Food | Are sweet potatoes really that better for you?

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We are a nation of spud lovers, but our tastes are changing. Today, it is all about sweet potatoes and their perceived better nutritional benefit. But are they truly better?

There was much excitement recently when an Irish company, Strong Roots, launched a new sweet potato oven chip pack. Sounds strange? Well, no. Considering the hype and love for sweet potato by many in recent years, this level of excitement was natural.

From home chefs to five-star eateries, the sweet potato is gracing every table and indeed, every meal.

But are they really that better for you?

In terms of fibre, the two products are more or less equal. However, as the name implies, the sweet variety has considerably more sugar. A medium sized sweet potato has 13 grams of sugar compared to just two in a regular potato. 

Studies have also shown that carbohydrates and protein are more plentiful in the regular potato, boasting 37 grams of carbs and five grams of protein versus 24 grams and two grams in the sweet variety.

There has been some confusion over the number of calories in each. According to LiveStrong’s count, a 100 gram serving of baked white potato (with skin) contains 93 calories, while the same sized serving of a baked sweet potato (with skin) contains 90. Others have argued that the difference is 170 calories for a medium and 105 in a medium sweet.

Both regular and sweet potatoes offer equal amounts of calcium and vitamin C. However, a sweet potato offers a whopping 438 percent of vitamin A while you get none of this vitamin in the regular type.

In terms of iron, a regular potato provides 10 per cent of your daily need, while a sweet potato only offers four per cent.

So, which is one is better for you? Both foods, when eaten in their entirety and not spoiled by unhealthy toppings, are essentially good for you. If you need more vitamin A, the sweet potato is obviously better, but the choice is often primarily down to personal dietary needs and taste.