Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN

Thanksgiving Countdown: Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: Real HealthyA question about the Thanksgiving menu: Are there any nutritional differences between the regular orange sweet potatoes and the new “white” sweet potatoes? And what’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? 


First off, yams and sweet potatoes are from completely unrelated botanical families — and there are big nutritional differences. Sweet potatoes, from the morning glory family, are notably high in beta-carotene. Yams, which are related to lilies, are low in beta-carotene but higher in vitamin C. That said, virtually anything you see labeled as a yam in a U.S. grocery store is, in fact, a sweet potato. To find a true yam, you’ll probably have to seek out a Caribbean or African market. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference.True yams are much larger than sweet potatoes (some are as large as your arm!) and are often sold cut into chunks.


The white and yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes that have become more popular recently tend to be drier and slightly less sweet than the traditional orange variety. As you might expect, the paler flesh is also not as high in beta-carotene as the more richly-colored traditional variety.


Here are some great healthy recipes featuring sweet potatoes. To add a little novelty and visual interest without sacrificing nutrition, use a mix of sweet potatoes of different hues.




Fat-free Sweet Potato Fries

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: Real Healthy

Here’s a lower-fat version of traditional fries, which you might want to consider for the Thanksgiving feast.




Sweet Potato and Cabbage Slaw

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: Real Healthy

Save time this holiday season by making this healthy salad with raw, and surprisingly delicious, sweet potatoes.




Sweet Potato and Fruit Salad

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: Real Healthy

This is the kind of inspirational dish that will have guests asking: “How in the world did you ever think of this?”




Warm Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: Real Healthy

Salami is the secret spice that takes this salad side dish way over the top on anybody’s holiday table.




Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: Real Healthy

Of course, nobody can resist grilled sweet potatoes, which are terrific in a salad!



Who wants irresistible candied sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving?






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2 Responses to “Thanksgiving Countdown: Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes”

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