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They’re both nutritious, energy-rich tubers and ancient, honored foods whose cultivation stretches back thousands of years.
They both originated in Central and South America and have since spread throughout the world.
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are in the Solanaceae family, related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant along with deadly nightshade. Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are in the Convolvulaceae family with flowering morning glory vines. There are about 4,000 known varieties of potatoes (with about 3,000 in the Andes alone) and about 5,000 varieties of sweet potatoes grown worldwide.
For instance, fast-food restaurants demand a potato type (such as Russets) that has a particular size and shape, cuts well into French fries and holds together when deep-fried, but has a mealy, floury texture on the inside.
Potatoes can also differ in their starch content and type, which affects not only how fast they’re digested, but how they act when cooked. Floury or “mealy” potatoes, which have a fluffy texture and are thus ideal for baking or mashing, are higher in starch, particularly amylose. Similarly, sweet potato types can vary in their texture, cooking properties, moisture, and sugar levels: White, yellow and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are typically the dry type, while the orange-fleshed are moist.
Most people in North America, western Europe, and Australia consume potatoes in some processed form — as French fries, tater tots, or potato chips. And in North America — especially in the Southern US — the phrase “sweet potato” is often followed by “pie”. We typically slather spuds with other stuff, like butter or sour cream — and for our poutine-loving Canadian friends, gravy and cheese curds. In fact, partially due to their carbohydrate content, potatoes and sweet potatoes are highly satiating foods. In fact, in 2010, Chris Voigt, the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, tried a crazy experiment: 2 months of eating only potatoes. At first, he ate only when he felt hungry, and lost 12 lb in 3 weeks. To get enough calories, he then increased his intake to 20 potatoes a day… and he said he’d never felt so stuffed. Despite apparently meeting his calorie needs, Voigt lost 9 more pounds throughout the rest of the experiment. Now of course, we don’t recommend the 20-potato-a-day diet. But Voigt’s results suggest — at least anecdotally — that in fact, starchy tubers are more satisfying and less fat-promoting than low-carb advocates might expect. In part, this is because of the type of carbohydrate that occurs in potatoes and sweet potatoes. Here’s how 100 grams (about a cupped handful) of raw regular potatoes and orange sweet potatoes compare in terms of calories, fiber, and macronutrient content. As you can see above, sweet potatoes are indeed sweeter: They have 7 times the sugar content of regular potatoes.
Most tubers contain some resistant starch — complex starch molecules that we can’t digest, which are then broken down by our gut bacteria in our large intestine.
Potatoes also have a type of resistant starch known as retrograde starch: When you cook and then cool potatoes, the starch molecules shuffle themselves around into a different structure. To digest both potatoes and sweet potatoes, we have to break down and release the starch stored inside their cells.
Because some of that starch is resistant starch, this breakdown takes time and effort, so although both potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in carbs, they don’t act the same way in our body as high-carb processed foods.
Along with being “high carb”, eaters have often worried about the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of potatoes and sweet potatoes. Interestingly, an extract (known as caiapo) from white sweet potatoes is a promising type 2 diabetes treatment, and has been shown to improve many markers of metabolic disease. In fact, locals in Japan commonly ate white sweet potatoes raw as a treatment for anemia, hypertension, and diabetes. Here’s a comparison of the blood glucose response to sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, regular potatoes with caiapo, and plain old glucose.
Average glucose response relative to fasting blood glucose concentrations for foods containing 50 g of carbohydrate.
As you can see, white potatoes do often score higher on glycemic index and glycemic load tests than sweet potatoes.
As you can see in the chart below, sweet potatoes do not automatically have a “better” GI than white potatoes. In the end, if you’re following PN guidelines, you’re probably including lean proteins, healthy fats, other vegetables and fruits, and naturally occurring fiber in your diet. And it also means that most healthy and active people can eat potatoes and sweet potatoes just fine. Thus, even though both potatoes and sweet potatoes are “high in carbs”, not all carbs are created equal. Because of the type and nature of the carbohydrates they contain, both potatoes and sweet potatoes fill us up, give us energy, and leave us satiated for a long time.
As a bonus, sweet potatoes often satisfy sugar cravings, especially if they’re baked and caramelized. Purple-skinned, white-fleshed sweet potatoes in particular (often found in East Asian cuisines) tend to have a “cakey”, caramel taste that makes them perfect for managing the occasional sugar jones.
In general, potatoes and sweet potatoes are roughly similar in their vitamin and mineral content. But when it comes to vitamins and minerals, orange sweet potatoes are vitamin A superstars. Vitamin A occurs in retinol form in animal foods such as eggs, and in rich industrialized countries, many people can afford to eat these foods. However, in poorer countries, vitamin A deficiency is a common problem, causing blindness, other health problems, and over 600,000 deaths per year (mostly of young children or pregnant women). Along with other colorful fruits and vegetables (such as leafy greens and squash), orange sweet potatoes contain high levels of the carotenoid form of vitamin A. Improving access to sweet potatoes and breeding vitamin-A-rich sweet potatoes are thus important nutritional strategies for preventing vitamin A deficiency.


Both potatoes and sweet potatoes contain antioxidants, substances that help control oxidative damage in the body.
The phytochemicals (plant chemicals) in potatoes and sweet potatoes may also keep us healthy by regulating the immune system, fighting viruses and other pathogens, controlling inflammation, and inhibiting tumour growth. In fact, red-fleshed or purple-fleshed potatoes are comparable to Brussels sprouts, blueberries or spinach! Both potatoes and sweet potatoes also contain roughly the same amounts of L-tryptophan, the raw materials for serotonin, another “feel-good” neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm and happy.
Antinutrients are substances that either interfere with nutrient absorption, or act as toxins in the body. Almost all plant foods contain antinutrients as natural defenses against pests, diseases, and environmental threats.
In the end, both potatoes and sweet potatoes — like nearly all other plant foods — have some antinutrients.
Luckily, these occur in very low levels, and most of the time our bodies are perfectly able to process them. Potatoes contain proteins such as patatins and lectins which can be allergenic, particularly if potatoes are eaten raw.
People who have other allergies (particularly latex allergies) are more susceptible to potato allergies, as are children. Potatoes also contain protease inhibitors, which may prompt an allergic reaction or interfere with the digestion of proteins. Potatoes contain salicylates, which can cause problems for those with a salicylate intolerance. Finally, the Solanaceae family of plants (which, again, contains tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant) may be somewhat inflammatory, and can produce reactions in susceptible people. However, most of these are problems only for people with existing allergies, intolerances, and autoimmune disorders. As you can guess by now, several factors determine whether potatoes and sweet potatoes (or, for that matter, most other foods) are more or less “healthy” or appropriate for your goals. Baking, boiling, or roasting potatoes and sweet potatoes is generally healthier than frying them. But if you see broccoli and perhaps a nice grass-fed steak, or wild-caught salmon, or some beans with those tubers… go for it! A little bit of healthy fat with sweet potatoes in particular will help you absorb their vitamin A. When eaten as whole, minimally processed plant foods, both potatoes and sweet potatoes’ carbohydrates are relatively slow-burning. So opt for the Nicoise salad over the instant mashed potato flakes, potato vodka, and sweet potato syrup. When eaten as whole, minimally processed foods, both potatoes and sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense. Both potatoes and sweet potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. If you’re looking for a blast of carotenoid vitamin A, an orange-fleshed sweet potato is a clear winner. Sure, we’ve all indulged in a mashed potato fest at Thanksgiving or sweet potato fries at our local pub. But when we prepare both potatoes and sweet potatoes properly and eat them slowly as part of a normal, PN-friendly diet, we’ll usually find both to be satisfying and filling.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are relatively hardy crops that are easy to grow in most climates, although sweet potatoes prefer things a little warmer. Comparatively, potatoes and sweet potatoes are low-impact crops, requiring minimal water or additional processing. Thus, aside from their nutrient content, potatoes and sweet potatoes promote “health” through food and social relationships. You might have guessed that while we rely a lot on clinical research, we also try to keep a sense of perspective. We try not to get bogged down in the numbers, or look at single nutrients or foods in isolation.
Having a baked potato with a meal or enjoying Grandma’s potato salad at a family reunion along with 7 other dishes is a lot different than being a fasted test subject who is fed exactly 200 grams of baked potato and nothing else. So we work closely with our clients to see how scientific theories and findings manifest in real life — outside the lab. Moreover, people can easily adapt this general recommendation to meet their individual goals.
We recommend that people experiment with various types of potatoes and sweet potatoes as well as cooking methods and cuisines. If you suspect you may have a food intolerance, try keeping a food journal to see if you can associate your symptoms with a particular food. In it you’ll learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies – unique and personal – for you. Hybrid future: the met's andrew bolton talks hands and machines, What fast fashion emphasizes is that fashion is inherently disposable so i think there needs to be some advances in the materials for us to get the point of rethinking fashion.
Unacceptable relationship behaviors, Yeah i don’t know why anyone would sell those designs either but that’s fashion, baby. Re-thinking fast fashion - Youth radio teen reporter bianca brooks takes a tour of a garment factory in dhaka, bangladesh and describes her experience and its impact on her fashion choices. Hybrid future: the met's andrew bolton talks hands and machines - What fast fashion emphasizes is that fashion is inherently disposable so i think there needs to be some advances in the materials for us to get the point of rethinking fashion. Unacceptable relationship behaviors - Yeah i don’t know why anyone would sell those designs either but that’s fashion, baby.
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Rethinking fast fashion after bangladesh - This essay from youth radio is a self-reflection of one teenager’s buying and shopping habits.


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Others that their glycemic index (GI) is too high. As a result, the humble spud has taken a mashing in the recent low-carb years. Not only that, his blood measures (such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose) improved.
Many processed foods are also vitamin A fortified, so few of us in North America suffer vitamin A deficiency. As little as a cupped handful of sweet potato a day can provide all the vitamin A that a small child needs. Potatoes also contain trace amounts of naturally occurring temazepam and diazepam (aka Valium) along with L-tyrosine (a precursor to dopamine, one of our “feel-good” neurotransmitters). And, as mentioned, green potatoes are poisonous (so cut off the green bits or toss green potatoes altogether).
Trypsin inhibitors can interfere with digestion by reducing the action of the digestive enzyme trypsin (which helps us digest proteins). This can be potatoes or sweet potatoes, but also a host of other delicious and nutritious choices: beans and lentils, fruit, whole minimally processed grains, etc. White potatoes may be a problem, if you have an underlying susceptibility (such as an autoimmune disease or other allergies, particularly a latex allergy).
Andean potato cultivars (Solanum tuberosum L.) as a source of antioxidant and mineral micronutrients. Relationship between processing method and the glycemic indices of ten sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivars commonly consumed in Jamaica. Physical barriers to carotenoid bioaccessibility: Ultrastructure survey of chromoplast and cell wall morphology in nine carotenoid-containing fruits and vegetables.
Study on chemical constituents and antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from purple sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.). Distribution of phenolic compounds and antioxidative activities in parts of sweet potato (Ipomoea batata L.) plants and in home processed roots. Cloning and characterization of an Orange gene that increases carotenoid accumulation and salt stress tolerance in transgenic sweetpotato cultures. Red and purple coloured potatoes as a significant antioxidant source in human nutrition – a review.
The introduction of orange-fleshed sweet potato in Mozambican diets: A marginal change to make a major difference.
A food-based approach introducing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes increased vitamin A intake and serum retinol concentrations in young children in rural Mozambique. Improved metabolic control by Ipomoea batatas (Caiapo) is associated with increased adiponectin and decreased fibrinogen levels in type 2 diabetic subjects.
Efficacy of Ipomoea batatas (Caiapo) on diabetes control in Type 2 diabetic subjects treated with diet. Some Canadian-grown potato cultivars contribute to a substantial content of essential dietary minerals.
Comparison of the nutrient composition of four sweet potato varieties cultivated in Rwanda.
Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceania obscured by modern plant movements and recombination.
Multiple biological functions of sporamin related to stress tolerance in sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas Lam).
Antioxidant activities, phenolic and b-carotene contents of sweet potato genotypes with varying ?esh colours. Relationship among the carotenoid content, dry matter content and sensory attributes of sweet potato. Sweet potato and cassava can modify cholesterol profile in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol levels. Microstructure and in vitro beta carotene bioaccessibility of heat processed orange fleshed sweet potato. The 38-year-old Sherlock actor has been honoured with a wax figure at the London attraction which has taken months of work.
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So don’t eat the leaves or stems of any plant in this group, or potatoes that have gone green.
Most common potato intolerance symptoms reported are eczema, stomach upset, hives and swelling, or — in rare situations — anaphylaxis. The Resistant Starch Report: An Australian update on health benefits, measurement and dietary intakes. In Diversifying Food and Diets: Using Agricultural Biodiversity to Improve Nutrition and Health. Cutting up potatoes and sweet potatoes helps preserve their starchiness, while cooking them whole results in more sugariness.



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