Are sweet potatoes, cassava, or yams good substitutes for potatoes?

Despite being a vegetable product, potato's high glycemic index excludes it from being one of the food staples that should be included among the recommended 5 daily pieces of fruit and vegetables that people should eat. Every time we eat potatoes our blood skyrockets and, consequently, the body releases a lot of insulin in a short time, stated Daniel Ursua, a dietitian-nutritionist. If these peaks occur very often, "it can cause resistance to insulin and degenerate into type 2 diabetes," he added.

But, in addition, when insulin is overstimulated, an accumulation of fat occurs, according to Susana Monereo, of the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity (Seedo), that is, although the potatoes do not contain saturated fats, they have the ability to increase our body weight.

Due to this, other tubers have gained fame as substitutes for potatoes in recent times, such as sweet potatoes, cassava, and yams.

Sweet Potato
In recent years there has been a real boom in consumption of sweet potatoes because they have been associated with healthy cooking. However, are sweet potatoes actually healthier than potatoes? According to the Spanish Federation of Nutrition (FEN), potatoes contain about 88 kilocalories per 100 grams, 18% carbohydrates, and a low 2% fiber. Sweet potato, meanwhile, store 101 kilocalories in the same amount, have 21.5% carbohydrates, and 2.5% fiber.

Sweet potatoes are, therefore, richer in carbohydrates because, in addition to starch, they have a higher sugar content than potato. However, sweet potatoes are richer in micronutrients and have more fiber than potatoes, which lowers their glycemic index. Despite this, the differences are not so abysmal. The choice of one food or another is not important, but how we cook them. In this sense, it is better to bake or boil the potato and sweet potato than to fry them in oil.

Cassava and Yam
These two tubers, which in Spain are exotic, are not a better option. Both exceed 100 kilocalories per 100 grams and contain a greater amount of carbohydrates than sweet potatoes and potatoes. Carbohydrates make up almost 30% of the composition of both foods. In addition, they have a lower glycemic index than potato because they contain more fiber.

However, cassava or yam-type chips snacks are no better than those made with potatoes, as is the case with sweet potatoes. The best advice we can follow is to reduce consumption of tubers because they are all similar, and get used to other types of snacks, such as nuts, and other side dishes, such as salads or legumes.



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