What Is The Difference Between A Yam And A Sweet Potato?


Yam Vs. Sweet Potato: What’s The Difference?
It seems that the words yam and sweet potato have started to be used as interchangeable terms, as one-in-the-same. But are they actually being used correctly? Aren’t yams and sweet potatoes different? Or are they? In this post, we’ll give you the details. Read on to learn more.

So, what’s the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? At most grocery stores, absolutely nothing. It’s all phony. Most yams that you see in American supermarkets are actually orange fleshed sweet potatoes. The reason for the name mix up, according to Sweet Potatoes author, Mary Frances Heck stems from the 1930’s when Louisiana farmers referred to their sweet potato crop as yams in order to differentiate them and the term stuck.

Difference Between A Yam And A Sweet Potato
roasted sweet potatoes

Real yams have similarities in appearance to tree bark. They are brown in color and have a very rough texture. The skin is starchy in flavor. The inside is almost white in color. On the other hand, a sweet potato has a smoother skin that is more red in appearance and sweeter as far as flavor is concerned. The inside of a sweet potato is orange in color.

Which Is Healthier A Sweet Potato Or A Yam?
Both sweet potatoes and yams are health foods to eat. But, the nutrition scale certainly tips to the sweet potato as being the more nutritious choice of the two. It is packed with and has more fiber.

Difference Between A Yam And A Sweet Potato
sweet potato nutrition facts

In terms of flavor, yams tend to be sweeter and moister. Sweet potatoes differ in flavor depending on the variety. The paler, thinner-skinned sweet potatoes are usually dry and crumbly in texture, similar to what you’d expect from a white baked potato. The more common, darker-skinned sweet potatoes have vivid orange flesh and are sweeter in taste and more moist in their texture. These are the sweet potatoes often mistakenly called yams. 

Despite their differences, commonly available varieties of both sweet potatoes and yams are fairly similar in taste and texture, you can generally use them interchangeably in recipes. 

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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