Russet potatoes and sweet potatoes are popular and loved throughout the United States. Many people wonder about their differences, if any. Therefore, what is the difference between sweet potatoes and russet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes have an orange flesh, taste sweeter and contains more vitamins A and C than russet potatoes. Russet potatoes have a white flesh, are less sweet and contain more potassium than sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are used more for sweeter dishes and russet for french fries, mashed potatoes and tater tots.
This article will compare both 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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Sweet Potato vs Russet Potato Nutritional Content
You may have heard sweet potatoes are higher in certain nutrients, or russet potatoes are higher in others. This is true to a certain extent. There’s some similarities and drastic differences. Therefore, let’s take a look at the nutrients contained in each potato.
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in sweet potatoes and russet potatoes:
|Sweet Potato Raw (100 g)||Russet Potato Raw (100 g)|
|Protein||1.57 g||2.14 g|
|Carbohydrates||17.5 g||18.1 g|
|Fiber||3.0 g||1.3 g|
|Fat||0.05 g||0.08 g|
|Sugar||4.18 g||0.62 g|
|Vitamin A||14,200 IU||1 IU|
|Beta-carotene||8,510 mcg||0 mcg|
|Vitamin C||19.2 mg||5.7 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.20 mg||0.34 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||11 mcg||14 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.07 mg||0.08 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.06 mg||0.03 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.55 mg||1.04 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.8 mg||0.3 mg|
|Magnesium||25 mg||23 mg|
|Phosphorous||47 mg||55 mg|
|Potassium||337 mg||417 mg|
|Iron||0.61 mg||0.86 mg|
|Copper||0.15 mg||0.10 mg|
|Calcium||30 mg||13 mg|
|Zinc||0.3 mg||0.3 mg|
|Manganese||0.25 mg||0.15 mg|
Both potatoes contain a wide variety of nutrients. At first it may be difficult to figure out which one is better than the other. Therefore, let’s answer, which is better sweet potatoes or russet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are better than russet potatoes due to their higher percentage of antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index which helps keep blood sugar levels lower.
What gives sweet potatoes the slight edge over russet potatoes is the antioxidants, beta-carotene and Vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes provide approximately 438% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and over three times the number of vitamin C than russet potatoes.
Russet potatoes are almost void of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also contain more fiber than russet.
Most people choose sweet potatoes for the vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. At the same time, russet potatoes are no slouch either.
Are Russet Potatoes Healthy?
Russet potatoes are healthy because they provide more potassium, iron, phosphorus, B6, niacin, folate and thiamin than sweet potatoes.
While the larger percentage of these nutrients are generally small, it shows russet potatoes aren’t all that different from sweet potatoes except for the vitamin A.
While sweet potatoes do have a nutritional edge over russet potatoes, it’s not significant enough to warrant ditching russet potatoes for good.
If you’re watching your carb intake, either potato isn’t extremely high. Potatoes are in the middle of the glycemic index and don’t provide huge sugar spikes like unhealthy carbs do.
If you want to try a low-carb diet, you may want to look for alternatives to potatoes altogether.
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Sweet Potatoes and Russet Potatoes Taste and Texture
Due to sweet potatoes orange flesh and the white flesh of russet, one would think they don’t taste the same. Let’s examine the taste and texture of a sweet potato and russet potato.
Sweet potatoes taste sweeter and nuttier than russet potatoes. Russet potatoes have a mild, neutral taste. Russet potatoes have a thicker skin with a creamy flesh compared to sweet potatoes stringy, crumbly texture.
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 russet potatoes taste like? Russet potatoes have a neutral, mild flavor which is unsweet. There’s a starchy undertone and the flesh is creamy. If you eat the skin, russet’s skin is thicker than other potatoes.
Can You Substitute Sweet Potatoes for Russet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes can substitute for russet potatoes in potato recipe dishes. When substituting with sweet potatoes, the cooking time will be increased due to their denser flesh which takes longer to cook. Russet and sweet potatoes can both be baked, mashed, roasted or grilled.
There are a few things you should consider before substituting these vegetables with each other.
- Increased cooking times is recommended for sweet potatoes. This is due to their denser flesh. The longer cooking time will make it moister.
- If you’re substituting russet for sweet potatoes, remember shortening the cooking time.
- The quantity of potato called for doesn’t change when substituting one potato for the other.
Russet potatoes can substitute for sweet potatoes although they are not as sweet. If a recipe requires a sweet taste, the recipe may need to be modified to add other ingredients which will increase the sweetness.
Why You Might Want Sweet Potatoes
Why might you want sweet potatoes? If you live in the United States, sweet potato casseroles are a prominent dish on the table for a Thanksgiving feast. Or, if you live in the South, sweet potatoes are used for just about everything.
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
Considering sweet potatoes are somewhat higher in fiber and vitamin A than russet potatoes, you might want to consider using them in place of russet potatoes. Many people use them for sweet potato fries, casseroles, or even just boiled and mashed.
Why You Might Want Russet Potatoes
Fluffy mashed potatoes only come from white russet potatoes. If you’re like most people on Thanksgiving, you’ll want both types of potatoes.
Russet potatoes go with almost every meat entree you might think of. If you’re making pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, make it the ultimate in comfort food. Turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving practically demand mashed potatoes or some other potato dish.
Or there are other dishes like Au gratin potatoes, scalloped potatoes, or even just a baked potato, that really complete a meal.
Sweet Potato and Russet Potato Alternatives
If you’re watching your carb intake or need something other than sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, you have several options.
Several potato alternatives are lower in carbohydrates and can fit the bill for a creamy, comforting dish just as well as any sweet potato or russet potato. Let’s look at some of them now.
Sweet Potato Alternatives
Sweet potatoes are more like butternut squash or pumpkin than a potato. So with that in mind, here are some great sweet potato alternatives that you can use:
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
- Kabocha or Japanese pumpkin
- Golden beets
These alternatives can be used in any way that you would use sweet potatoes, as they are very similar in texture, taste, and nutritional value.
Russet Potato Alternatives
When you’re on a low-carb diet, most, if not all, potatoes are off the menu because they are almost pure starch. While most people doing this type of diet swear by cauliflower as a perfect substitute for potatoes, it doesn’t have the same consistency and can be a disappointing experience.
Here are some better alternatives for Russet potatoes:
- Daikon radish
- Celery root
Many of these can be used as fries or in dishes like Au gratin or scalloped “potatoes.” But if you want something to replace mashed potatoes, you might try parsnips, which are related to carrots.
Find out how Russet compared to Yukon Gold Potatoes in my latest article, Yukon Gold Potato vs Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?
Sweet Potatoes and Russet Potatoes Costs
With the rising prices of just about everything, the cost of potatoes certainly matters to most people. The price may sway your decision about which potato to use. Therefore, which costs more, sweet potatoes or russet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes and russet potatoes have a similar price. Both potatoes average cost is $0.99 per pound for loose, large potatoes.
I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of sweet and russet potatoes:
- Sweet potatoes
- $0.99 per pound
- Russet potatoes
- $0.99 per pound
I also checked Walmart for sweet and russet potato prices:
- Sweet potatoes
- $0.98 per pound
- Russet potatoes
- $0.98 per pound
I then checked Stop & Shop:
- Sweet potatoes
- $1.19 each
- Russet potatoes
- $1.26 each
Sweet potatoes and russets are easy to find on Amazon. Check their variety and current price, potatoes.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes and Russet Potatoes
How to store a particular potato may make a difference when choosing one over the other. If you have both and routinely buy one or the other, you’ll want to know how to properly store them for longevity and quality.
Therefore, how do you store sweet potatoes or russet potatoes?
Store sweet potatoes or russet potatoes in a dark place away from heat. They should be kept out of the refrigerator. A humid basement or root cellar is the best area. They should be kept in a ventilated container or burlap bag and stored between 55°F and 60°F.
Storing potatoes in a refrigerator can make the center of the potato hard, change the cell structure and diminish the flavor. If you don’t have a cool basement, be sure to store them in a ventilated place, away from heat and light.
Find out how white sweet potatoes compared to sweet potatoes in my article, White Sweet Potato vs. Sweet Potato: What’s The Difference?
Sweet Potatoes and Russet Potatoes Glycemic Index
Knowing the glycemic index of certain foods is important especially if blood sugar levels is a concern. Diabetic or not, blood sugar is an important thing people should be aware of.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises or spikes the blood sugar in the blood 5. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves 6.
In general, many people should try avoiding eating high-GI foods. Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:
- Low-GI foods: 55 or under
- Medium-GI foods: 56-69
- High-GI foods: 70 or over
How blood sugars levels are affected:
- Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a more quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
Now we know what GI is, and how it affects blood sugar, let’s answer, what has a lower GI, sweet potatoes or russet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes have a lower GI than russet potatoes. A boiled sweet potato has a GI of 44, and a boiled russet potato has a GI of 54. A baked sweet potato has a GI of 94, and a baked russet potato has a GI of 111.
Not every white potato has an equal GI. Russet and other white potatoes all have different GI scores. In addition to how a potato is cooked, the heat of the potato when eaten affects the GI.
A study published in the Journal of the Diabetic Association found boiled potatoes eaten cold had a GI score of 56. When eaten hot the boiled potato had a GI score of 89 7.
To achieve the lowest potato glycemic number possible, eat a cold, boiled sweet potato.
Find out how Russet potatoes compared to red potatoes in my article, Red Potatoes vs Russet Potatoes: The Differences.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes and Russet Potatoes
For eye health, sweet potatoes is more beneficial than russet 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 8.
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 9.
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.
The Immune System
Although vitamin C is widely talked about for the immune system, vitamin A is important also. According to Harvard University, vitamin A is a great source to stimulate healthy white blood cells 10.
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
Russet 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 11.
Russet potatoes provide 417 mg of potassium and sweet potatoes 337 mg. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 12.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 13.
The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 14.
The B vitamins provided by russet and sweet potatoes include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Energy levels.
- Brain function.
- Nerve function.
- Red blood cells.
A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation.
In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 15.
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?
Wrapping Up The Potatoes
Sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes are very similar in many ways, yet very different in other ways, like nutritional content.
Depending on the dish you want to make, you can probably use them interchangeably. However, if you want to make a sweet casserole, sweet potatoes are your better bet. But if you want to make scalloped potatoes, russet potatoes are a better choice.
Then again, if you’re on a low-carb diet, you might want to try the alternatives we listed here for you.
Read Next – More Potato vs Food Articles!
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- USDA: Sweet potato, raw, unprepared
- USDA: Potatoes, russet, flesh and skin, raw
- Nutrition Value: Potatoes, raw, flesh and skin, russet
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- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention
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