Whether it is Indian cuisine, Italian or America - potatoes are popular in all of them! This delicious tuber is what makes a good dish comforting and filling. However, this goodness comes at a price and potatoes have grown up to a bad reputation of being fattening and unhealthy. On the other side is another vegetable which shares some similarities with the potato but comes along with a bunch of health benefits is the Sweet Potato. It just looks somewhat similar to a regular potato but it is different in texture, flavour and even the botanical categorisation. It is in-fact categorised as one of the superfoods and is known to be really nutritious. But what are the actual differences between the two and can one be substituted for another? Let’s find out.
While Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes might look identical, they are in no way related to each other. Potatoes, also known as Solanum tuberosum, are from the Solanaceae family which shares its roots to tomatoes, peppers, brinjals as well as with deadly nightshade. Plants in this family are know to produce solanine, which is poisonous in nature. It is advised that one must not eat the leaves or stems of any plant in this category or even the potatoes that have gone green. Sweet potatoes on the other hand come from the Convolvulaceae family. Also known as Ipomoea batatas it shares its roots with flowering morning glory vines. So, unlike potatoes, you can also consume the leaves of sweet potatoes, which are known to possess various health benefits.
Now let’s talk numbers. As we know, the potato is infamous for being the fattening vegetable and how sweet potatoes try to be the healthy alternative to this conundrum, but that’s not entirely true. 1 medium baked sweet potato has approximately 100 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrate, 4-5 grams of fiber 7 grams of sugar and 2-3 grams of protein. 1 medium baked potato on the other hand has about 160 calories, 35 grams of carbohydrate, 4-5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar and 5-6 grams of protein.
Each medium sweet potato provides up to four times your daily vitamin A, which comes in handy to help our body build hemoglobin. They’re also rich in Vitamin C and B6 (Something the regular possess too.) Potatoes are rich in potassium, delivering 26 percent of your daily potassium intake. Potatoes are also known to contain resistant starch that our body can't digest. This however comes to our benefit as it keeps us feeling full.
Potatoes on its own aren’t unhealthy. They not only provide the daily necessary nutrition but they also add to the fibre in the body which helps in digestion. Potatoes get unhealthy only when they’re deep fried (like in case of potato wedges or fries) otherwise they’re a fine vegetable to be consumed. Diabetics or people who are at risk of developing diabetes on the other hand should stick to sweet potatoes, due to its low glycemic index. This means they won’t make your blood sugar levels rise as much as white potatoes.
Bottom line is that you must keep both on your plate, however moderate consumption is key. Consuming either sweet or regular potatoes in excess isn’t the best idea. So now you know what to do when you see the delicious alu matar in front of you.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.