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YAMS vs SWEET POTATOES - Yam and Sweet Potato Nutritional Comparison

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Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

Are these yams or sweet potatoes? Most people in the United States and Canada don't know that yams and sweet potatoes are two different vegetables. Most people believe that yams and sweet potatoes are one and the same. Why? Because most of us have never really seen nor eaten a yam. The true "yam." The true yam is not marketed or grown widely in the United States and Canada. It is sometimes found in Latin American and Asian markets. The true yam is native to Latin America, Africa and Asia.

So why are yams called sweet potatoes? Well, this was done to prevent confusion. Really! It was done in good faith, so to speak. When the moist-fleshed orange-coloured sweet potato was introduced into the United States in the mid-20th century, producers wanted to distinguish it from the white-fleshed sweet potato that most people were used to. They adopted the word "yam" from"nyami", the African word for the root of the Dioscoreae genus of plants. And this crossed the border to Canada and Canadians also started calling this moist-fleshed oranged-coloured sweet potatoes as yams.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture new label requirement requires labeling the moist-fleshed, orange-colored sweet potatoes that are labeled as "yams" also be accompanied by the label "sweet potato." This confused people all the more. So, the proverbial question - Are these yams or sweet potatoes? - still exists.

So let's compare yams and sweet potatoes, shall we?


Yams By heckyes1777, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes

Yams By heckyes1777, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes

sweet_potato By schuttup, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes

sweet_potato By schuttup, source: Photobucket - Comparison between yams and sweet potatoes


YAMS

Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae).







SWEET POTATOES

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae.





Nutritional Comparison between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Vitamin A

Sweet Potatoes contain more Vitamin A, than yams.

Vitamin A is known to fight cancer, builds our immune system, and is considered critical in maintaining proper eye health.

Sweet potatoes are loaded with massive amounts of vitamin A, a nutrient considered critical in maintaining proper eye health. In fact, one sweet potato contains nearly eight times an adult's daily need of this important vitamin, and, because vitamin A is fat-soluble rather than water-soluble, the body can store it for later use.

Yams contain vitamin A but in significantly less amount than sweet potatoes (yam - 122 IU, sweet potato - 19217 IU).

So, when it comes to vitamin A, sweet potatoes are better than yams.


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Calcium, Iron, Vitamin E, and Protein

Sweet potatoes contain significantly higher amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamin E, and twice as much protein per serving, than yams.

Sweet potatoes also contain several other vitamins and minerals in amounts not found in the yams.

Although yams also contain calcium, iron, vitamin E, protein, several other vitamins and minerals, they are in lesser amounts per serving, than sweet potatoes.

So, when it comes to calcium, iron, vitamin E and protein contents, sweet potatoes are better than yams.


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Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Sweet potatoes contain less omega-3, and more omega-6 fatty acids, than yams.

Omega-3 fatty acids have received significant news coverage in recent times owing to their ability to do everything from prevent heart disease to increase brain stamina.

Omega-6 fatty acids are known to inhibit the body's ability to make use of the omega-3's.

Although both the yam and the sweet potato are low-fat foods, the ratio of essential fatty acids is preferable in the yam.

Sweet potatoes contain less omega-3 fats than yams, and have nearly twice as much omega-6 fats.

So, when it comes to fatty acids, yams are better than sweet potatoes.


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Anti-inflammatory Nutrients

Anti-inflammatory compounds are very important in the health of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis, gout, and other inflammation-related diseases.

Sweet potatoes contain massive amounts of these anti-inflammatory nutrients; yams don't.

Yams, not only lack these anti-inflammatory nutrients, but actually contain a number of compounds that aggravate inflammations.

So, when it comes to anti-inflammatory nutrients, sweet potatoes is the big winner.


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Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and other Minerals

Both yam and sweet potato are both loaded with potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as several so-called trace minerals: selenium, zinc, and copper.

However, although both sweet potato and yam seem to have similar high concentrations of key minerals, sweet potatoes have just a little more.

So, when it comes to minerals, sweet potatoes are a little bit better than yams.


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Which is better for people with Diabetes?

Both the sweet potato and yam offer special health benefits to people with diabetes. Both have very low glycemic indexes: sweet potato weighing in at 17, and yam weighing in at 16. However, sweet potatoes might actually help to fight against diabetes.

Although final reports have not yet been published, preliminary researches show that long-term consumption of sweet potatoes can actually help to fight against diabetes symptoms.


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Nutritional Comparison Table - Yams vs Sweet Potatoes

Source: Nutrient data for this listing was provided by USDA SR-21.
Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet.

 Yam, serving size 100 grams% Daily ValueSweet Potato, serving size 100 grams% Daily Value

Calories

116

6%

90

5%

Total Fat

0g

0%

0g

0%

Saturated Fat

0g

0%

0g

0%

Trans Fat

0g

 

0g

 

Total Omega-3 fatty acids

9.0mg

 

4.0mg

 

Total Omega-6 fatty acids

50.0mg

 

60.0mg

 

Cholesterol

0mg

0%

0mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate

27.5g

9%

20.7g

7%

Dietary Fiber

3.9g

16%

3.3g

13%

Starch

 

 

7.0g

 

Sugars

0.5g

 

6.5g

 

Protein

1.5g

3%

2.0g

4%

Vitamins

 

 

 

 

Vitamin A

122 IU

2%

19217 IU

384%

Vitamin C

12.1mg

20%

19.6mg

33%

Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)

0.3mg

2%

0.7mg

4%

Vitamin K

2.3mcg

3%

2.3mcg

3%

Thiamin

0.1mg

6%

0.1mg

7%

Riboflavin

0.0mg

2%

0.1mg

6%

Niacin

0.6mg

3%

1.5mg

7%

Vitamin B

60.2mg

11%

0.3mg

14%

Folate

16.0mcg

4%

6.0mcg

1%

Vitamin B12

0.0mcg

0%

0.0mcg

0%

Pantothenic Acid

0.3mg

3%

0.9mg

9%

Choline

16.2mg

 

13.1mg

 

Betaine

0.0mg

 

34.6mg

 

Minerals

 

 

 

 

Calcium

14.0mg

1%

38.0mg

4%

Iron

0.5mg

3%

0.7mg

4%

Magnesium

18.0mg

5%

27.0mg

7%

Phosphorus

49.0mg

5%

54.0mg

5%

Potassium

670mg

19%

475mg

14%

Sodium

8.0mg

0%

36.0mg

1%

Zinc

0.2mg

1%

0.3mg

2%

Copper

0.2mg

8%

0.2mg

8%

Manganese

0.4mg

19%

0.5mg

25%

Selenium

0.7mcg

1%

0.2mcg

0%

 

 

 

 

 


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CONCLUSION:

Based on the above nutrition comparison between the yam and the sweet potato, the sweet potato seems a lot more beneficial to our health, than the yam.

Therefore, given the number of amazing health benefits of sweet potatoes, aren't you glad that all these years you thought you were eating "yams," chances are, you were actually eating the mighty sweet potatoes?


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If you like this article, will you please let the writer know? Please click VOTE.UP below, or share this article with your friends. Comments are greatly appreciated.

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Tongan farmer showing off his prize yams, source: Wikipedia

Tongan farmer showing off his prize yams, source: Wikipedia


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Comments

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on March 01, 2011:

Hiya James, thanks for dropping by. You're kidding me, aren't you? lol just checking. Yams are not sweet potatoes but what we know as yams are really sweet potatoes which are better for us. I'm glad you found my yams and sweet potatoes hub informative. You're welcome.. my pleasure.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

James A Watkins from Chicago on February 28, 2011:

This is fascinating. I thought yams and sweet potatoes were the same thing. I thought yams were the finsihed product, with the sweetener and all added in. Thank you for educating me about this.

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 15, 2011:

***Hiya Prasetio, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found my comparison informative. Thanks so much for the vote up. Take care

***Hiya Pixienot, me too, I love sweet potatoes. I'm glad you found my hub informative and thanks so much for the vote up and useful.

***Hiya Billy, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed my yams vs sweet potatoes comparison hub. Oh wow, you had spent much of your life in the South Pacific. How cool! I'm glad you like the Tonga photo I included.

Have a nice day everyone,

Rosie

billyaustindillon on February 13, 2011:

Great hub - Sweet potatoes, Kumera, Taro and yams are so good for you. Loved the photo from Tonga - have spent much of my life in the South Pacific and lots of great Tongan and Samoan friends :)

Pixienot from Clarksville, Indiana on February 06, 2011:

I've loved sweet potatoes all my life. Now I have even more reason to love them.

Thank you for all of this information. Excellent job.

Voted up and useful!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on February 05, 2011:

Another great hub from you. My friend, you always come up with interesting topic. I got new knowledge from you. Thanks for writing this. Very informative. Vote up as always. Take care!

Love and peace,

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 03, 2011:

Hiya Bob, thanks for dropping by and for the touchdown. So cool! I'm glad you also know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. I was born in the Philippines and when my family immigrated to Canada, we just thought that's what Canadians call sweet potatoes--yams, but we knew they were not yams. Once you'd seen and tasted the true yams, you would never ever mistake them for sweet potatoes. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 03, 2011:

Hiya Painter Penfield, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found my hub informative.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 03, 2011:

Hiya Zsuzsy Bee, thanks for dropping by. It's always nice to see you in my hub.. that means I did something good. I'm glad you found this informative because I was so confused when I first came to Canada. I was born in the Philippines and I know the difference in taste and looks. Thanks for the vote up and useful.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 03, 2011:

Hiya Eiddwen, I'm so glad you found this informative. Yes, Dai can eat sweet potatoes and get the full health benefits of this magical root veggie. I also love sweet potatoes, just roasted and sprinkled with a little sugar.. the sugar glazed ones are to die for.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Bob Francis on February 03, 2011:

Rosie, Great, you scored a touchdown on this one. Obviously did some great research. As a kid in Washington State, I only knew about Sweet Potatoes sporting the light skin and yellow flesh. Didn't know about Yams until we found them growing on Okinawa, during WWII. With the burgundy skin and Orange insides. Really enjoyed this Hub, since I'm in the Nutritional Business, and have been aware of the nutritional value of Yams and S.P.'s

Painter Penfield from Tampa Bay area Florida on February 02, 2011:

This was an excellent Hub and I appreciate the information and your citing your sources.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on February 02, 2011:

Rosie, you are absolutely right about most of us not knowing the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. I sure didn't know, I must admit. I thought they were the same thing just different types. It was just recently that I saw the humongous yam that is common in Jamaica at my son's grocery store. Thank you for the 'lesson' I love to learn new things. Voted up and useful too

hope you're well,

regards Zsuzsy

Eiddwen from Wales on February 02, 2011:

Hi Rosie,

Thanks for sharing this great hub. I must admit that I have never tried Yams but I love sweet potatoes.You have worked so hard to write such a detailed hub Rosie. The benefits to diabetics is useful because my partner Dai has stage 2 diabetes.

I'm voting this one up/useful and bookmarking for easy future reference

Take care

Eiddwen

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 01, 2011:

Hiya Dj, thanks for dropping by. No it's never too late to wish someone good stuffs. You too, I wish you all the best this 2011. I'm glad you found my hub informative.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

DjBryle from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =) on February 01, 2011:

Hey, thanks for sharing another informative and useful hub! I know it's a little late, but I want to wish yo and your love ones a Happy and Blessed 2011! God bless! =)

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