Fall Throwdown: Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

Fall Throwdown: Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

Sweet potatoes and yams- are they the same?  This great question is not uncommon to overhear two people deliberating.  I have over-heard this exact conversation amongst colleagues in the lunchroom, on television and even in the yoga change room!

So today, let’s discuss the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. This way, next time you are asked or over-hearing this common casual conversation, you can jump right in and contribute!



Grocery Store Shopping: Are Sweet Potatoes and Yams the Same?

In most Canadian grocery stores the short answer is yes.  Sweet potatoes have traditionally (and wrongfully) been referred to as “yams”, which has lead to consumer confusion.  Therefore, in grocery stores you will often see sweet potatoes erroneously labeled as a yam.   In North America, yams are not readily available at grocery stores so if you are seeking a true “yam” you will likely need to try an international food market that carries Caribbean or African foods.


In North America, yams are not readily available at grocery stores. Click To Tweet


Know the Difference!


Family of origin Inside flesh colour Outer skin colour Shape Size Nutrition Profile Readily available in grocery stores?
Sweet Potato Morning Glory Orange White, yellow, orange, brown or purple Short and often with tapered ends 12-15 cm in length Higher in vitamin A, beta-carotene, lower in calories and carbohydrates Yes
Yam Lily family Typically white or yellow, sometimes purple or pink Thick, rough and scaly skin that is often brown Long and cylindrical Vary in size; can be 7.5 feet long and weigh 120 pounds! Slightly higher in fibre, vitamin C, and potassium No


Bottom Line:

Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same.  Now you will be able to tell if the grocery store “yam” is actually a sweet potato!  There is also a significant difference in taste with sweet potatoes being moist and yams being dry; sweet potatoes also taste sweet and yams taste starchy.  Sweet potatoes have a richer nutrition profile, but both are healthy foods.  Hope that solves the fall throwdown between the sweet potato and the yam!


Sweet potatoes are more moist and sweet, while yams are more dry and starchy. Click To Tweet


Here’s my Cinnamon + Spice Sweet Potato Wedges recipe!