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Celiac Disease Nutrition Guide, 3rd Edition (Single Copy)

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Nutrition Q & A

Sweet Potatoes and Yams Look Alike to Me — Are They Different?

The orange vegetables you see labeled "yams" in many grocery stores are actually sweet potatoes. Yams are a completely different vegetable and belong to a separate plant family. Sweet potatoes have traditionally been referred to as "yams" in parts of the US and Canada—creating confusion on the real identity of these root vegetables.

True "yams" grow on a tropical vine that is rarely cultivated in the US. They are popular in South and Central America, and in parts of Asia and Africa. The flesh of yams is typically white or yellow, but may also be purple to pink. They vary in size from that of an average potato up to 7 ½ feet long and can weigh up to 120 pounds. Yams are high in vitamin C, fiber and potassium but have less vitamin A than sweet potatoes.

Yams can be prepared much like sweet potatoes; however, to find them you will need to locate a market that specializes in international foods.