The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow

A.A. Milne

Ohhhh potatoes. I love potatoes, in all forms, shapes and sizes. Jacket, mashed, boiled, sautéed, roasted, chipped….. So good! White potatoes and sweet potatoes, I love them all.  It’s often thought that sweet potato is better for you than other white potatoes. It seems to be the go to potato for those trying to improve their health, lose weight, reduce cards. For many reasons the sweet potato is seen to be the better of the two. Is that really the case though?

Both are highly nutritious. They have similar calories at around 90 calories per 100g and (maybe surprisingly) they also have very similar carbohydrate, fat and protein content. So where are the differences?

With skins on the sweet potato wins the fibre competition hands down, with around 50% more fibre than the white potato. Fibre is really important for digestive health, keeping things moving, feeding our good gut bacteria, and helping to protect us against nasty diseases. In the UK we should be aiming for 30g per day so the skin on sweet potato is a good place to start.

In the vitamin stakes, the sweet potato completely mashes the white potato with its really high vitamin A content. Vitamin A is essential for good immunity, maintaining good eyesight, and contributes to healthy skin and hair. 100g of sweet potato provides 107% of your daily recommended intake, while the white potato provides just 0.1%. Quite the difference hey!

It also provides more of vitamins C and B6, which are great for healthy skin, bones, blood and overall cell health.

White potato marginally wins the minerals contest though, It has better potassium levels, which we need for muscle contraction, nerve function, heart health and the regulating of blood pressure.

Roast potatoes
Sweet potato slices

There can be some differences in how the potatoes affect your blood sugar levels, with sweet potatoes on the whole causing less of a spike.

This is good because it means it is being digested more slowly, providing you with energy over a longer period. However, this isn’t gospel truth across the board. It varies widely dependant on the type of potato and how it is cooked.

If you leave the skin on there is less of an impact on blood sugar, whereas in comparison if you peeled, boiled and mashed the potatoes the impact is much higher because it is more quickly digested.

 

So which one wins? I don’t know that there is a clear winner here but if I HAD to choose one over the other here my preference would probably be the sweet potato. I think instead of saying one is better than the other we should say that both have benefits and have a place in a well-balanced diet. More to the point, which one do you like the most? That one is the winner, surely?

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Although the post makes reference to meeting the levels of vitamin A in the diet, there are safe upper limits for the intake and it is not advisable to take supplements and also eat foods high in vitamin A. Please take a look at the page from the NHS which gives guidance on this: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a.