Difference Between Yam and Sweet Potato

Difference Between Yam and Sweet Potato

Are you one of those who are bit confused to find the difference between yam and sweet potato? When you go for grocery, you might have seen that in some stores it’s labeled as yam and in some stores it’s categorized as sweet potatoes.

It is little bit difficult to find what is yam and what is sweet potatoes whereas their appearance is alike. But both aren’t same, not at all.

Sweet potatoes are not a sort of yam, and yams are not a kind of sweet potato, not at all. Although, they both are tuberous root vegetables but they are not linked with each other and don’t even have a lot in common. Both are totally different vegetable.

In US supermarkets, most vegetables written off as as a “yam” are actually just a variety of sweet potato. By reading this article, you will know that all the times you supposed you were eating sweet potato, you were likely eating a yam and or you thought you were eating yam, you were eating a sweet potato.

This is just because these both mean dissimilar things in grocery stores. But the most importantly, mostly people don’t know the difference between them.

Well, no more confusion so far because we’ll discuss about the difference yam and sweet potato. It will help you out to pick the yam or sweet potato as per your need not because of your unawareness.

What is Yam?

Yam VS Sweet Potato

Yams are tuber vegetable. A true yam is a stuffy eatable root of the Dioscorea genus, and is usually imported to America from the Caribbean. Their scientific name is Dioscorea. They are cylindrical in shape with toes. It is rough and scabby and very low in beta carotene.

Yams are native to Asia and Africa but the most of the produce coming from Africa and in Africa, it’s called “Nyami”. To make it distinction from the white variety, producers and transporter chose the English form of Nyami and labelled it to “yam”.  

Over 600 varieties of yams are well-known, and 95% of these are still grown in Africa. Yams have a tubular shape with blackish, brown, white, or rough bark-like skin that’s difficult to peel but they soften after cooking.

Yams are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes. Their taste is also different and unique as they are less sweet than sweet potatoes.

They be likely to have a good shelf life. Yams are imported and hardly found in local grocery stores. You cannot find true yams in the US. They can be found in national or international food stores.

What is Sweet Potatoes?

What is Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes’ scientific name is Ipomoea batatas that are starchy root vegetables. It has many ranges which come from the morning glory family. Skin color can be white, purple, red, yellow, or brown, whereas the surface can be white, yellow, orange, or even orange-red. It has stretched and extended shapes with elongated ends.

Sweet potatoes are long and elongated with a smooth skin that can differ in color, ranging from orange, red, brown, yellow, or purple to fawn. The flesh can range from white to orange or even purple, it depends on the type.

Like a regular potato, sweet potato plant ‘s tuberous roots are eaten as a vegetable. There are two major types of sweet potatoes.

1. Soft Sweet Potatoes

They have copper skin and orange flesh. These are also known as dark-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. These are softer and sweeter with a darker, copper-brown skin and perky orange flesh. They have a tendency to to be fuzzy and moist and are commonly found in the US. It becomes creamy and fluffy after cooking.

2. Firm Sweet Potatoes

They have golden skin and paler or light yellow flesh. It has a drier texture and is less sweet than dark-skinned sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are usually sweeter and moister than regular potatoes. It still remains firm and a slight waxy after cooking.

Difference Between Yam and Sweet Potato Comparison

Sweet potatoes are very healthy and robust vegetable. Their long shelf life lets them to be sold or traded year-round. If they are stored properly in a cool and dry place, then they can keep for up to 2 to 3 months. They can be purchased from every store. They are also available pre-peeled, cooked in cans or frozen.

Yam VS Sweet Potato Comparison Table

Originated in Africa, Imported from CaribbeanGrown in North Carolina, U.S.
It has rough brown scaly skinIt’s smooth orange with thin skin
It has white fleshIt has white, orange, or purple flesh
Cylindrical in shape with toesStretched shapes with elongated ends
Yam is rough & scabby and very low in beta carotene. Healthy and robust
Starchier and DrierMoist and sweet
Edible part called tuberTuberous roots are eaten as a vegetable

Why people are Confused?

Misperception between yams and sweet potatoes get out of bed when US producers started using the African term “nyami,” which translates to “yam,” to differentiate between different varieties of sweet potatoes.

However, these yams aren’t true yams but there is a difference between the two, and you can shop brilliantly and smartly by knowing the difference. Let me explain why there’s much confusion and why people are confused because of it. All your confusing will ride off.

As I mentioned above, there are two types of sweet potatoes, “soft” and “firm.” The firm variety was produced in the U.S., while the soft sweet potatoes began to be manufactured commercially. It was necessary to differentiate it from its well-founded counterpart.

Since the “soft” sweet potatoes slightly resembled true yams, they picked up the name and became what you see labeled as “yams” in most U.S. grocery stores.

Yam and sweet potatoes are not just different vegetables but the way they are cooked also different. I am sure, your confusion will bow out after reading this article and you would better know the difference between yam and sweet potato.