Questions About Sweet Potatoes

February 23, 2021
| Created by Melanie Taylor, MS, RDN, CD

Have you ever noticed Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) really like sweet potatoes? Plus, did you know February 22, 2021, is National Cook a Sweet Potato Day? In celebration here are some answers to your burning sweet potato questions:

Q: What the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

A: Sweet potatoes come in all sorts of colors and varieties, so the orange “yams” you find in the grocery store are actually sweet potatoes too, but are labeled as yams to avoid confusion, which just seems confusing. 

Q: Are sweet potatoes or russet potatoes better?

A: Sweet potatoes and russet potatoes are fairly equal in calories and total carbohydrates. Each variety of potato offers a different nutrient profile. Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber and Vitamin A; russet potatoes have more potassium and Omega-3s. Both vegetables are RDN-approved!

Q: What do I do with sweet potatoes other than top them with butter and brown sugar?

A: Their natural sweetness can be enhanced with just about any seasoning.  Try them with yogurt and granola for a sweet breakfast, or diced in a savory chili like this one.

Q: What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes? 

A: There are endless ways to cook sweet potatoes; diced in soups and stews; pureed like mashed potatoes; sliced in au gratin; and you can’t go wrong with “baked.” Clean or scrub the outside skin. Make holes in the sweet potato with a fork and bake in the oven 45-50 minutes, or microwave 5-6 minutes until tender.

For more of our favorite dietitian’s recipes, check these out:

This beautiful Tian from Chef Lesli

A sweet potato crust for a delicious quiche

Pan seared scallops with fennel and mashed sweet potatoes

A healthier version of shepherd’s pie