Like many foods, it seems potatoes have fallen into the diet trend trap. While you may be shunning white potatoes in favor of sweet potatoes, both provide essential nutrients your body needs for good health. Comparing the nutrient composition of the two can help you determine how they fit into your meal plan.
When comparing nutrition information for food items, it is important to use the same serving size to help judge the similarities. A 100 g serving, or about 3.3 oz., is a typical standard serving size used to compare foods. This is important because, according to the USDA Nutrient Database a medium-sized sweet potato weighs 114 g, while a medium-sized white potato measures 173 g, which can significantly skew the nutrient composition when comparing the two items.
The calorie content of the white potato and the sweet potato are similar. A 100 g serving of a baked white potato with the skin contains 93 calories, while the same sized serving of a baked sweet potato with the skin contains 90 calories.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
As a starchy food, most of the calories in the two potatoes comes from the carbohydrate content. A 100 g serving of the white potato contains 21 g of carbohydrates and 2.2 g of fiber, and the sweet potato has 21 g of carbohydrates and 3.3 g of fiber. While the sweet potato contains more fiber, the difference is only slight. Fiber is an essential nutrient lacking in the American diet, notes the American Dietetic Association. Fiber improves bowel movements, aids in hunger control and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Adult women need between 25 g of fiber a day, and adult men need 30 g a day.
Protein and Fat
Both potatoes are virtually fat-free, with similar protein contents. A 100 g serving of white potato contains 2.5 g of protein and 0.1 g of fat, and the sweet potato 2 g of protein and 0.2 g of fat. A healthy diet should get 10 to 35 percent of its calories from protein, and 20 to 35 percent of its calories from fat.
The vitamin content does vary more significantly between the two potatoes. A 100 g serving of white potato contains 9.6 mg of vitamin C, 28 mcg of folate and 1 IU of vitamin A, while sweet potato has 20 mg of vitamin C, 6 mcg of folate and 19,218 IU of vitamin A. The sweet potato is higher in vitamin C and significantly higher in vitamin A. One serving of sweet potato provides 384 percent of your daily value for vitamin A. Vitamin A supports growth and development, eye health and the immune system.
When it comes to minerals, the white potato is a better source of iron and potassium than the sweet potato. A 100 g serving of the white potato contains 1.1 mg of iron and 535 mg of potassium, and the sweet potato 0.7 mg of iron and 435 mg of potassium. Iron -deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutritional disorders in the world, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. A 100 g serving of white potato meets 6 percent of your daily value for iron.
- USDA: Nutrient Database: Potato, Baked, Flesh and Skin, Without Salt
- USDA: Nutrient Database: Sweet Potato, Cooked, Baked in Skin, Without Salt
- International Year of the Potato 2008: The Plant
- American Dietetic Association; Health Implications of Dietary Fiber; October 2008
- McKinley Health Center; Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat; March 2008
- Office of Dietary Supplements; Vitamin A; April 2006