Thursday, November 8, 2007

How to Tell the Difference Between a Yam and a Sweet Potato?


Continuing on with Nablopomo on Sweet potatoes:

The difference between a Yam and a Sweet potato????

Yam or sweet potato, what in the world is it? Many people use these terms interchangeably both in conversation and in cooking, but they are really two different vegetables.
Sweet PotatoesPopular in the American South, these yellow or orange tubers are elongated with ends that taper to a point and are of two dominant types. The paler-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dry, crumbly texture similar to a white baking potato. The darker-skinned variety (which is most often called "yam" in error) has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and a moist texture.

The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato.


Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium
Sweet Potato and Yam Health InformationSweet potatoes are relatively low in calories and have no fat. They are rich in beta-carotene , having five times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A in one sweet potato, as well as loaded with potassium. These nutrients help to protect against heart attack and stroke. The potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body cells, as well as normal heart function and blood pressure. Wild Mexican "yams" which are related to the sweet potato, seem to have anti-weight-gain, anti-cancer, and anti-aging properties, according to Dr. Earl Mindell. True yams do not contain as much Vitamin A and C as sweet potatoes


In the U S, there are firm varieties of sweet potatoes that were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties.
Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!


Tomorrow's views on some recipes and more facts!!

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