The importance of potatoes and sweet potatoes
Despite their ugly appearance, potatoes and sweet potatoes are ranked 2nd in the most popular crops in the world. Both are considered important for global food security. In 2019, around 370 million tonnes of potatoes were harvested worldwide, while the total sweet potato harvest was nearly 92 million tonnes.
Apart from that, potatoes and sweet potatoes are also staples in diets around the world. Besides being healthy, the price is also very cheap and easy to make a variety of dishes.
Botanical aspects of potatoes and sweet potatoes
Potato belongs to the Ca family, while sweet potato belongs to the kale family. Both are root vegetables, which means you’ll be eating their underground roots.
Regular potatoes have a white or yellow inside, while sweet potatoes usually have an orange inside. Both have brown skin, but this can vary depending on the variety.
There are more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes and 1,000 varieties of sweet potatoes grown globally.
Potato and sweet potato nutrition
Overall, potatoes and sweet potatoes are both low in calories, low in fat, and rich in the following nutrients:
Fiber: Half of the fiber from a potato or sweet potato is in the skin. So, if possible, you should rinse them to remove any dirt and treat the potatoes with their skins.
Carbohydrate: Potatoes and sweet potatoes are both considered starchy crops due to their high carbohydrate content, which increases energy.
Potassium: An interesting fact is that potatoes and sweet potatoes contain more potassium than bananas.
Vitamin B6: One medium potato or sweet potato provides about 30% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6. This vitamin helps you improve the health of your brain and nervous system.
Vitamin C: Surprised? You can get about a quarter of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C from eating potatoes or sweet potatoes, about the same as you get from oranges, which are often first mentioned when it comes to vitamin C.
The following table compares the nutritional value of potatoes and sweet potatoes, based on average sizes:
So it’s healthier to eat sweet potatoes or sweet potatoes?
Whatever the answer, it is clear that sweet potatoes and sweet potatoes still qualify as nutritious and healthy foods. But if forced to choose, sweet potatoes will have a slight advantage thanks to the amount of beta carotene and vitamin A.
The orange flesh of the sweet potato is due to beta carotene – an antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from various types of cancer. Your body will also convert beta carotene into a certain level of vitamin A.
In the end, the ultimate choice remains up to your preference. You should also use both types of potatoes in your diet to add more nutrients.
Healthy cooking with potatoes and sweet potatoes
While potatoes and sweet potatoes are both healthy, they can turn into “fat bombs” with lots of calories if cooked incorrectly. A typical example is the french fries dish. A 2017 study also found that eating French fries twice a week increased the risk of death. This is really sad news for the “followers” of this popular snack.
To get the maximum benefit from the nutrition of potatoes and sweet potatoes, cook them in as little oil and sauce as possible, and don’t forget to save the skins.