The Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams - OptimizeCEO - OptimizeCEO

Thomas DeLauer

Executive Body & Business Coach

If you’ve been around in the health space for a while, you know that sweet potatoes are all the rage, but I wanted to do this video because I want to talk about what the difference between a sweet potato and a yam is, because we seem to use these terms interchangeably but the simple fact of the matter is they are two entirely different foods. You see, sweet potatoes are actually a root coming usually out of Central America, whereas yams are actually the bulb of a vine coming generally out of Africa or South America, so two entirely different foods altogether, and I wanted to do this video to sort of set it straight.

Now, when it comes to sweet potatoes, you cut them open, they’re bright orange. They’ve got a lot of rich color to them, and that’s great because it means they’re high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, much higher than that of a yam, because when you cut open a yam, you’re going to see that it’s really pretty pale, there’s not a lot of color to it. Generally speaking, when you talk about nutrient density, usually the deeper and richer a color, the more nutrient-dense it is. Now, the other thing we have to look at is sweet potatoes contain a little bit more protein than yams, but where yams really have the sweet potatoes beat is when it comes down to that glycemic index, that glycemic load.

You see, sweet potatoes have a much higher glycemic index level than their counterpart, the yam. The yam is usually sitting around a 40 to 50 glycemic index, whereas a sweet potatoes is sitting closer to a 60 or 65. This means that it’s going to spike your blood sugar more and it’s more apt to rise you up and drop you later in the day than say a yam would. Now, the hard part is, a lot of the times you’re going to have to go to a specialty store to ultimately find a yam. There’s not a whole lot of them out there, and a lot of times you can find them in a can, but they’re loaded with BPAs and there are so many other additives, a lot of times there’s sugar added to it.

You generally want to avoid that, but the big kicker is, the sodium content. Sweet potatoes have four times the sodium content of a yam, so though yams may not have the total nutritional density that you may get out of a sweet potato, you’re definitely going to have less in the way of sodium that may cause hypertension and may cause a little bit of water retention, so what do you do? You mix them both. If you can get your hands on both, you get the qualities of both of them. Cut them up, mash them up together, that way you get the beta-carotene and you get the vitamin A out of the sweet potato, but then you’re also getting the lower sodium values, and of course, getting the lower glycemic load that’s going to round out the sweet potato.

As always, keep it locked in here on my channel for more quick nutrition tips to set you straight. I’ll see you in the next one.