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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Are sweet potatoes better than regular potatoes for those with pre-diabetes?

Is it all right for a pre-diabetic to eat sweet potato? I heard that sweet potato is better than white potato.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Twice Baked Yams recipe from Dr. Gourmet - click for the recipe!

Most sweet potatoes sold in the U.S. are often called "yams" but in fact are not, although the USDA requires that the label of "yam" be accompanied by "sweet potato" (not very helpful, I know).

The sweet potatoes (or yams) you are likely referring to are the orange-fleshed tubers that are most familiar to people served at holidays in sticky-sweet casseroles garnished with marshmallows. Regardless of the name, both yams and sweet potatoes are great for diabetics (although not covered in maple syrup, brown sugar, or marshmallows) and may be a little better than "plain" (russet, red, or Yukon Gold) potatoes because they are somewhat higher in fiber.

This fits in well with the Mediterranean Diet, which recommends choosing ingredients that are higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates. You can find out more about a Mediterranean-style diet for diabetics in my article, "The Mediterranean Diet IS a Diabetic Diet!"

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet