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Types of Sweet Potatoes (With Images) and Why You Should Eat Each

Louise Hendon | November 2
Sweet Potato Varieties

Confused about the types of sweet potatoes?

I lived on this island off the Southern coast of China for 3 months, and I partially survived on sweet potatoes(in addition to salted duck eggs, roasted duck, and fresh fish!).

One of the things that always bothered me when living in China was I couldn’t tell what type of sweet potato I was buying. My friend, who is living in Okinawa, expressed the same problem. So, when we discussed our favorite sweet potatoes (I know, it’s the sort of geeky conversation foodies indulge in!), we’d result to laborious descriptions of what the skin looked like, what color the flesh was, how sweet it was, etc.

So, when I spotted these 5 types of sweet potatoes in Whole Foods the other day, I decided to document these sweet potatoes with photographs and notes!

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Here are the results (note accurate nutritional data on each type of sweet potato was difficult to obtain so please use it with a grain of salt):

Types of Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato types

types of sweet potatoes and yams

types of sweet potatoes and yams cooked
There are a ton of different types of sweet potatoes from Beauregard to Regal, but it’s hard to find most of them in the store.

Incidentally, yams and sweet potatoes are different, and all the ones described below are technically sweet potatoes (not yams) even though they’re often called yams (which is due to an unfortunate naming incident in the US). Yams (typically not sweet but still starchy) are from the dioscoreaceae family whereas sweet potatoes are from the ipomoea batatas family.

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Types of Sweet Potatoes – Hannah Sweet Potatoes

Types of sweet potatoes - hannah yams
SKIN – Cream colored and pretty smooth.
FLESH – Cream/whitish colored that becomes yellow when baked.
TASTE – Pretty sweet and fairly firm inside (Hannah sweet potatoes are considered a dry or firm sweet potato meaning that the flesh is pretty firm and dry when cooked).

Types of Sweet Potatoes – Japanese Sweet Potatoes

Types of sweet potatoes - Japanese yams
SKIN – Purple and fairly smooth. Generally more round (“fatter”) than the Stokes purple sweet potatoes, which are more elongated.
FLESH – Whitish flesh that turns golden when baked.
TASTE – Very sweet and fairly firm inside.
NUTRITION – Data from Calorie Count.
Serving Size: 1 medium (130g)
Calories: 113
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Potassium: 438mg
Total Carbohydrates: 27g
Protein: 2.3g
Vitamin A: 202%*
Vitamin C: 30%*
Calcium: 5%*

Types of Sweet Potatoes – Jewel Sweet Potatoes

Types of sweet potatoes - jewel yams
SKIN – Orange/copper. I find it really hard to tell garnet and jewel sweet potatoes apart because their coloring is fairly similar both inside and outside. To me, it seems that garnets are slightly more redish in color on the outside.
FLESH – Deep orange.
TASTE – Mildly sweet and fairly firm inside.
NUTRITION Data from Earthbound Farm.
Serving Size: 3/4 cup (85g)
Calories: 70
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 15mg
Total Carbohydrates: 23g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 2g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 300%*
Vitamin C: 10%*
Calcium: 2%*
Iron: 2%*

Types of Sweet Potatoes – Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes

Types of sweet potatoes - stokes purple sweet potatoes yams
SKIN – Deep purple.
FLESH – Deep purple.
TASTE – Not very sweet, and pretty dry inside.
NUTRITION – Data from Stokes Foods.
Serving Size: 4 oz (113g)
Calories: 130
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 0
Total Carbohydrates: 29g
Dietary Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: <2%*
Vitamin C: 20%*
Calcium: 4%*
Iron: 6%*
Antioxidants – these purple sweet potatoes are high in anthocyanin, a phytochemical.

Types of Sweet Potatoes – Garnet Sweet Potatoes

Types of sweet potatoes - garnet yams
SKIN – Redish/Dark Orange.
FLESH – Orange.
TASTE – Mildly sweet, and pretty moist inside.
NUTRITION – Data from Earthbound Farm.
Serving Size: 3/4 cup (85g)
Calories: 80
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 15mg
Total Carbohydrates: 22g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 2g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 300%*
Vitamin C: 8%*
Calcium: 4%*
Iron: 2%*

Are Sweet Potatoes Paleo?

Yes! Sweet potatoes are definitely paleo!

Sweet Potato Nutrition:
Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin A, although please note that the type of vitamin A in sweet potatoes is betacarotene, which is not converted well into vitamin A in humans – typically only 3% of betacarotene you intake is converted into vitamin A).

Sweet potatoes are also a great source of “high-quality protein”, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs even though the absolute amount of protein is fairly low.

They’re also a good source of antioxidants.

All that nutrition with no real toxicity makes sweet potatoes a delicious addition to any Paleo meal.

Side note – the only thing to watch out for is if you have digestive issues that may be exacerbated by sweet potatoes or if you have blood sugar issues.

How To Cook Sweet Potatoes

There are so many different ways to incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

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The easiest way is to boil/steam/oven-bake/microwave the whole sweet potato with the skin on.

For boiling or steaming, cook until you can stick a fork easily into the sweet potato (30-60min).

For baking, poke a few holes into each sweet potato with a fork or knife, bake on 350-375F (175-190C) until a fork goes in easily (45-90min).

And for microwaving, poke a few holes into each sweet potato with a fork or knife, place in microwaveable dish, and microwave on high for 5-10 minutes.

And if you want to eat sweet potatoes a different way, then here are some of our favorite recipes:

Paleo Sweet Potato Recipes

Paleo Coconut Sweet Potato Mash Recipe
Paleo Coconut Sweet Potato Mash Recipe

Paleo Brussels Sprouts Recipe with Lemon, Bacon, and Sweet Potatoes Recipe
Paleo Brussels Sprouts Recipe with Lemon, Bacon, and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Walnut & Coconut Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole

Raw Sweet Potato Salad

Paleo Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Rosemary and Sea Salt Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs

Post Workout Sweet Potato Coffee Protein Shake

Which One Is Your Favorite Type of Sweet Potato?

Let us know in the comments below which type of sweet potato you love. The Japanese sweet potato is my current favorite!

*Percent Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Joy - November 19

Japanese sweet potatoes are my favorite, so delicious!

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