Sweet Potato VS. Yams, What Is The Difference?

Have you ever stood in the grocery store looking at yams and sweet potatoes and wondered what the difference is? Well, if this is the case, you are not alone. According to Susan M. Collins-Smith Mississippi State University Extension, in her article, Sweet potatoes vs. yams: What’s the difference? She explains that they are not the same; they look and taste different. Sweet potatoes are smoother, with thin skin, and varieties grown in the US can vary in colors. Yams are starchier with rougher, scaly skin and can range in size.

Smith also explains that you will not find many true yams in our US grocery stores as they require specific growing conditions found in the Caribbean. Yams are commonly grown in Central America, South America, and Africa and are traditionally native to Asia and Africa. Sweet potatoes and yams are both very nutritious and provide us with many vitamins and minerals.

According to the Library of Congress in their Everyday Mysteries titled “What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?” They share more information about yams and sweet potatoes along with their history. The firm variety of sweet potatoes were produced in the United States before the soft varieties. Enslaved persons from Africa had been calling the soft variety of sweet potatoes yams as they resembled the yams found in Africa. The name stuck, and the soft variety of sweet potatoes were referred to as yams to help distinguish the two varies. Today the US Department of Agriculture requires labeling of the term yam to be accompanied with sweet potato. So, unless you are specifically looking for yams (which can be found but more commonly found in international markets), you are probably eating sweet potatoes.

For more information about the Nutrition Coalition, check out the Richland County Nutrition Coalitions Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/1rcnc1, and the Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/1rcnc1.


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