Purple Sweet Potato vs Sweet Potato: What’s The Difference?


The traditional sweet potato and the purple sweet potato are two of the most common. Having many similarities between the two, many people wonder about their differences. Let’s answer, what is the difference between sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes?  

Sweet potatoes have a bronze outer skin with an orange flesh inside. Purple sweet potatoes have a beige outer skin with a purple flesh inside. Sweet potatoes are a little sweeter than purple sweet potatoes which have a milder flavor. Purple sweet potatoes are denser requiring longer cooking times.

Other differences between sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes:

  • Purple sweet potatoes cost more than sweet potatoes.
  • Sweet potatoes are easier to find in supermarkets than purple sweet potatoes.
  • Purple sweet potatoes contain more of the antioxidant anthocyanin. Sweet potatoes contain more beta-carotene than purple sweet potatoes.

This article will compare both sweet potatoes nutrients, tastes, costs and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll examine their benefits and if one is easier to store than the other.

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Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Purple Sweet Potato and Sweet Potato Differences

What Is a Sweet Potato?

Most people may think sweet potatoes are a member of the potato family 1. However, it is not related to the potato plant Solanum tuberosum as their composition of simple sugars and complex starches is pretty different.

Therefore, what is a sweet potato? 

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that have the scientific name Ipomoea batatas and are part of the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. They are native to Polynesia and the Central and South America region, domesticated more than 5,000 years ago, and grown worldwide today.  Interestingly, sweet potatoes can come in various varieties, each having different flavors, sizes, shapes, textures, and firmness. You can purchase sweet potatoes all year round, and the most common types in the U.S. are the: 

  • Beauregard 
  • Jewel  
  • Garnet 

These three sweet potatoes are most common and usually have orange, rose, or reddish-colored skin. Although they are sometimes mistaken for yams, they are more firm on the inside and have a slightly sweet taste. 

What Are Purple Sweet Potatoes?

Like other sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes are root vegetables and are members of the Ipomoea genus. Why are purple sweet potatoes purple?

The purple color is not manufactured but an entirely natural process. It comes from an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is colored water-soluble pigments that can give plants, fruits, and other vegetables their rich coloring. 

There are two main common variations of purple sweet potato. These include: 

  • Okinawa Sweet Potatoes: Okinawa’s originated in Central and South America but are locally grown in Hawaii. They have white skin with deep purple flesh. Although they have a bluish-purple color, their texture is dry and starchy with a mildly sweet and bitter aftertaste. 
  • Stokes Sweet Potatoes: Stokes was initially native to North Carolina but is grown commercially in Central California. Stokes has purple skin and flesh, a moist and starchy texture and a mildly sweet floral taste. Available year-round, these sweet potatoes have purple-tinted skin with a deep purple flesh that intensifies when cooked. 

Purple Sweet Potatoes can be easily made and still retain their rich purple color even when cooked. 

Purple Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: Nutrient Differences

All sweet potatoes have similar vitamin and mineral content making them great allies in supporting your overall health. The following are the amounts and nutrients of sweet potatoes:

Nutrient Sweet Potato (1 Cup, raw)
Calories 114
Fat 0.1g
Protein 2.1g
Carbohydrates 26.8g
Fiber 4.0g
Sugar 5.6g
Vitamin A 18,866 IU
Vitamin C 3.2mg
Vitamin B6 0.3mg
Magnesium 33.2mg
Potassium 448mg
Copper 0.2mg
Manganese 0.3mg
Iron 0.8mg
Vitamin E 0.3mg
Calcium 39.9mg

Nutrient Resources 2 3

Sweet potatoes include a high level of: 

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Fiber

Let’s now talk about a couple of nutrient differences between a regular sweet potato and a purple sweet potato.

Sweet Potato Phytonutrient Profile

Phytonutrients protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats and can also help prevent disease and keep your body working correctly. 

Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are high in beta-carotene, which gives that yellow, orange, and red coloring to fruits, plants and vegetables. Beta Carotene also helps promote vitamin A in the body as well as promotes eye health. 

Purple Sweet Potato Phytonutrient Profile

On the other hand, purple sweet potatoes are richer in anthocyanins. As mentioned earlier, anthocyanins are the pigments that give red, purple, and blue fruits, plants and vegetables their rich coloring and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. 

When comparing both sweet potatoes, it’s difficult to say if one is healthier than the other. They both provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

For this reason many people ask, are purple sweet potatoes healthier then regular sweet potatoes?

Purple sweet potatoes are healthier due to their highest overall level of phenolics, antioxidants and soluble dietary fiber. Purple sweet potatoes have a higher level of anthocyanin antioxidants than orange or white flesh sweet potatoes.

Find out how purple sweet potatoes and purple yams compared to each other in my article, Purple Sweet Potato vs Purple Yam: What’s The Difference?

Purple Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes Taste and Texture

Due to their different color flesh, one would think they taste different. Let’s examine the different taste and texture of a purple sweet potato and sweet potato.

Purple sweet potatoes have a rich taste, almost wine-like flavor with a creamy texture. Sweet potatoes are sweeter and moister than the drier purple sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes are starchier than sweet potatoes.

What does a sweet potato taste like? Sweet potatoes hold their sweetness consistently. There’s a subtle starchy undertone with rich sweet flavor. Sweet potatoes have a stringy, soft, crumbly texture.

What does purple sweet potatoes taste like? Purple sweet potatoes have a rich taste with a wine-like flavor. The texture is dry but slightly creamy.

Find out how white sweet potatoes compared to sweet potatoes in my article, White Sweet Potato vs. Sweet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Can You Substitute Purple Sweet Potatoes for Sweet Potatoes?

Purple sweet potatoes and sweet potatoes can substitute for each other for almost any dish. They can both be baked, roasted, mashed or grilled. Purple sweet potatoes are drier, therefore, they will need longer cooking times than sweet potatoes.

There are a few things you should consider before substituting these vegetables with each other.

  • Increased cooking times is recommended for purple sweet potatoes. This is due to their drier and denser flesh. The longer cooking time will make it moister.
  • If you’re substituting sweet for purple sweet potato, remember to shorten the cooking time.
  • The quantity of potato called for doesn’t change when substituting one potato for the other.
  • Purple sweet potatoes may be more difficult to find in traditional supermarkets. Don’t confuse them for an Ube which is actually a yam.
  • It may be harder to find recipes calling for purple sweet potatoes.

If you are making sweet potato pie, the purple sweet potatoes may lack the sweetness sweet potatoes have. Therefore, you may be changing a recipe slightly to make the purple sweet potato dish a bit sweeter.

For sweet potato fries, purple sweet potatoes have the advantage. They are versatile, and you have more control of the resulting flavor because their overall taste is subtle compared to a regular sweet potato.

Purple Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes Costs

With the rising prices of just about everything lately, the cost of something certainly matters to most people. The price may sway your decision about which sweet potato to use. Therefore, which costs more, purple sweet potatoes or sweet potatoes?

Purple sweet potatoes cost $2 more per pound than sweet potatoes. The average price for sweet potatoes is $0.99 per pound. The average price for purple sweet potatoes is $2.99 per pound.

I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of sweet potatoes:

  • Sweet potatoes
    • $0.99 per pound
  • Purple sweet potatoes
    • $2.99 per pound

I also checked Walmart and only found regular sweet potato prices:

  • Sweet potatoes
    • $0.98 per pound

I then checked a specialty store (Friedas) and found the following sweet potato prices:

  • Purple sweet potatoes
    • $4.00 per pound

Purple sweet potatoes are easy to find on Amazon. Check their variety and current price, purple sweet potatoes.

Availability Year Round

Sweet potatoes are generally available year-round, but purple sweet potatoes like the Okinawans are usually available between late summer through late spring. In contrast, the Stokes variety is open from September through April.

Find out how Russet compared to Yukon Gold Potatoes in my latest article, Yukon Gold Potato vs Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Purple Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: How To Store

Purple and regular sweet potatoes are both stored in a cool, dry, ventilated container. They should be kept out of the refrigerator in a dark place away from heat. A humid basement or root cellar is the best area.

Keeping sweet potatoes in the refrigerator produces a hard center and an unpleasant taste. Sweet potatoes can store for about two weeks in the proper conditions 4.

When picking purple sweet potatoes or regular, always choose large ones which feel firm. If you have a local farm or roadside stand close by, buy your sweet potatoes there.

The ones in the supermarket probably have been stored for months, while farm-fresh sweet potatoes may only be a week old.

How long do purple sweet potatoes last? Purple sweet potatoes store bought can last for about two weeks if properly stored. Keeping them in a dark, cool place away from heat will make them last longer. Store purple sweet potatoes anywhere from 55°F to 60°F and keep them out of the refrigerator.

Can purple sweet potatoes and sweet potatoes be stored together? White sweet potatoes and sweet potatoes can be stored together in a cool, dark place at a temperature between 55°F and 60°F. Keep them in a ventilated container like a potato keeper or burlap bag.

Find out if Russet potatoes and Idaho potatoes are the same in my article, Idaho vs Russet Potatoes – Are They The Same? Let’s Compare

Purple Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes Health Benefits

Sweet Potatoes Can Affect Your Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how various foods can increase or decrease your blood sugar level. When boiled, purple sweet potatoes have a lower GI than regular sweet potatoes.

So if you’re looking to keep your diet low in carbs, you might want to look for other alternatives that are lower on the glycemic index. Although the carbs in sweet potatoes are complex and raises blood sugar more slowly.

Sweet potatoes, purple or regular, have a moderate glycemic index and is considered safe for people with diabetes.

If you’re interested about how sweet potatoes held up against pumpkin for health and nutrition, check out my article, Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato: A Complete Comparison.

Eye Health

When it comes to sweet potatoes, there are two nutrients the body converts into vitamin A. Most notably, Beta Carotene, which is easily absorbed by the body. According to scientific studies, vitamin A helps the eyes when it comes to dim light vision and dry eyes 5.

Consuming one regular sweet potato provides 730% of the daily value for vitamin A. The Anthocyanins found in sweet potatoes have been found in studies to protect eye cells from damage improving overall eye health 6.

The Immune System

According to Harvard University, vitamin A is a great source to stimulate healthy white blood cells 7. These cells have the responsibility of keeping the immune system as healthy as possible to fight viruses and illnesses effectively.

Other nutrients like the antioxidant anthocyanin and vitamin C possess anti-inflammatory properties protecting against disease and illness.

Gut Health and Digestion

Purple sweet potatoes and sweet potatoes both contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber remains in the digestive tract and provides gut related health benefits. Fiber rich diets have been linked to regular bowel movements and a lower risk of colon cancer 8.

The Verdict

So which sweet potato would you choose the next time you walk down the produce aisle at the grocery store? Honestly, both are comparable in nutrition, with purple sweet potatoes higher in anthocyanin. It comes down to your personal preference for taste and how you prefer to use them in your following recipe.

Find out how Russet potatoes compared to red potatoes in my article, Red Potatoes vs Russet Potatoes: The Differences.

Additional Resources 9 10 11 12 13 14

Read Next – More Food vs Food Articles!

Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: A Comparison  

Are Sweet Potatoes Healthier Than Regular Potatoes?

Sweet Potato vs. Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Red Potatoes vs Yukon Gold Potatoes: What’s The Difference?

Sweet Potato vs Yam Nutrition and Benefit Differences

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Harvard T.H. Chan: Sweet Potatoes[]
  2. NutritionData: Sweet potato, raw[]
  3. USDA: Sweet potato, raw, unprepared[]
  4. North Carolina Sweet Potatoes: How To Store Sweetpotatoes[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutrients for the aging eye[]
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Review on nutritional composition of orange-fleshed sweet potato and its role in management of vitamin A deficiency[]
  7. Harvard Health: Vitamin A[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[]
  9. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: Sweet Potatoes[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Research Advances of Purple Sweet Potato Anthocyanins: Extraction, Identification, Stability, Bioactivity, Application, and Biotransformation[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Role of Anthocyanin-enriched Purple-fleshed Sweet Potato P40 in Colorectal Cancer Prevention[]
  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Purple Sweet Potatoes from East Java of Indonesia Revealed the Macronutrient, Anthocyanin Compound and Antidepressant Activity Candidate[]
  13. USDA: Sweet Potatoes & Yams[]
  14. USDA: The Makings of a Good Sweet Potato[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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