The Side Debate – Sweet Potato Fries, or French Fries?

The Side Debate – Sweet Potato Fries, or French Fries?

While fries will never be considered a health food, there are still options to consider if you’re concerned about your nutrition.

Are they baked? Are they fried? Are they homemade, or store-bought? Are sweet potato fries better than your traditional French fries?

Here’s what you need to know about the dueling fries, and which is ultimately better for your health. Food fight!

French Fries


Potatoes have a bad rap. They’re actually packed with beneficial nutrients, including fiber and potassium. The calories come in relatively low, at about 170 calories per whole potato. Based on that alone, it’s clear a sliced and roasted spud, with a touch of olive oil, can be a healthy side snack.

Going to your local grocery store’s freezer section for a bag of fries, every 3-ounce portion (about 12 pieces) contains 120 calories, five grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium. And you aren’t going to eat just 12 fries.

Fast-food fries can be even worse: a medium-sized order averages 400 calories, and 17 grams of fat. Depending on the seasoning, there’s an additional 300-1,200 milligrams of sodium.

Sweet Potato Fries


A medium sweet potato’s calorie count may surprise you – 183, thirteen calories more than the traditional spud. The orange variation is brimming with antioxidant-rich vitamin A, along with hefty doses of fiber and potassium. Generally, sweet potatoes have around 15 grams more carbohydrates per serving.

Comparing the three-ounce serving of sweet potatoes vs. regular ones, the sweet spuds contain 20 more calories, the same amount of fat, and typically less sodium than the regular fries. Sweet potatoes from restaurants fall in the 400-calorie weight class too, with fat content averaging at 20 grams – the sodium can quickly add up, too.

More Food for Thought

  • With similar nutrition profiles, the biggest difference between the side spuds is that sweet potatoes have much higher vitamin A and C levels.
  • Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic load and glycemic index than the alternative regular potato. This means your blood sugar rises higher with regular potatoes compared to the other kind.
  • To get the most nutrition out of any potato – especially when you’re dining out – look for baked, or even roasted options rather than fried. And instead of fries, a whole baked potato, of either type, is a more nutritious option, too!

Related: This is the Unhealthiest Meal You Can Get at an American Restaurant


The worst result in sports – it’s a tie. The debate shouldn’t be between these brotherly spuds, but how they should be prepared. From that perspective, there’s little difference between the two potatoes – choose what you prefer. But, if you can opt for homemade or baked fries of any kind, rather than the store-bought or restaurant-made variants, that’s always the healthier option.

“Once they’re fried, that all changes,” registered dietitian-nutritionist Karen Ansel, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life, tells Yahoo Health.

“When you compare a fried sweet potato to a baked sweet potato, its vitamin C and vitamin A content drops by more than 75 percent with frying. At the same time, they more than double in calories and soak up loads of fat.”

Photo Credit: Lisovskaya Natalia/; Alena Haurylik/; pilipphoto/

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