Tell Me About It, Spud!

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If sweet potato fries haven’t already convinced you, we’re here to reaffirm the greatness of this popular holiday root. Sweet potatoes are known for being staple ingredients in comfort meals, but they are often confused for yams. As you walk through the produce department, it can be hard to shake the question, “What exactly is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?”

Sweet PotatoesBag of Sweet potatoes and yams


Like the name suggests, these spuds are the sweeter of the two. Sweet potatoes will typically have a deeper and stronger orange color. They are members of the morning glory plant family and are tropical, long-season vegetables. While botanical yams are rarely found in stores in the U.S., you will find an abundance of options for sweet potatoes.


This is where confusion can come into play. Don’t be deceived by the names that these go by—they are actually sweet potatoes!
  • Garnet Yam (red sweet potato)
  • Jewel Yam (orange sweet potato)
  • Classic (white sweet potato)


  • Sweet potatoes blow yams away with vitamin A!
  • Sweet potatoes are twice as high in calcium compared to yams.
  • The natural sugars in sweet potatoes will give you a quick energy boost.
  • Eating a sweet potato after exercise can aid in a quick recovery.
  • Higher in natural sweetener, the carbohydrates and natural sugars in sweet potatoes are released in the blood stream faster. It is good to pair with high-fiber vegetables or protein.



The name, “yam,” was first adopted from the word “nyami”—meaning “to eat.” In comparison to potatoes, yams can grow to be much larger. They are distinguishable by a starchier and drier quality. Unlike sweet potatoes, yams are related to grasses and lilies. They are typically available in countries like West Africa, Asia or the Caribbean. Fortunately, the availability of sweet potatoes in your local store will be handy for favorite dishes around Thanksgiving. The expectation is that around 1.25 million pounds of sweet potatoes will be sold during this particular time of year!