Did you know that anytime I talk about how I had a sweet potato I really had a yam? At the grocery store, yams are always cheaper than sweet potatoes so that’s what I buy. My roasted veggies, fries, chili… all yams. They taste exactly the same to me, plus I kind of like that yams have more of that orange color. Makes me feel like I’m eating something healthier than the more whitish color of the sweet potatoes. But I decided I should probably look them up to see if there’s any sort of difference.
Turns out, all those things labeled “yams” at the grocery store, are actually sweet potatoes! In fact, yams and sweet potatoes aren’t even related! They are two different species of root vegetable with very different backgrounds and uses. Turns out the government is the main culprit behind the confusion. Since there are two types of sweet potatoes, one with pale flesh (white & creamy with a more crumbly texture) and one with orange (sweeter and soft), the USDA labeled the orange ones yams to distinguish them from the white varieties. True yams are actually starchy tubers with black bark skin and white/purple/red flesh and are typically peeled, boiled and dried into a powder that can be cooked into a porridge.
Good thing I cleared this up because I have definitely not been getting true yams. No purple flesh for me.
If you go here, you can read about the nutritional difference between yams and sweet potatoes. The cliff notes – sweet potatoes have more protein, fiber and a heck of a lot more vitamin A.