What’s the difference between potato and sweet potato?

potato Feb 06, 2021

Honestly, there is not a big difference between potato and sweet potato.

However, white potatoes have a bad rep, all thanks to sneaky marketing. When we analyse the science between the potato varieties, we don’t see significant differences in terms of the macronutrients - It’s more about the micronutrients. Today, we will explore the similarities and differences between the potatoes and strategies to optimise our health.


Potato vs sweet potato

There is not a lot separating the potatoes in terms of nutrition. The energy density, carbohydrate, protein and fat content is virtually the same. The differences exist between the micronutrient makeup and the taste.  


  • The potatoes virtually provide the same amount of kJ per 100g (sweet potatoes are 20kJ higher, so not a massive difference).
  • White potatoes have slightly less carbohydrate per 100g. However, the difference is not significant.
  • Protein is the same between the potato varieties.



  • Potato is:
    • Predominantly resistant starch, which has many protective health benefits. These benefits include lowering blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity and aiding digestion.
    • Generally higher in potassium.

  • Sweet potato is:
    • A powerhouse of vitamin A. If you were to eat 100g of sweet potato, you would be doubling your vitamin A requirement for the day. Vitamin A is excellent for eye health and the immune system.
    • Slightly higher in fibre.
    • Sweeter in taste.


How should we cook potato to maximise nutritional quality? 

The preferred cooking method is steaming or boiling. One healthy idea includes steaming the potato and then garnishing it with a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Another quick tip is steaming the potato and letting it cool. This unlocks the resistant starch, which is very beneficial for our gut bacteria. This idea is excellent for a potato salad, provided it’s not coated in mayo. If you bake the potato, it’s not a major stress. We want to avoid adding too much oil and increasing the energy density of the potato.  


What is a serve of potato? 

In terms of size, we want to aim for half a fist. This is equivalent to 25% of a plate made up of potato. Also, It is important to note that those who have diabetes can still enjoy potato in regulated amounts.  


The bottom line is, we don’t need to be scared of potatoes as they’re a staple part of many people’s diets. We need to be mindful about how we cook them and the quantity of potato we consume. If you’d like a nutritional analysis done on your potato intake, or are seeking suggestions about optimal cooking methods, book a consult at CQ Nutrition.


Here is a link to book in with one of our expert dietitians at any of our locations https://www.cqnutrition.com.au/booking/ 

Want an online consultation? Book in on my calendar and in comments write 'online' https://bit.ly/AnnieROK 

Written by Annabel Johnston, BAppSc&MDietPrac & GCertDiabSt


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