Sweet potatoes VS potatoes: which one is healthier?
When it comes to white versus sweet potatoes, is one better than the other? According to Dr Hazel Wallace, doctor, nutritionist, and founder of The Food Medic, the two spud varieties should actually be treated equally.
Health benefits of potatoes
“Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, fibre and phytonutrients,” Dr Hazel explains. “Sweet potatoes, however, have an impressive amount of beta carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A, with one standard serving offering the recommended daily intake.
Why eat sweet potatoes instead of regular ones?
Sweet potatoes have a lower glycaemic index than white potatoes. The glycaemic index, or GI, is a ranking of how quickly different carbohydrates make your blood glucose levels rise after eating them – useful information to know if you’re wondering ‘are sweet potatoes carbs?’.
“As a side note,” Dr Hazel says, “the GI has a number of shortcomings, but has been proven to be beneficial in certain populations and circumstances – for example, in athletic performance and in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, the difference between the GI of a white potato and a sweet potato is relatively small, so it’s unlikely to make a massive difference.
“Side by side, they’re both good guys, and can each make up part of a healthy diet – so, why don’t we just have both? Personally, I prefer cooking with, and the taste of, sweet potato (cover your ears, mum!). But, there are certain times when I really just want normal fries or a baked spud!”
When it comes to cooking with sweet potatoes, they can be treated very similarly to regular potatoes. If you’re wondering how long to boil sweet potatoes, they should only take about 20-25 minutes in salted water. Keep in mind that timings will vary based on the size of your potato cubes, as well as the recipe you’re making, whether it’s French fries or mash.
Roasted sweet potatoes are also a wonderful option. You can leave the skin on or peel it off, but be sure to roast them at a super-high temperature, and cut them into about 2.5cm pieces to ensure a faster cooking time. Finally, add some seasoning, or a bold punch of flavour such as harissa or chilli and cinnamon.
Sweet potato pies are a real winner in our books, and this hearty dish makes clever use of bold flavours and hearty textures. The simple sweet potato mash is flavoured with wholegrain mustard and mature Cheddar cheese. This sits atop a rich filling of vegetables, red lentils and cannellini beans for a pie that’s seriously comforting.
Smoked Greek cheese may not be the most obvious of sweet potato pairings, but it works surprisingly well in this twist on a traditional Italian dish. To make the gnocchi, simply peel off the sweet potato skin and cut the flesh into chunks. Boil for 10 minutes, drain and mash, then beat in the eggs with the cheese and flour. The gnocchi is then simply cooked in boiling water for a few minutes. Serve with a butter and sage sauce and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
Crispy roasted sweet potatoes are a wonderful side for family dinners, and this recipe will certainly satisfy. A spin on a traditional Caprese salad, it combines fresh tomatoes and sweet potatoes in layers. It’s seasoned with a homemade paste of sundried tomatoes, garlic, onions and fresh thyme.
When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing like a bowl of creamy soup. This vegan sweet potato soup is incredibly easy to make: you simply sauté onion and garlic with ground cumin, turmeric and coriander. Next, add the sweet potato cubes, stock, coconut milk and tomato purée. Let everything simmer until the veg is cooked, then blitz until smooth and creamy. Top with toasted seeds and plant-based yoghurt.
Ready in less than 30 minutes, this dish is the ideal midweek meal. To make the dahl, simply fry fresh green chilli, green pepper, ginger and spring onions. Add the sweet potato, broccoli and lentils before pouring in stock, soya milk and coconut cream. Serve topped with toasted almonds and rice or naan bread.
While pasta and noodles are typically made of flour, we like the idea of sweet potato pasta! Similar to zoodles, this nutritious recipe uses sweet potato to create a healthier alternative. The curry-style dish is packed with flavour, and uses sweet potato noodles in place of regular ones, making it a great gluten-free alternative.
The fragrant sauce is made by frying ginger, chilli, onion and garlic with curry powder. Next, add coconut milk and stock, and cook until the sauce is reduced. To assemble the curry, combine the sweet potato noodles with fresh veggies, then garnish with Thai basil to serve.
If you prefer chunky vegetable soups to blended ones, then this Thai-inspired dish will hit the spot. To start, simply roast the sweet potatoes while you make a curry sauce. Ginger, shallots, lemongrass, Thai green curry paste and soy sauce are combined with coconut milk for a fragrant, creamy base.
Stir in the roasted sweet potatoes and sugar snap peas, then garnish with fresh Thai basil leaves, sliced red chilli and a squeeze of lime juice.
This Middle Eastern staple has become increasingly popular in the West, and for good reason. Traditionally made with chickpeas or fava beans, this Miguel Barclay recipe uses baked sweet potatoes instead.
They’re wonderfully easy to make, and are perfect served in wraps or pitta bread for a satisfying lunch. We recommend topping with pickled onions, sliced gherkins, fresh tomato and cucumber with a drizzle of tahini.
If you’re wondering ‘can you microwave sweet potatoes?’, then the answer is yes – and it’s the quickest way to cook sweet potato!
These healthy vegan sweet potato brownies use vegan white chocolate to create a riff on a brownie, known as a blondie. The ultimate sweet potato dessert, these morsels can be served as an after-dinner treat, or as a mid-afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
You won’t believe this indulgent sweet potato breakfast recipe is actually healthy! These gluten-free and dairy-free waffles are also a wonderful way to end a meal, topped with seasonal fruit and coconut whipped cream.
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