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Ask Tufts Experts April 2018 Issue

Q. I’ve often heard that sweet potatoes are healthier than white potatoes. Is that true?

A. Kelly Kane, MS, RD, director of nutrition and business operations at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center, responds: “Sweet potatoes have some potential nutritional advantages over ordinary white potatoes. They are much higher in beta-carotene, for example. Sweet potatoes also tend to be higher in fiber than white potatoes, especially if you eat the skin. So sweet potatoes are a great alternative to white potatoes and are a healthier choice.

“Potatoes tend to raise blood sugar more quickly than non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower. For that reason, sweet potatoes should serve as a starch in meals, replacing foods such as rice or pasta. That can be a confusing message for some people because potatoes are a vegetable (which Americans don’t eat enough of), but it should be perceived as the starch in your meal because the body will metabolize it like a starchy grain.”

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