I Yam What I Yam: The Sweet Potato Ranks #1 in Nutrition


I know it’s springtime and I should be talking about snap peas and asparagus. The fact is, I still can’t get enough of the sweet potato. But what I’ve really been digging on, so to speak, is the yam. Yes, I discovered this not too long ago when discussing the wonderful qualities of the sweet potato with a friend who asked the question, sweet potato or yam? Lo and behold, I wasn’t sure so the next time I found myself at the market, I had to know. And there it was, my true love is actually the yam.

The thing is, I couldn’t let go of the yam as the sweet potato. I discovered that the sweet potato is considered the number one most nutritional vegetable and congratulated myself on my healthy diet. But there it was again: I have been eating yams not sweet potatoes! What then is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

Yam or Sweet Potato

I did some research and learned a few surprising facts. The sweet potato is apparently far and away the most nutritious of all vegetables and is very low in calories. It is particularly packed with vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, iron, calcium, fiber and beta carotene. Wow.

Sweet Potato

The yam on the other hand (and by the way, the sweet potato and yam are not in the same botanical family) is also very nutritious in its own way. Yams contain more omega-3 fatty acids (good for the heart) and loads of essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium.

But get this. After unearthing a bit more information, I learned that most vegetables labeled “yams” in the United States are actually a variety of sweet potato! True yams are tropical root vegetables with African origins and are generally not sold in North America. It turns out, I have most likely been enjoying sweet potatoes all along!

Images: FotoosVanRobin