dietary Fiber 4 gm
Protein 2.1 gm
Enjoy these sweet potato recipes from DaVita.com.
- Yam vs Sweet Potato: What’s the Difference? Bon Appétit. Accessed 4/23/23. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/difference-between-sweet-potato-and-yam
- The United States Sweet Potato Council Inc. www.sweetpotatousa.org Accessed 4/27/23
- USDA FoodData Central. Accessed 4/27/23 fdc.nal.usda.gov
Additional Kidney Diet Resources
Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.