Potatoes tend to get a bad rap in the nutrition world since this vegetable is processed in so many different ways (think French fries and potato chips). The white potato is also a high glycemic food. This all adds up to potatoes being put on the "to be avoided list" if you are striving to follow a heart healthy diet.
Let's talk about a potato that is good for you and can be a part of a heart healthy diet - the sweet potato!
Sweet potato versus "white" potato
Serving Size: 1 medium potato with skin
Calories: 128 white potato; 103 sweet potato
Glycemic Index: 85 (high) white potato; 54 (low) sweet potato
The glycemic index is simply a measure of how quickly a food (particularly carbohydrates) raises blood sugar levels.
Fat: 0.2 g white potato; 0.2 g sweet potato
Fat as long as you don't "drown" a potato in high fat toppings, such as butter, sour cream, marshmallows, etc.
Fiber: 3 g white potato; 4 g sweet potato
Soluble Fiber: 1 g white potato; 2 g sweet potato
Potassium: 738.3 mg white potato; 541.5 mg sweet potato
Vitamin C: 13.25 mg white potato; 22.34 mg sweet potato
An antioxidant that promotes cellular health and is also used to form collagen.
Vitamin B6: 0.43 mg white potato; 0.33 mg sweet potato
Essential to many bodily processes, including amino acid and lipid (fat) metabolism.
Beta-carotene: 8.28 mcg white potato; 13120 mcg sweet potato
Beta-carotene is a precursor for Vitamin A.
Lutein + zeaxathin: 41.4 mcg white potato; 0 mcg sweet potato
This nutrient is linked to eye health and prevention of macular degeneration.
I must tell you this is the first time I've actually lined up the nutritional difference between a white potato and a sweet potato. I really expected the sweet potato to far "out shine" a white potato nutritionally, but the difference isn't as great as I expected. However, there is still a benefit to selecting a sweet potato over a white potato. There is a significant difference in the glycemic index, soluble fiber, and beta-carotene content that make a baked potato a better option.
Ways to add sweet potatoes to your diet
Since fall has arrived, I thought this was the perfect time to discuss why and how to add sweet potatoes to your regular diet. I hope you can now see that sweet potatoes have a place in your diet all year long and not just at Thanksgiving dinner.
Sweet potatoes can be prepared many, many different ways. I personally like to use sweet potatoes for making "sweet potato French fries" I bake in my oven with a little olive oil and Mrs. Dash seasoning.