Sweet potatoes compared to yams

Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing.

Did you know that the sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing?SWEET POTATOES AND YAMS

First cultivated by Native Americans, sweet potatoes are part of the Morning Glory family. Sweet potatoes are more nutritious than yams and contain fewer calories. Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C. They have a special enzyme called amylase which helps break down the starch into a sugar that our bodies can use readily. The sweet potato that we actually consume is truly a root vegetable. Our confusion between the two is because of labeling. Sweet potato skin is beige, orange and sometimes purple in color, and has light yellow to orange to purple colored flesh. Sweet potatoes can be found in many local grocery stores. The two potatoes pictured on the left are sweet potatoes, the two on the right are yams.

Yams are part of the Lily family. Lily family means they are actually a perennial plant that dies in the fall and winter and then comes back in the spring. Yams are native to Africa and Asia. While yams are not as nutritious as sweet potatoes, they also contain amylase. They can weigh up to 100 pounds and are very starchy. Yams have very dark skin and the flesh of a yam can range from white, to red, to purple colored flesh. If you are looking for a yam you may have to go to an international grocery store to purchase it.

To find out more about different types of flowers and vegetables Michigan State University Extension offers a Master Gardener program that provides instruction in basic, research-based horticulture science to motivated and active gardeners.