Sweet Potato Fries: Are They Really Any Better for You?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Do you have sweet potato on the brain like we do? I've been eating them in every way possible this fall: Cut into wedges and roasted with spices; baked in foil and smothered with cinnamon and pecans; even blended up into smoothies! One my favorite treats is a piping hot batch of sweet potato fries. You've heard time and time again that sweet potatoes are full of good-for-you nutrients, but does that hold true when they're sliced up and fried? What do you think: Is there really that big of a difference between regular French fries and sweet potato fries? We're putting Ore Ida's Sweet Potato Fries and Golden Fries (regular French fries) head to head to find out the answer!

The Winner: It's a Tie!

First, let's check out the nutrition information for both spuds, from the Ore Ida website:
Golden Fries                                                                           
Serving Size: 84g
Servings Per Container: About 11
Amount Per Serving
Calories 130 Calories from Fat 30
  % Daily Value *
Total Fat 3.5g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Trans Fat 0  
Cholesterol 0 0%
Sodium 290mg 13%
Potassium 390mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 21g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars <1g  
Protein 2g  
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 0%
Iron 2%
Sweet Potato Fries
Serving Size: 84g
Servings Per Container: About 6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 160 Calories from Fat 70
  % Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g 12%
Saturated Fat 0.5g 3%
Trans Fat 0  
Cholesterol 0 0%
Sodium 160mg 8%
Potassium 280mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 21g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 10%
Sugars 6g  
Protein 1g  
Vitamin A 50%
Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 2%
Iron 4%
It looks like the sweet potato fries have 30 more calories than the regular fries per serving, as well as 4.5 more grams of fat. However, the sweet potato fries also have 50% more vitamin A than the regular fries, with 130 fewer mg of sodium. Also notice that both varieties of fries have the same amount of fiber (2 grams). Both potatoes and sweet potatoes get most of their fiber from the skin, which is often sliced off in commercially-prepared fries. With skin, sweet potatoes have just slightly more fiber than regular potatoes.

Want to make healthy sweet potato fries at home? Try this baked version!
Which do you prefer: Regular fries or sweet potato fries?

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I agree with what other said to begin with - how do you compare crappy store-bought fries on a health site?!

But that aside, I think there is more to the comparison than simple calorie/fat/nutrient breakdown. I pick SP over regular because of the nutrients but also because of the smaller glycemic impact. Report
I do not think they are interchangeable. Each has an application dependent on the accompanying food items. I also would not use prepared convience food. I would be more interested in the scratch versions. But I love them both. Report
Why would you use crappy, pre-made fries to compare? Why not compare homemade? Both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes that you bake at home (no bags of industrially prepared food involved) are better for you. Report
Baked fries can have as much oil as deep fried, it depends on how much oil you put on the pan. Deep frying, actually, can produce less greasy food, than baked or pan fried. Just because you are dipping the food in oil, does not mean all of it goes into your food. It's basic food science.

Anyway, I eat regular fries and sweet potato fries, with different things. They are not interchangeable in my opinion. Certain combinations of foods work better together. Generally, I like sweet potatoes with pork or pork products, and regular potatoes with beef. The exception is probably, I toss sweet potato fries with Furikake and serve this is asian food. Report
Haven't tried sweet potato fries but I love sweet potatoes so really should try some! Report
It should be a no brainer that if you deep fry potatoes (or anything for that matter) would give it more calories as it's soaked it hot oil. So yeah they would be just as bad for you as regular fries are. I love baked fries, hence we are subtracting the oil that the potatoes are bathing in when using the deep FAT frier. Report
The majority of the calories in deep-fried fries are from the oil, so this isn't a huge surprise. I love oven fries, though, of either variety.

JODAFEEN2012: I do something very similar. Your spice blend sounds awesome! Report
I don't like sweet potatoes, and I've been trying to convince myself I SHOULD because they are better for me. That makes me kind of glad to see this! Not that I eat them very often..its been a few months since I've eaten french fries, but when I do I won't feel as bad now! Report
I hate to cook. Report
If I'm going to have sweet potato "fries", I make them myself instead of using the prepacked, predigested stuff you find in the freezer. I peel them, cut them into wedges, use just a touch of olive oil, and add my own seasoning blend of cinnamon and red chile powder. Bake them in the oven for 45 minutes @350, and voila! A healthy, flavorful side dish! Report
I have to confess...it didn't matter how this turned out I would still be going with the regular fries. It doesn't matter how good for me sweet potatoes are, I just cannot force myself to eat them. They are right there at the top of my list of most disgusting foods of all time! Report
and if you make real sweet potatoe fries, not the processed, breaded, deep fried, fast food fries, they beat regular fries hands down. Peel and cut a sweet potatoe into shoe strings or wedges, toss in 1tbsp olive oil and herbs and bake until cooked. Report
I love it when I find a restaurant that has sweet potato fries on the menu! Baked ones are awesome. I buy the ones in the freezer section at the Health Market and bake them. Delicious! Report
Bummer! I was hoping sweet potato fries were better... Even though I knew better. Report
DENNISBISHOP, 84 grams = 3 ounces Report
I think it's a shame you do these comparisons with processed crap instead of real food. Report
This recipe sounds really good. I bake my own without the sugar though Report
Rarely ever eat any fries. But love sweet potatoes! Bought 3 bushel from farmer who raised them, shared some with 3 kids and friends. Tonight for dinner I put two in a potato bag I use in microwave and DH and I each had one. Did splurge with a little butter, though. Toward end of season I will bake lots and put in freezer to be used later as grandkids love them too. (Their favorite pie is sweet potato pie! Report
I just made my first batch of "baked" sweet potato fries. So yummy & much less fat!!! I prefer them to fried. Report
Both nutrition labels list the serving size as 84g. the bag of sweet potato fries is simply a smaller bag.

Personally, I love oven baked sweet potato fries and will choose them over regular fries any day!! Report
Please notice that the sweet potatoes are 6 servings per bag and the regular potatoes are 11 so the serving size is almost twice as big. If you reduced the sweet potatoes to the same serving size as the regular fries, they'd be a lot better for you.
I am not a big fan of fried foods, and that goes for french fries. I prefer the sweet potato fries because of their taste. I also base many of my food choices on how much salt is present. Report
I just didn't like sweet potato fires... and 30 more calories well now you have me talked into eating fries.... 130 isn't that much... I have been getting lots of vitamin a from butternut squash, spincach, kale, swiss chard ,carrots and red graperfruit... so maybe fries... it had been at least 6 months since... Report
GREAT comment Markki!!! The sweet potato is so much healthier. I as an advocate of the PH lifestyle(diet) am almost to the point of curing my diabetes and one of the foods we are engouraged to eat a lot of is the sweet potato. Modern medicine nor traditional diabetic "diet coaches" do not realize the potential of holistic medicines approach to a healthy diet. Report
I've always loved sweet potatoes and have over the past year made the switch to primarily eating sweet potato fries when I go out instead of regular ones. For me personally, they come in a good bit lower on the glycemic (and caloric) end as I prefer my sweet potato fries plain and just can't resist slathering regular fries in a ton of ketchup (and seasoned salt). Report
I totally agree with both PDANNYK and RD03875. It’s a shame that you compared processed foods instead of the healthier make your own versions. Perhaps you could post an addition to this post with a comparison of the home-made varieties with natural foods. These products have a lot of ingredients that I and many of my clients no longer use so it’s not a helpful comparison for most. Report
Yes, I agree on the stats! But as a holistic practitioner I am shocked there is not more finding on the NON-GMO versis Conventional Growing of the nutrients in Sweet Potatos and how the carbs actually break down better in the body then the Traditional Potato. There are about double the Nutrients and there fore the brain knows when to stop eating the NON-GMO & Organic Foods. However, the frying method kills these nutrients and and there fore it is much healthier to just bake "Fry" them. We call it Oven Frying in our house. So I just am glad that you did the calorie count of these and hope to start seeing more nutrition on these type of things. Thank's Report
Thank-you for finally doing a good side by side comparison. We look at the different brands and compare the sweet potato fries and then bake them instead of frying them.

Interesting that they have so much more fat.

rumbamel Report
The highter nutrient content make sweet potato fries my choice. However, method of preparation, fats added etc. I do believe make a difference. Report
Why was this test done using processed, pre-prepared foods rather than a side by side using all fresh ingredients? The fats and salt used plus added "preservatives makes a huge difference in comparing healthyness of foods. Try them side by side using a sprayed on olive oil and natural sea salt to see the difference. One big difference is that the natural sweet potatoes is higher in many vitamins and minerals, plus, the GI of the sweet potato is much lower and the sweet potato is much more alkaline to the body along with being lower in starches. As a diabetic this is very misleading information for my blood sugar control. .

When I chose to make a lifestyle change, going from white potatoes to sweet potatoes really worked for me. It has been almost 2 years that I have indulged in white french fries...........I also stopped frying, which I didn't do much of anyway, but I constantly surf the net for good oven fried sweet potatoes and I found one that works well..........the last time I tried to eat a stuffed baked potato (medium), with broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, 1.5% (fat) honey ham and 1 oz (50%) reduced cheddar cheese and 1 tbs of Fleishman's, I felt sick for 3 days........it felt as if a brick was sitting in the middle of my stomach. after experiencing that, I knew that I could no longer eat white potatoes. I love my sweet potatoes baked and oven fried, for the fries I use less than 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and I use my own mixture of spices (cumin, cinnamon, onion/garlic powder and a little cayenne/chipotle season from Ms. Dash-I have a bottle with this mixture just for my sweet potatoes)

Thanks for the information, but it will not change my mind about going back to white pototates ever........... Report
So how much is 84 grams??
Why can't you list serving size in oz. or cups??? Report
I rarely do fries - period - just occasionally a few bites from my husband's when eating out. As far as the sweet potato / white potato controversy, I just did a nutrition comparison a few weeks ago, and to me, they really run pretty much neck and neck - I eat them both, mostly baked or cooked with the skins on. The biggest difference I see is on this website www.nutritiondata.self.com / which lists the glycemic and anti-inflammatory properties of foods. Sweet potatoes are only very slightly less glycemic; but white potatoes are inflammatory while sweet potatoes are anti-inflammatory. Report
Just love sweet potatoes and would take them over regular fries. I don't eat as many and feel the slightly higher nutrients make more sense (especial the Vit A). Report
I just love sweet potatoes!
Thanks for the comparison with regular fries. Report
Why did you compare frozen stuff that is loaded with other "stuff" that is not there if you make them from scratch? I still prefer to make them both from scratch. Report
I've tried to like sweet potatoes, fixed any which way, but just don't like them, mainly because they are sweet, I don't want sweet food with a regular meal. And they arn't good enough for a dessert, either. I fix them for my husband, otherwise, I eat regular potatoes when we go out, but not at home. Report
This is good to know as i wondered about this. Report
I Prefer Sweet Potato Fries Because Sweet Potatoes Are Healthier. I Prefer To Prepare Them Myself And I Do! I Am Also An Oven Sweet Potato Frie Maker. I Have Been Just Peeling(Yes They Are Not Organic)The Skin And Wrapping In Foil And Baking Them In The Oven. I Have Never Tasted A Better Sweet Potato Than That...Even With Added Sugar. To Me They Are Sweeter! Favorite Starchy Vegetable Always! :) Thanks For Sharing!!! Report
Both.....but crave sweet potato more... Report
I love sweet potato fries, but I make my own baked ones with just a bit of olive oil and chili powder and cumin, so I'm sure they are healthier & lower cal than the processed ore-idas. And if I am choosing to indulge in real fries, I'd much rather take the extra 30 calories and get more nutrients and flavor! Report
that's disappointing I had hoped that they were better for you - I have started to order less chips and more baked potatoes when I go to a restaurant. I even ordered FISH and a baked potato and the Sparkpeople tracker STILL swore at me !!! Report
I'm loving BAKED! Report
Good information. I like sweet potato fries better if baked, though, and feel they are lower on the glycemic index and I don't seem to get an insulin spike from sweet potatoes.

But I do think white potatoes are fine, too, as long as eaten in conjunction with a low gi food. Report
I appreciate the comparison. I recently received a bag of sweet potatoes from an acquaintances garden and I love preparing every which way, especially roasted, baked, steamed, sauteed, or in a pie.

For the sake of this comparison, I wish it had been labeled as "Ore Ida Golden Fries vs. Ore Ida Sweet Potato Fries", as it's not a good comparison of potatoes vs. sweet potatoes, as mentioned by others above/below. The fat and sodium levels, especially, are indicative of preparation (added salt, vegetable oil, etc.), rather than the 'potato.'

And, yes, quick and easy oven-baked-'fries' is definitely the way to go!

Thanks again for the blog post. Report
I was a little discouraged because my teenager doesn't like sweet potato fries, always orders regular potato fries. Then I made some baked spicy fries at home. He prefers them over all other fries! So do I and DH, so it's a no brainer for us. Of course, we're looking at more than just calories, and also considering glycemic index (sweet potatoes and yams are lower than regular potatoes), as well as nutrition. Report
This is why I just make my own baked "fries". They end up tasting better and are cheaper to make. Instead of salting them I toss with EVOO and rosemary or oregano. Amazing! Report
Thank you so much for this comparison. I suspected sweet potato fries would be just as many calories as regular fries but everybody was telling me that they were better for you. Now I find out they actually have MORE calories. They taste great, but I was right, you have to eat them in MODERATION ! Report