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Sweet Potatoes vs Carrots: Amount of Beta-Carotene and Other Nutrients

Sweet Potatoes vs Carrots

Both orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and carrots are known for being rich in beta-carotene, but how do these two root vegetables fare when matched against each other? Which one is the ultimate beta-carotene champion? Below, we compare the beta-carotene content of sweet potatoes and carrots, plus provide the amounts of other key nutrients found in each to give you an idea of how these two powerhouse veggies stack up in terms of overall nutritional value.

Sweet Potatoes with Dark Orange Flesh Trump Carrots in Terms of Beta-Carotene Content

No question about it, carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, but they are hardly the only vegetable source of this vitamin-A precursor. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, for example, contain tons of this vital nutrient that we have come to associate with carrots. In fact, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes contain so much beta-carotene that they could be used as an effective long-term strategy for controlling vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

But exactly how much beta-carotene do orange-fleshed sweet potatoes contain?

To answer this question, a group of researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set to analyze the beta-carotene content of a number of orange-fleshed sweet potato genotypes, along with some white, yellow and purple-fleshed genotypes. Their study, which appeared in the journal Food Chemistry, found that in genotypes with light orange flesh, the amount of beta-carotene ranged from 11.8 mcg/g to 29.8 mcg/g on a fresh weight basis, which is a decent amount but not comparable to the amount of beta-carotene found in carrots. By contrast sweet potatoes with darker orange flesh were found to contain up to 226 micrograms of beta-carotene per 1 gram, or 22.6 milligrams per a 100-gram serving. By way of comparison, carrots provide about 83 micrograms of beta-carotene per 1 gram, according to the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 27).

So, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, especially those with the darkest flesh, are clearly a good source of beta-carotene, but what about white, yellow and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes? How much beta-carotene do they contain?

The nutritional analysis conducted for the USDA study suggests that white sweet potatoes are not a good source of beta-carotene, which is not surprising considering that beta-carotene is a plant pigment that, in the absence of other plant pigments, gives vegetables and fruits orange hues. Several purple-fleshed genotypes analyzed for this study, by contrast, contained a lot of beta-carotene, although not quite as much as carrots. However, in purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, the beta-carotene is masked by the presence of purple flavonoid pigments known as anthocyanins.

Comparison: Nutritional Value of Sweet Potatoes vs Carrots

We have now established that both (orange-fleshed) sweet potatoes and carrots are good sources of beta-carotene, but how do they stack up against each other in terms of other nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), iron and manganese? To help you compare the overall nutritional value of carrots and sweet potatoes, we put together a handy nutrition facts chart that provides an overview of some of the key nutrients found in these two root vegetables. The chart includes both the absolute amounts per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of boiled and drained carrots/sweet potatoes, as well as the corresponding Percent Daily Values where applicable (shown in brackets).

Sweet potato Carrot
Calories 76 kcal 35 kcal
Water 80.1g 90.2g
Protein 1.37g (3%) 0.76g (2%)
Fat 0.14g 0.18g
Carbs 8.3g (3%) 8.2g (3%)
Fiber 2.5g (10%) 3g (12%)

Vitamin Sweet potato Carrot
Thiamin 0.056mg (4%) 0.066mg (4%)
Riboflavin 0.047mg (3%) 0.044mg (3%)
Niacin 0.538mg (3%) 0.645mg (3%)
Pyridoxine 0.165mg (8%) 0.153mg (8%)
Cobalamin 0mg (0%) 0mg (0%)
Vitamin C 12.8mg (21%) 3.6mg (6%)
Vitamin E 0.94mg (5%) 1.03mg (5%)
Mineral Sweet potato Carrot
Calcium 27mg (3%) 30mg (3%)
Copper 0.094mg (5%) 0.017mg (1%)
Iron 0.72mg (4%) 0.34 (2%)
Magnesium 18mg (5%) 10mg (3%)
Manganese 0.266 mg (13%) 0.155 (8%)
Molybdenum NA NA
Phosphorus 32mg (3%) 30mg (3%)
Potassium 230mg (7%) 235mg (7%)
Sodium 27mg (1%) 58mg (2%)
Zinc 0.2mg (1%) 0.2mg (1%)

The absolute amounts in the nutrition facts tables above are based on data from the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 27). The percent Daily Values or %DV have been calculated by and are based on recommendations for a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be different depending on your individual needs.

Book You May Like
Roots, Cookbook In Roots, acclaimed culinary expert and author Diane Morgan takes us on an eye-opening tour of the world of roots and tubers, the underdogs of the vegetable world. From old friends like beets, carrots and radishes to the more unfamiliar burdock root, jicama and salsify, this comprehensive reference book covers the full spectrum of root vegetables. But it is much more than just a culinary encyclopedia: this award-winning book is also a 225-plus recipe cornucopia jam-packed with mouthwatering recipes showcasing both familiar and unfamiliar root vegetabes. Whether you're looking for rooty salads, soups, side dishes, main courses, drinks or desserts, this is the book to turn to. Available here from Amazon.