Are Yams and Sweet Potatoes the Same?

Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Food, Drink & Nutrition, Health with 0 Comments
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Source: Danette May

Have you ever had the “yam vs. sweet potato” debate?

You know, the one about whether the orange or white-fleshed vegetable is a yam or a potato?


Do you think you know which is which?

Chances are very good that what you think you know about yams is wrong. In fact, you may never have actually had a yam.

When you go to the market, you may see sweet potatoes that are labeled as yams, but the signs are rarely right.

The two are very different. In fact, they are almost nothing alike other than that they are both tubers that come from a flowering plant.

Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

  • A yam comes from either Africa or Asia and sometimes from the Caribbean. They’re one of the world’s most consumed foods and have been grown for over 50,000 years.

Sweet potatoes are grown in the United States.

  • Yams can grow as long as five feet, but most are the same size and shape as a normal potato.

Sweet potatoes are the size of potatoes, though they may be a bit longer with tapered ends.

  • Yams have skin that is hairy or scaly like bark, and it is either black or brown.

Sweet potatoes have skin that can be brown, purple, red, white, or yellow.

  • The flesh of a yam is usually white, purple or a red color.

Sweet potatoes can have flesh that is white, yellow or a range of orange shades.

Yams are drier than sweet potatoes. They also have more starch.

I should make it clear that sweet potatoes are a great choice but my point here is that too many people think they’re eating yams when they’re really eating sweet potatoes.

Most chain grocery stores don’t sell them, though their signs say that they do. Grocery stores use a lot of tricks like this.

In most cases, the items that grocery stores sell as yams are actually soft sweet potatoes that have deep orange skin and flesh.

Health Benefits of Yams

Yams are:

  • an excellent source of energy since they’re a complex carb with a low glycemic index.
  • a great source of soluble fiber and B complex vitamins.
  • high in Vitamin C and contain lots of antioxidants and minerals, including potassium, copper and iron.

They’ve been used as a traditional medicine for hundreds of years, in large part because they contain allantoin, which is known to heal skin diseases.

Allantoin is also used to treat respiratory issues like coughs and bronchitis.

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