Potatoes vs Bread: (Nutrition Comparison)


Potatoes and bread are both staple carbohydrate-rich foods in many countries.

With this post, I want to help you answer the question of which one is healthier or which is better for your specific dietary situation.

We’ll look at a detailed breakdown of nutrients in white potatoes, sweet potatoes, white bread, and whole wheat bread.

All the data comes from the USDA. Note that the USDA only has flour made with enriched (fortified) flour in their database, although that’s the kind typically used in supermarket bread.

Macronutrient Profiles of Potatoes and Bread

Let’s start with the macronutrients of these foods.

Obviously different brands and varieties will have slightly different values, but this general data is still fine for a basic comparison.

All data is per 100 grams of cooked food (baked without oil in the case of potatoes).

  White Potatoes Sweet Potatoes White Bread Whole Wheat Bread
Energy (kcal) 92 90 238 254
Protein (g) 2.1 2.0 10.7 12.3
Total Lipid (g) 0.2 0.2 2.2 3.6
Carbohydrate (g) 21.1 20.7 43.9 43.1
Fiber (g) 2.1 3.3 3 6.0
Sugars (g) 1.5 6.5 5.0 4.4

There are some big differences between these macro profiles:

  • Bread is much higher in calories
  • Bread has about twice as much protein per calorie as potatoes
  • Bread is also higher in fat
  • Per calorie, potatoes are slightly higher in carbohydrates and fiber than bread
  • Bread has a higher amount of simple carbohydrates (digest quickly), including sugar.

The main difference between white and whole wheat bread is that white bread is lower in fiber.

Vitamins and Minerals

Past the macronutrients, we can also look at the vitamins and minerals in potatoes and bread.

I’ll mention it again – this data is for fortified bread, meaning that a bunch of extra nutrients (mainly minerals) are added to it. You can still absorb these, so there’s no big issue with eating fortified foods, but brands can have significant variation.

These are roughly sorted in order of the maximum amount of RDA that a food can provide.

  RDA White Potatoes Sweet Potatoes White Bread Whole Wheat Bread
Vitamin A (µg) 900 1.0 961.0 0.0 0.0
Manganese (mg) 2.3 0.2 0.5 0.6 2.2
Calcium (mg) 1200 10.0 38.0 684.0 163.0
Selenium (µg) 55 0.5 0.2 16.1 25.8
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.0 0.1 0.5 0.4
Sodium (mg) 1500 7.0 36.0 478.0 450.0
Folate (µg) 400 38.0 6.0 127.0 42.0
Phosphorus (mg) 700 75.0 54.0 103.0 212.0
Niacin (mg) 16 1.5 1.5 4.5 4.4
Potassium (mg) 2000 544.0 475.0 127.0 250.0
Iron (mg) 18 0.6 0.7 4.9 2.6
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.2
Vitamin C (mg) 90 12.6 19.6 0.0 0.0
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.0 0.1 0.3 0.2
Magnesium (mg) 400 27.0 27.0 26.0 76.6
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.0 0.7 0.4 2.8
Zinc (mg) 11 0.4 0.3 1.0 1.8
Vitamin K (µg) 75 2.7 2.3 7.7 N/A
Choline (mg) 550 14.4 13.1 8.1 27.2
Copper (mg) 900 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2
Vitamin D (µg) 15 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A

While not fortified, potatoes still have significantly more:

  • Vitamin A (sweet potatoes only)
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • VItamin B-6

Overall, potatoes have a more balanced and complete nutritional profile. This really only matters if you plan on eating a lot of only one of these foods for a long time.

On the other hand, bread has significantly more:

  • Manganese
  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Folate
  • Sodium (not really a good thing)

While we do need sodium, most people get too much to begin with, so having more sodium in foods like bread can actually be bad.

Are Potatoes or Bread Cheaper Per Nutrient?

If you’re buying store-bought potatoes and bread, potatoes cost less per calorie. A bread like Wonder Bread costs about $0.20 per 100 calories, while potatoes are about $0.10 per 100 calories.

However, this depends on your location and if you’re buying in bulk. You can also make bread at home and potentially save more, although the same could be said for growing potatoes.

Are Potatoes or Bread Better for Bodybuilding?

For bodybuilders that are struggling to eat enough, bread is better than potatoes. Bread has about 2.5 times as many calories per 100 grams. It also has less fiber, part of why it’s less filling than potatoes are. In addition, bread has about 2 times as much protein per calories as potatoes.

If you’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of bread protein, see this seitan amino acid profile summary.

Are Potatoes or Bread Better for Weight Loss?

Potatoes are significantly lower in calories and much more filling than bread, meaning that potatoes are typically better for weight loss.

However, it depends on how you eat each food. Slathering butter onto potatoes will add a huge amount of calories, which will hinder weight loss.

If you enjoyed this comparison, you might also find our potatoes vs rice comparison useful as well.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.