Sweet potatoes vs Yams

by 5 · October 24, 2012 at 12:07 AM

My understanding is that sweet potatoes are the only potatoes acceptable if you're eating paleo. The rule of thumb with potatoes as I understand it is if it's white, no bueno; orange, bueno. The orange ones, I always thought were interchangeably referred to as sweet potatoes or yams. Now you're telling me that sweet potatoes are something different than yams? And that sweet potatoes are white ones? So which ones can I eat??

I'm looking for links to articles about this. I know I've seen them before but at the time I was cutting potatoes out altogether so I didn't even read it. Any help is appreciated.

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4 Replies

26354 · October 23, 2012 5:46 PM

a "Yam" is not related to potatoes or sweet potatoes: Wiki Yam . It is big, and it's skin looks like a tree trunk (think yuca ). It's also much sweeter than sweet potatoes.

"yam" is a colloquial name for sweet potatoes and can be used interchangeably.

Somehow, a long time ago, someone referred to a sweet potato as a yam not recognizing that it is a completely different vegetable, and in the US the name stuck.

IMO, both are fine to consume as are white potatoes and purple potatoes and other tubers.

20762 · October 23, 2012 5:51 PM

Yeah, if you don't know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato then you probably never had a yam. The term yam in the US is not what a yam really is and you have to try hard to actually find one. What you would find at the grocery store are all varieties of sweet potato.

And for those without autoimmune problems, I see no problem with anyone having a reasonable amount of well cooked regular white potato. I use one everyday as part of my carb backloading post workout meal. The anti-nutrients and bad stuff in white potatoes is mostly in the skins (so don't eat them) and what's inside is reasonably well broken down by lots of cooking.

1191 · October 23, 2012 at 11:55 PM

Mark Sisson has a nice summary with pics: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/difference-yams-sweet-potatoes

Typical US grocery store "yams" are botanically sweet potatoes ... the two orange flesh, and yellow flesh are sweet potatoes.

Usually, I have to go to an Asian market to find the others beyond those standard three, but this summer was the first I've been able to get the Japanese Sweet Potato with chestnut flesh in a US co-op. Nice for variety.

570 · October 23, 2012 6:40 PM

Japanese sweet potatoes are purple skin/white flesh. They are awesome cubed or hashed and pan fried in coconut oil!!

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