Monday, October 9, 2017

Are They Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

During the month of October, I will be participating in the Write 31 Days hosted by Crystal Stine. My category is Food, Health & Wellness and my theme is "Into The Kitchen". 

That is a good question, and one I am glad you asked. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is something we should explore, so before you say "Please pass the yams," you might want to read this.

The yam is a tropical tuber native to Africa and Asia, and is related to lilies and grasses. While yams are similar to sweet potatoes, they are an entirely different plant species. The confusion is compounded by the fact that sweet potatoes canned in the U.S. are often incorrectly labeled as yams.

Yams have a higher moisture content and more natural sugar than sweet potatoes, but they also have less Vitamins A and C. There are over 100 species of yams ranging from small potato size to over 5 feet long. Can you imagine if sweet potatoes grew to that size? Depending on the variety, their flesh ranges from off-white to dark brown.

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are the edible root of a plant belonging to the Morning Glory family. Surprised? If you've ever seen Morning Glories, then you will notice the resemblance.

Sweet Potato               
Morning Glory
Sweet potatoes also come in many varieties, but the two most often grown commercially in the U.S. are the pale ones with light yellow skin and the darker orange ones. The pale ones are not sweet and cook up more like a baking potato.

The dark ones have an orange flesh, are sweet and have a higher moisture content. All sweet potatoes are high in Vitamins A and C. The orange ones are the only ones I have cooked or eaten, and are the ones I find as fries in restaurants.

My favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is the opposite of what you find on your Thanksgiving table. I like them fried or roasted with Cajun or other spicy seasoning. To me it makes a nice balance of sweet and spicy.

How do you eat sweet potatoes?

Sweet Potato Image: The Scientific Gardener
Morning Glory Image: Bill Barber
If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Hi Linda - I do eat sweet potatoes, but not yams, and I prefer to eat them plain ... like baked potatoes ... plain with lots of butter! Potatoes and morning glory (and tomatoes) are linked to the Solanum species - which is poisonous ... something else to be remembered. Cheers Hilary

    1. I don't like the sweetness so I spice mine up. A good way to get some healthy into your diet.

      We know those as the Nightshade family here...same thing.

  2. I learned something new. No idea that morning glories and sweet potatoes are in the same family. I love sweet potato fries!

    1. One of the joys of blogging is learning new things, whether from others or from your own research for a post. Thanks for stopping by.


Hi, thanks for visiting my humble abode. All comments are read and appreciated.