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Sweet potatoes vs Yams

by (5)
Updated about 2 hours ago
Created October 23, 2012 at 5:33 PM

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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26182 · October 24, 2012 at 12:07 AM

link is fixed! Thanks

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1211 · October 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM

The link appears to be broken and missing closing parenthesis. I'd like to taste a yam. The link indicates it's dry and starchy, compared to moist, sweet sweet potato.

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26182 · October 23, 2012 at 9:10 PM

okinawan sweet potatoes are white skin, purple on inside -- http://www.downtoearth.org/health/nutrition/okinawan-sweet-potato-purple-powerhouse-nutrition

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26182 · October 23, 2012 at 9:09 PM

White on the outside, purple on the inside = Okinawan Sweet Potato -- If you see these, get them, they are great and beautiful to plate. Nutritionally similar to sweet potatoes. Purple on outside, white on inside = purple vikings, nutritionally similar to white potatoes. Purple on outside, purple on inside -- Purple Peruvian, unsure of nutritional content. Note these are the most common in the NE USA. There are 100s of types of potatoes out there.

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3661 · October 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM

If you're in the US, you will find sweet potatoes in almost all cases. Real yams are darned uncommon here. What's called a yam here is most likely a sweet potato.

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2913 · October 23, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I thought it was the opposite - most of the "sweet potatoes" carried at the stores are yams and not sweet potatoes. My MIL eats actual sweet potatoes which are kind of purple on the outside and white on the inside. Or are those actually yams? I'm so confused! Not that I care what the name of what I'm eating is, but you've made me second guess myself!

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4 Answers

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26182 · October 23, 2012 at 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.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7
26182 · October 24, 2012 at 12:07 AM

link is fixed! Thanks

Cbdc8318738324492f2d5918868ce4c9
1211 · October 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM

The link appears to be broken and missing closing parenthesis. I'd like to taste a yam. The link indicates it's dry and starchy, compared to moist, sweet sweet potato.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73
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20908 · October 23, 2012 at 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.

45ace03a0eff1219943d746cfb1c4197
3661 · October 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM

If you're in the US, you will find sweet potatoes in almost all cases. Real yams are darned uncommon here. What's called a yam here is most likely a sweet potato.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6
2913 · October 23, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I thought it was the opposite - most of the "sweet potatoes" carried at the stores are yams and not sweet potatoes. My MIL eats actual sweet potatoes which are kind of purple on the outside and white on the inside. Or are those actually yams? I'm so confused! Not that I care what the name of what I'm eating is, but you've made me second guess myself!

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7
26182 · October 23, 2012 at 9:09 PM

White on the outside, purple on the inside = Okinawan Sweet Potato -- If you see these, get them, they are great and beautiful to plate. Nutritionally similar to sweet potatoes. Purple on outside, white on inside = purple vikings, nutritionally similar to white potatoes. Purple on outside, purple on inside -- Purple Peruvian, unsure of nutritional content. Note these are the most common in the NE USA. There are 100s of types of potatoes out there.

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1211 · 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.

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604 · October 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM

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

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7
26182 · October 23, 2012 at 9:10 PM

okinawan sweet potatoes are white skin, purple on inside -- http://www.downtoearth.org/health/nutrition/okinawan-sweet-potato-purple-powerhouse-nutrition

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