Kidney Diet Tips

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.

Nutrition Facts

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:

Calories                114

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

Pork Tenderloin Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Pie

Cumin Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries


  1. Yam vs Sweet Potato: What’s the Difference? Bon Appétit. Accessed 4/23/23.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

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.

Carisa Ishimaru, RD, LDN

Carisa Ishimaru, RD, LDN

Carisa has been a registered dietitian for over 20 years. She is currently a Renal Dietitian for a Home Program which allows patients to do their dialysis at home via Peritoneal Dialysis or Home Hemodialysis. She is passionate about providing research-based information in a practical, easy to use format. Carisa enjoys cooking and baking healthful foods for her family and friends.