I Yam What I Yam, Which Is Not A Sweet Potato

Yam vs Sweet Potato

There’s no, “You say poh-taay-toe and I say poh-taaah-toe,” about the yam versus sweet potato relationship. Because yams and sweet potatoes aren’t two different terms for the same thing, they’re two different vegetables.

Although they look and taste maybe somewhat kinda similar, the fact is, they’re not even closely related.

The Truth You’ve Been Waiting For

Yes, it’s true that yams and sweet potatoes are two totally different things. BUT, it’s also true that in the U.S., most grocery stores sell the dark orange variety of sweet potatoes as “yams.” Or, even more confusing, “sweet potato yams.” They do this not to fool you, but to help distinguish the darker orange variety of sweet potato from those lighter in color.

Read below to tell the difference between yams and sweet potatoes the next time you’re shopping in your local grocery store.

The Yam

A member of the Dioscoreae family, there are over 200 varieties of yams. Depending on the variety, the flesh may be some shade of white, ivory, yellow or purple. The skin is thick, rough and scaley and may be white, pink or brownish-black in color.

Yams taste pretty earthy, with minimal or no sweetness. The texture is starchy and slippery when raw. Cooked, they can be creamy or firm, depending upon the variety.

The Sweet Potato

A member of the Convolvulaceae family, we recently read there are more than six thousand varieties of sweet potatoes, when you include wild, farmer-grown and breeding lines. Depending on the variety, the flesh can be almost any shade of white, orange, yellow-orange, purple or red. The skin is usually thinner than a real “yam,” and may be some shade of creamy white, yellow-orange, tan, reddish-purple or red.

Depending on the color of the flesh, sweet potatoes range from mild to rich, the darker the flesh, the more intense the flavor. The darker varieties also have a denser, creamier texture when cooked.

Below are the nutritional values for 1 cup of raw, unprepared sweet potatoes and yams.

  Yam Sweet Potato
Calories 117 114
Total Fat 0 0
Cholesterol 0 0
Sodium 13mg 73mg
Total Carbohydrate 42g 27g
Dietary Fiber 6g 4g
Sugars 1g 6g
Protein 2g 2g
Summary Yams are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of fiber, potassium and manganese and a very good source of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese and a very good source of Vitamin A.

If you’re shopping for sweet potatoes, the easiest way to find them is to look for Sweet PotatOHs. You’ll find them in the potato section in produce, and with a green and purple label, you can’t miss them!

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