You should know that sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are at the very top of the nutrition pyramid for plant foods. There are many people who consider these root vegetables the world’s healthiest food. So why are sweet potatoes so good for you?
Because sweet potatoes alone contain nearly all the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs, include all the amino acids and proteins, and some fats too. All this nonsense about “where do vegans get their protein from?” hops down the drain, because there is enough protein in many plant-based foods, including sweet potatoes if you eat enough of them.
Sweet Potatoes VS Regular Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have higher amounts of fiber and vitamin A (beta-carotene), but white potatoes have higher minerals such as potassium and iron. It’s not that one is better than the other, rather they have complementary nutritional differences.
Both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes originated from Central and South America and have been spread throughout the world. Although both are called “potatoes,” botanically speaking they are completely different.
Regular potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) belong to the Solanaceae “night shade” family, which includes tomatoes, eggplant, and chile peppers. The solanine they produce are poisonous, so make sure to not eat the leaves or stems of plants from this family, and don’t eat potatoes that have turned green.
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) come from the Convolvulaceae family. Unlike the night shades, sweet potato leaves are edible and nutritious, they’re often eaten raw in salads in the Philippines or used to replace spinach.
Why Don’t White Potatoes Get Called a Superfood?
You’ve probably heard somewhere before about sweet potatoes being a “superfood,” and that they have a low glycemic index and they are “good carbs,” which is all true, but why did regular potatoes get left out of this?
Regular white potatoes have been suggested as less healthy for having a higher glycemic index and being the cause of obesity and diabetes. But actually both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes are healthy foods. You can enjoy them both, regardless of your health and fitness goals.
Carbphobia VS Reality
White potatoes get a bad rep because of all the anti-carb drivel out there these days, but I am here to tell you that the carbs are not the problem. White potatoes have been used as a scapegoat for the diseases caused by the high fat animal junk that’s usually eaten along with it.
For example, baked potatoes are often eaten along with cheese, bacon, butter and sour cream. Then people wonder why they get fat eating it, and they blame the carbs!
Sweet potatoes on the other hand are often eaten in their whole form with nothing added to it, inevitably they experience no weight gain problems, and that’s why people tend to view it in a more positive light.
20 Potatoes a Day
Chris Voigt, a potato farmer from Iowa did an experiment where he ate nothing but 20 potatoes everyday for 60 days to show the nutritional value of potatoes, he lost 21 pounds and dropped his cholesterol by 67 points, and immensely increased his overall health.
Another guy from Australia, “Spudfit,” did one whole year where he ate nothing but potatoes and also lost weight and thrived in health, check out this journey HERE.
Just know that these people did not lose weight via calorie restriction, they ate as much as they needed to and lost the weight because they fed their bodies real food, and the weight will just naturally fall off on it’s own.
But Don’t Potatoes Make You Fat?
The problem occurs when people eat potatoes with high fat things put on it, like the cheese and butter on mashed potatoes or greasy french fries, then it becomes a high fat food. You see, the fat is the problem, not the carbs.
“The fat you eat is the fat you wear” – Dr. John A. McDougall
If you just eat potatoes alone then you won’t become obese. It is actually quite difficult to get fat eating only high carb foods, which includes other things commonly perceived as causing weight gain such as rice and pasta.
The human body generally does not find it efficient to convert carbs into fat storage, so it tends to store it temporarily as glycogen or burn it off via dietary thermogenesis. I have explained this in detail in another post which you can check it out HERE.
Potatoes Are Incredibly Filling
Another reason it is difficult to gain weight eating potatoes because it is very high on the satiety index, meaning they’re incredibly filling. You don’t need to eat a lot before you feel full, getting fat due to over eating on potatoes alone is unlikely.
Super Spuds, Super Nutritious
Hypothetically if I had to choose one single food and nothing else to live on for years at a time, it has got to be the sweet potatoes and/or regular potatoes. I’ve heard somewhere before that if you only ate potatoes and broccoli for a year or two, you would be absolutely fine and in good health. Mr. Spudfit from Australia is evidence to this, but I would like you to check out the data for yourself in cronometer.
Lets do an experiment right now. If you didn’t know, Cronometer is an online tool you can use to put in the foods you eat in a day and see how much vitamins and minerals you’re getting from those foods.
1. Go to Cronometer now and type in sweet potatoes, go with 12 cups mashed. You should get just over 2300 calories for the day, which is a very typical daily amount of calories for both men and women.
2. Go down to the vitamins and minerals chart and see how well you would be doing. The fats would be a bit low on just potatoes alone, but everything else is almost 100% covered. The missing B12 you can get from supplements as most vegans do, and vitamin D from going out in the sun during the day time.
3. Add in some green vegetables like a few cups of broccoli or spinach, nuts, and chia seeds to cover your omega fats, and you’ve pretty much covered all your essential nutritional needs… including the oh-so-important PROTEIN, which you get around 45 grams from just the potatoes alone, more if you add in the nuts and seeds. So again, down the drain with the “vegans don’t get enough protein” myth.
4. Now start a new page and plug in the foods you usually eat in a day, and compare the results. I did this with a couple of people and they have found that even by just having nothing but sweet potatoes alone, it is still nutritionally superior to their usual Standard American Diet. Additionally, most vegans include other things like leafy greens, nuts and seeds to cover the fats. This experiment just shows you how nutritious potatoes are and how easy it is to get enough nutrition on a plant-based diet.
So exactly what are vegans missing? What are all these imaginary nutrients that one can only get from animal foods as the meat and dairy industry proponents will argue?
I hope this article not only showed you the nutritional value of both sweet and regular potatoes, but also that vegans can easily get enough nutrition though diet. I’m certainly not advocating anyone to go ahead and eat nothing but potatoes for years, but the cronometer experiment just shows how easy and simple it is for vegans to meet the USDA nutritional guidelines when we have the super spuds available to us.
Let me know in the comments below what you think about sweet potatoes, and what results you have found with the cronometer experiment. Subscribe with your email in the box and more vegan related posts will be coming your way soon.