Nutrition Myths on Sweet Potato Fries

by Kay Ireland

About Kay Ireland

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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Sweet potato fries are widely touted as a healthier alternative to French fries. While it's true that sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A and potassium, simply swapping French fries for sweet potato fries does not necessarily make a healthier meal. By separating fact from fiction when it comes to making sweet potato fries a menu staple, you'll have more realistic expectations about what the vegetable can do for you.

Sweet Potato Fries are Always Healthy

Sweet potato fries are often considered a healthy alternative to French fries, but that is not automatically the case. French fries are fried in hydrogenated oils, making them high in fat and calories. Unless otherwise specified, most restaurants use the exact same oil for frying their sweet potato fries, making them just as fatty and unhealthy. Sweet potato fries that are doused in oil and salt, then served with mayo or other sauces, are an unhealthy alternative to a baked potato or side salad.

Sweet Potato Fries are Always Unhealthy

As with French fries, careful preparation can make sweet potato fries a healthier option. When you bake the fries instead of frying them, they're lower in fat and sodium. You can also use herbs and spices, such as rosemary, garlic powder or chipotle seasoning, to amp up the flavor of the fries without piling on the salt. If you're considering ordering sweet potato fries, always ask about the preparation methods and opt for those that are baked or roasted instead of fried.

Sweet Potatoes and Yams are the Same

Before you reach for the yams at the grocery store, be aware that using yams will change the taste, texture and nutritional content of your fries. In the United States, yams, which are softer and more starchy than sweet potatoes, are also much less common. The items labeled "yams" at your local grocery store are actually very likely sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are higher in vitamin A than yams, while yams have a higher vitamin C content. The two foods are not related in any way, despite looking similar.

Healthy Sweet Potato Fries are Difficult to Make

Sweet potato fries may seem to tricky to make at home, but the exact opposite is true. You can incorporate healthy sweet potato fries, which are low in fat and calories, into your diet with correct preparation. Cut one large sweet potato into sticks. Lay the sticks onto a baking sheet and drizzle with a quarter tbsp. of olive oil. Then, add a dash of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. This version has about 122 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams protein per serving.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.