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

There are many varieties of sweet potato including a white sweet potato. They both come from the same family and to the untrained eye look similar. Therefore, let’s answer the question, what’s the difference between a white sweet potato and sweet potato?

The main difference is a white sweet potato has a white color flesh, and a sweet potato has an orange flesh. A white sweet potato has a pale copper color skin while a sweet potato skin is more rose to reddish. Regular sweet potatoes have a stronger flavor and contain more antioxidants.

This article will examine both varieties in every detail including a side-by-side nutrient and antioxidant comparison. In addition, I’ll take a look at the difference in their taste, texture, price and if they can be substituted for each other.

During my health coaching sessions the topic of potatoes often come up due to their healthiness. I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both potatoes prior to, during and sometimes after writing this article.

Differences Between a White Sweet Potato and a Sweet Potato

  • A sweet potato has a redder skin.
  • A white sweet potato has a lighter color flesh.
  • The flavor of a white sweet potato is milder.
  • The regular sweet potato has a harder skin.
  • White sweet potatoes cost more.
  • Sweet potatoes have a better glycemic index than white sweet.
  • Regular sweet potatoes contain more antioxidants.
Kevin Garce cooking sweet potatoes and white sweet potatoes in his kitchen
Cooking sweet potatoes and white sweet potatoes in my kitchen

Nutrient Differences

Here’s a table of the nutritional contents of a 100-gram (3.5 ounces) serving of each one.

Sweet Potato Cooked (100 g) White Sweet Potato Cooked (100 g)
Calories 90 90
Protein 2.01 g 1.75 g
Carbohydrates 20.7 g 21.0 g
Fiber 3.3 g 3.5 g
Fat 0.15 g 0.0 g
Sugar 6.48 g 6.14 g
Vitamin A 19,200 IU 19,200 IU
Vitamin C 19.6 mg 19.5 mg
Iron 0.69 mg 0.63 mg
Calcium 38 mg 35 mg

Nutrient Resources 1 2 3

White Sweet Potato vs Sweet Potato: Antioxidants

Antioxidant White Sweet Potato Sweet Potato
Carotenoid 0.006 0.047
Anthocyanin 0.012 0.016
Flavonoid 0.617 0.705
Phenolic 1.580 1.490

At first glance the nutrients between the two are similar. This leads many people to wonder which one is healthier.

Sweet potatoes are healthier than white sweet potatoes due to their greater percentage of antioxidants. They provide more carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids than white sweet potatoes.

The bigger difference between the two is the carotenoid antioxidants shown above 4. Since the orange flesh sweet potato contains more carotenoids than the white, let’s discuss them in more detail 5.

Carotenoids are yellow and orange pigments which are a source of vitamin A. It’s what gives the regular variety its orange color.

Common carotenoids include:

  • Beta carotenes
  • Lycopene
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Lutein

Carotenoids are beneficial to eye health and the immune system 6. Let’s examine more of the health benefits of the two potatoes.

I often choose regular sweet potatoes due to their nutrients. Of all the potatoes, I prefer them for this reason.

The following video explains the differences between the two potatoes.

Health Benefits

Eye Health

There are two nutrients the body converts into vitamin A. Most notably, Beta Carotene, which is easily absorbed by the body. According to numerous studies, vitamin A helps the eyes when it comes to dim light vision and dry eyes 7.

Consuming one regular sweet potato provides 730% of the daily value for vitamin A. The Anthocyanins found in both foods have been found in studies to protect eye cells from damage improving overall eye health 8.

Immune System

According to an article by Harvard University, vitamin A is a great source to stimulate healthy white blood cells 9. These cells have the responsibility of keeping the immune system as healthy as possible to fight viruses and illnesses effectively.

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

Diabetes

Sweet potatoes have a good number of carbs which would lead one to think it can spike blood sugar a good amount. Although the carbs are complex and raise blood sugar more slowly. They have a moderate glycemic index and are considered safe for people with diabetes.

In a study involving 61 people with type 2 diabetes, they were given white sweet potato extract daily for twelve weeks. The researchers found fasting blood sugar levels decreased significantly. In addition, the participants lost body weight and lowered cholesterol 10.

In another study, 18 men with type 2 diabetes were given white sweet potato extract. The results indicated the participants increased insulin sensitivity compared to those who received a lower amount of extract 11.

I conducted my own research about the Glycemic index and here’s what The University of Sydney contained about both foods in their Glycemic Index Research and GI News website 12.

Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises or spikes the blood sugar in the blood 13. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves 14.

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 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 take a close look at the scores of each food.

Sweet potatoes have a lower GI than white sweet potatoes. A boiled sweet potato has a GI of 44, and a boiled white sweet potato has a GI of 75.

Sweet potatoes roasted in a pan
Sweet potatoes roasted in a pan

Digestion and Gut Health

Both foods 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 15.

Potassium

Sweet potatoes provide 475 mg per 100 grams. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These helps keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 16.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 17.

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 18.

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.

Taste and Texture

Because they look similar from the outside, you would immediately expect the two vegetables to taste the same. However, once you peel the skin from both, you are greeted with two completely different-looking vegetables. To avoid confusion, let’s discuss the taste and texture of both.

  • Sweet potato generally holds its sweet flavors consistently. You will almost always get a subtle starchy undertone with rich sweet flavors. The texture is stringy, crumbly, and soft. You can mash it for a smooth, fluffy texture. The skin is harder.
  • White sweet potato has similar characteristics to its sweet potato sibling. However, the sweetness is more subtle. Although, you’ll still get starchy undertones. The texture is also similar except the white variety tend to be a little drier like a regular potato. The skin is softer.

I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you by conducting some original research. Therefore, I reached out to some clients, members of food groups and readers. I asked, what tastes better, white sweet potatoes or regular sweet potatoes?

  • 53% said they preferred the taste of regular sweet potatoes.
  • 39% said they preferred the taste of white sweet potatoes.
  • 8% said they had no preference.

I also participated in my own blind taste test. We mashed them and seasoned them exactly the same. I chose the regular ones for their taste.

In the taste poll and my own taste test, regular sweet potatoes were found to taste better and was the winner.

It is not uncommon for people to buy sweet potatoes thinking they got one variant only to realize they got white sweet potato instead of orange, and vice versa. Therefore, the next section discusses the possibilities of substituting one for the other.

White sweet potato and sweet potato comparison

Substitutions

You can substitute white sweet potatoes for sweet potatoes for almost any dish. They can both be baked, roasted, mashed or grilled. White sweet potatoes won’t taste as sweet, therefore when making a sweet recipe like a pie, extra seasonings may be used. Use equal amounts when substituting.

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

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

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

The following video explains the differences from the different sweet potatoes including the white ones.

The Cost of Each

With the price of food increasing all the time, I’m sure the prices of each food matter to most people. Therefore, let’s examine the prices of both.

White sweet potatoes cost 52% more than per pound than regular sweet potatoes. White sweet potatoes average cost is $1.60 per pound and regular costs $1.05 per pound.

To conduct my own research, I checked three different supermarkets located in my area. Both supermarkets are on different levels of pricing. Walmart is the most economical and Stop and Shop being more expensive.

Here are my findings, first I visited Walmart:

Walmart:

  • Sweet potatoes
    • $0.98 per pound
  • White sweet potatoes
    • $1.28 per pound

Shoprite:

  • Sweet potatoes
    • $0.99 per pound
  • White sweet potatoes
    • $1.92 per pound

Stop and Shop:

  • Sweet potatoes
    • $1.19 each
Storing white sweet potatoes and regular sweet in a burlap bag
Storing white sweet potatoes and regular sweet potatoes in a burlap bag

How To Store

White 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 them in the refrigerator is not the best because it produces a hard center and an unpleasant taste. They both can store for about two weeks in the proper conditions, anywhere from 55°F to 60°F 19.

Both varieties can be stored together. Keep them in a ventilated container like a potato keeper or burlap bag.

When picking either food, always choose ones large and firm looking. If you have a local farm or stand close by, buy them there. The ones in the supermarket probably have been stored for months already, while farm-fresh varieties may only be a week old.

Sweet potatoes at the farm
Sweet potatoes at the farm

Find out how purple yams compared in my article, Purple Sweet Potato vs Purple Yam: What’s The Difference?

If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

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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. USDA: White Sweet Potatoes[]
  2. USDA: Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, without salt[]
  3. Nutrition Value: White sweet potatoes by Wada Farms[]
  4. ScienceDirect: Comparative analysis of phytochemical and nutrient availability in two contrasting cultivars of sweet potato (Ipomoea balatas L.) []
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Comparative analysis of phytochemicals and nutrient availability in two contrasting cultivars of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) []
  6. ScienceDirect: Antioxidant activities, phenolic and B-carotene contents of sweet potato genotypes with varying flash colors[]
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutrients for the aging eye[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Review on nutritional composition of orange-fleshed sweet potato and its role in management of vitamin A deficiency[]
  9. Harvard Health: Vitamin A[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Efficacy of Ipomoea balatas (Caiapo) on diabetes control in type 2 diabetic subjects treated with diet[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mode of action of ipomoea balatas (Caiapo) in type 2 diabetic patients[]
  12. The University of Sydney: Glycemic Index Researcher and GI News[]
  13. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  14. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  15. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[]
  16. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  17. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  18. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  19. North Carolina Sweet Potatoes: How To Store Sweet potatoes[]

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