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On its own, the humble potato is not too exciting. But when cut into sticks and deep-fried, the unassuming tuber becomes the lauded french fries, which are perhaps America’s most popular side dish. Since you’ll likely crave fries at some point, we set out to find which is healthier: the regular kind or sweet potato variety.
In terms of calories, carbs, fiber, and protein, “they are quite similar,” says Amy Goodson, a sports dietitian in Dallas who has worked with the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas rangers. Both fry types are loaded with potassium, and sweet potatoes provide a healthy dose of the antioxidant beta-carotene. So it’s less about which fries you choose and more about how you prepare them.
“Keeping the skin on is a good idea, since thats where some of the fiber is found,” Goodson says. “Frying causes food to soak up more oil, but if roasted or baked, fries can be a great side dish and fairly healthy. The key things are your portion size and what you eat them with.”
If you’re really looking for a healthy side, try another vegetable or a salad. But don’t assume that baked potatoes are any better than fries, especially if they’re loaded with butter and sour cream.
Since both types of fries provide similar nutrition, choose your favorite—just eat it in moderation. Pressed to pick one, Goodson gives sweet potatoes the nod for their beta-carotene.
Lastly, ditch the ketchup. Instead, combine a packet of powdered Ranch mix with Greek yogurt for some added protein.
Sweet potato fries!