Speaking of healthy living, people are striving to look for solution so they could get all the nutrients from food they consume with minimum side effects. Simple example, carbohydrate is one of the important compounds to produce energy but the side effect like weight gain and diabetes caused by too much glucose from carbohydrate are what people worry about. The solution are either they should find easy replacement of carbohydrate or avoid it in all cost.
Well, avoid it is not the solution that is recommended because no matter what, human body needs carbohydrate for energy. That’s why finding food that could provide carbohydrate with minimum side effect is the only solution available. Yams are one example of food which is high in carbohydrate but also higher in dietary fiber. Those combinations will give you all the benefits of carbohydrate while the dietary fiber will suppress the side effect like weight gain and diabetes.
What are Yams?
Don’t mistaken yams with sweet potatoes because though they look similar but they are coming from completely different family. If sweet potatoes belong to genus Convolvulaceae, yams belong to Dioscoreae. So, though yams are vegetables, they are included in the group of flower plants, so they are closer to lilies than any potatoes plants you know.
Yams are originated from Africa and Asia but now the highest producer of yams are from Nigeria. There are more than 600 varieties of yams are cultivated in both Africa and Asia with different shapes, colors and tastes. However, perhaps you have found some varieties are easy to find in the market because they are the tastiest ones.
Popular Varieties of Yams:
What makes some varieties of yams are more popular than the others are based on the taste and sometimes also the colors.
- White Yams (Dioscorea rotundata) have cylindrical in shape but brown and smooth skin texture with white and firm flesh.
- Yellow Yams (Dioscorea cayenensis) have similar look likes the white yams but because of the presence of carotenoids, the flesh color is yellow instead of white.
- Purple Yams (Dioscorea alata) have been recently popular in Asia due to its distinctive purple color of the flesh. The shape is much similar to sweet potatoes and the second popular after the white yams. The other names of purple yams are water yams.
- Chinese Yams (Dioscorea polystachyaI) are originated from China. Though Chinese yams are similar in shape and taste with the other types of yams but they could be grown in much cooler temperature, that’s why this variety are mostly cultivated around China, Japan and Korea.
Actually there are more varieties of yams like air yams (Dioscorea bulbifera) which is popular in America, yesser yam (Dioscorea esculenta) which is not largely cultivated in Southeast Asia, bitter yam (Dioscorea dumetorum) which is popular vegetables in West Africa and many more.
Nutritional Values of Yams
As mentioned above that yams are excellent substitutes for carbohydrate to boost energy because it is also rich of fiber that could assist in suppressing the negative effect of glucose extracted from carbohydrate.
Serving Size: 100 grams
|– Sugar||0.5 g|
|– Dietary Fiber||4.1 g|
|Vitamin A||7µg – 1%|
|Vitamin B1 – Thiamine||0.112 mg – 10%|
|Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin||0.032 mg – 3%|
|Vitamin B3 – Niacin||0.552 mg – 4%|
|Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid||0.314 mg – 6%|
|Vitamin B6||0.293 mg – 23%|
|Folate||23 µg – 6%|
|Vitamin C||17.1 mg – 21%|
|Vitamin E||0.35 mg – 2%|
|Vitamin K||2.3 µg – 2%|
|Calcium||17 mg – 2%|
|Iron||0.54 mg – 4%|
|Magnesium||21 mg – 6%|
|Manganese||0.379 mg – 19%|
|Phosphorus||55 mg – 8%|
|Potassium||816 mg – 17%|
|Zinc||0.24 mg – 3%|
As mentioned above, yams are packed with certain nutrients that are beneficial for human health and below are the health benefits of yams that will open your eyes, how this humble food could provide so many benefits to your healthy lifestyle.
One of the compounds found in yams are folate or vitamin B9. It is common knowledge that folate is great for pregnancy because it supports the optimal development of fetus inside the womb especially in the first three semesters. However, it is not the only benefits you could get:
- Recommended for Pregnancy
During the first three semesters a pregnant mother should make sure to consume foods rich of nutrients to support the early stage of fetus’ development. Folate is essential for brain and nerve system as well as red blood cells.
- Cures Morning Sickness
Not all pregnant mothers are suffering from morning sickness. According to researches, morning sickness is much more about psychological matter but still dealing with it is not easy. To ease up the symptoms, yams contains minerals that will assist in relieve the nausea and prevent the vomiting.
- Keeps Strong Bones during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, calcium is essential for the fetus’ development especially for bones developments. That’s why a pregnant mother should make sure they consume enough calcium like in yams or the stock of calcium in bones will be used to support the fetus development.
Also read: Health Benefits of Carrot during Pregnancy
- Prevents Baby Born with Birth Defect
There are a lot of factors that could cause a baby born with birth defect but the top one is when during the fetus development, there is no enough red blood cells in the mother’s body. As rich of minerals, especially iron, yams are highly recommended to be consumed during pregnancy.
- Reduces the Symptoms of Premenstrual Disorder
Most women must have known how annoying premenstrual disorder is. Well, yams contain some vitamins and minerals that could assist in reducing the symptoms.
- Health Benefits of Baked Potatoes
- Health Benefits of Brinjal during Pregnancy
- Health Benefits of Edamame during Pregnancy
- Provides Vital Supplements for Menopausal Women
After menopause, women will feel different about themselves. The lack of vitamin B6 and hormonal imbalance could lead to depression. However, yams contain some properties that could replace some hormones that are no longer produced after menopause.
- Prevents Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance is not an easy condition to deal with. This condition mostly occurs in women after menopause because body is no longer able to produce a certain hormones that are essential. However, yams contain certain enzymes that could replace those hormones to prevent the worst case of hormonal imbalance condition.
Yams Are Good for Digestion System
Chinese always believe that stomach is the center of everything. If you want to be healthy, eat good food, if you want to cure problems, find foods that good for your stomach. Yams are one of those foods that are good for digestion system.
- Aids Digestion
Fiber is essential to aid digestion system to work and function optimally. Fiber will make sure excessive and unnecessary properties that could disturb the digestion process will be eliminated completely.
Also read: Health Benefits of Fiber
- Improves Bowel Habits
The combination of fiber that will clean up the bowel and potassium that will encourage the muscle contraction inside the intestine will improve the bowel movement to promote healthy metabolism.
- Optimizes the Nutrients Absorption
Because of a certain factors, all nutrients extracted from foods you consume cannot be absorbed optimally. However, with healthy metabolism and healthy bowel movement could optimize the nutrient absorption so body will get all the nutrients required.
- Treats Constipations Naturally
Unhealthy bowel movement caused by some unnecessary properties and waste could cause constipations. Yams are relatively rich of dietary fiber that could treat constipations naturally.
- Beats IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Potassium is essential to beat IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. This condition occurs when bowel movement is disturbed in a long time.
Also read: Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Yams Are Essential for Skin Health
Women are so obsess with healthy skin because it is not only about appearance but healthy skin will represents how healthy human body from the inside it. That’s why for optimal treatment, you cannot just only taking care of your skin from the surface but also from the inside.
- Natural Anti-aging
Premature aging is the direct effect of free radicals. Yams are rich of antioxidants that will make sure the optimal process of cells regeneration and at the same time fight free radicals to slow down the aging process.
- Promotes the Production of Collagen
Collagen is essential to keep skin firm, elastic and healthy. Yams are rich of vitamin C which is essential to the production of collagen as well as some powerful antioxidants to make sure the collagen stock is enough.
- Stimulates Healthy Scalp
Healthy hair is coming from healthy scalp. Sometimes people forget about that fact. As rich of iron, yams could make sure even your scalp is perfectly oxygenated and hydrated.
- Accelerates Wound Healing in Skin
The wound healing process is never short and even after the wound is perfectly cured; you still need to suffer from the scar caused by damaged skin. Collagen and vitamin C are essential to accelerate the healing as well as giving back your perfect and spotless skin.
Also read: Health Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Skin
- Natural Face Packs
How much money you should spend for face mask? Well, now you could make your own face packs by using boiled yams and honey. After the boiled yams become tender and easy to be mashed, let them to cool down first. Add honey to the mashed yams and apply them to your face. It is an easy solution for brighter and healthier face.
Also read: Health Benefits of Honey
Yams as Natural Source of Minerals
If you want to have healthy heart, you have to consume foods that are rich of minerals and yams are one of those in the top of the list.
- Reduces the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Potassium is essential for cardiovascular health because it could get rid of the excess sodium in the blood stream and promotes healthy heart. Surely you have known that excess sodium will lead to hypertension and those who are suffering hypertension will face higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Promotes Healthy Blood Vessels
Minerals like potassium and manganese are good for blood vessels but the combination of minerals and vitamin B6 makes yams are super healthy food for blood vessels. Vitamin B6 is contributing in eliminating a certain property well known as homocysteine that is harmful for blood vessels.
- Controls Blood Pressure
Those who are currently suffering from hypertension and find it hard to control blood pressure, perhaps consuming yams regularly in daily basis could assist in reducing the risk of getting spike. Potassium found in yams is good to control the heart rate while avoiding all kind of foods that could increase the blood pressure.
- Prevents the Spike of Cholesterol
Potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin B6 are the perfect combination to prevent the spike of cholesterol level. Potassium and vitamin B6 will make sure healthy blood vessels and prevent the accumulation of blood clot while dietary fiber will bind the excess cholesterol to be washed off.
Also read: Foods that Lower Cholesterol Level
- Fights Anemia
Anemia occurs when body is not getting enough red blood cells. To fight this condition is quite easy like consuming foods that are rich of iron and other minerals that could promote the production of red blood cells. Fortunately, yams are packed with nutrition that could help you fighting anemia.
Also read: Symptoms of Anemia
- Improves Blood Flow or Circulation
Minerals contains in yams are able to improve the blood flow and circulation by promoting healthy blood vessels so the distribution process is not disturbed. Healthy blood circulation will affect the body metabolism as well as oxygen distribution through the cells.
- Promotes the Production of RBC
Do you want to be healthy? Well, the easiest way is making sure to have healthy metabolism. Healthy body metabolism is depending on whether all cells in your body is optimally oxygenated or not. Oxygen distribution is depending on the amount of hemoglobin contained in red blood cells. So, consuming yams that could help you promoting the production of RBC is highly recommended for you who want to have a healthy lifestyle.
More Benefits of Yams
Actually there are more health benefits of yams that people are not aware of aside from its good taste and rich of nutrients.
- Cures Respiratory Problems
This kind of knowledge has been well known since ancient time by the Chinese that yams could cure respiratory problem. Though some studies are still required to support this opinion.
- Excellent Food for Brain
Some studies have found the relation between yams and memory booster. It is due to mineral contents found in yams are great for brain.
- Enhances Immunity
The combinations of vitamin A, vitamin C which is essential antioxidants and minerals that could promote the production of RBC are perfect to enhance immunity system and provide protection that is essential to human body.
Also read: Vitamin C 1000 mg Benefits
- Natural Energy Booster
Surely you have known that all foods rich of carbohydrate are natural energy booster and yams are what you need to boost your energy in daily basis.
- Solution to Weight Loss
Many people have decided to avoid carbohydrate for this exact reason when the fact is carbohydrate is essential for energy booster. Yams contain carbohydrate but they also contain fiber that good to control weight loss. Besides, yams are low calories food.
- Sources of Antioxidants
There are some types of antioxidants that could be produced by human body but the amount would not be enough. That’s why consuming foods rich of antioxidants is highly recommended and you could add yams to your daily diet for this reason.
- Prevents Cancer
All foods that are rich of antioxidants are good to prevent the development of cancerous cells and yams are not the exception.
- Resistances to Infectious Agents
To fight infectious agents are quite easy as long as you have perfect protection in your immune system. Vitamin C and minerals are essential to make sure your immunity system is totally in perfect condition. It also applies to viral infection.
- Regulates the Blood Sugar Level
The complex carbohydrates found in yams will be released in the blood stream in gradual rate to be turned into energy whenever required. This condition will assist in regulating the blood sugar level and prevent the spike.
Also read: Best Vegetables for Type 2 Diabetes
- Improves Cognitive Ability
Some researchers have shown that patients with cognitive problem could boost it condition by consuming yams in daily basis. It is because the minerals content and some omega 3 fatty acid found in yams could improve cognitive ability.
- Good for Vision
Varieties of yams like yellow and purple yams contained carotenoids that could act as pro vitamin A that is totally good for vision and then supported by minerals to make sure healthy vision even during senior age.
Also read: Health Benefits of Beta Carotene
Cautions of Yams
Compared to the health benefits of yams, the cautions of yams are so little because though this kind of vegetable is packed with nutrients but the value are not going to cause you any side effects that harmful for human health, as long as you consume it in moderate amount. However, some cautions below should be taken into account as well.
- If there are some conditions like nausea, vomiting and headache occur after consuming yams, perhaps you are allergic to this kind of food though the case is very rare.
- Don’t consume yams raw, though there are some varieties are safe to be consumed raw. However, to be in the safe side is better to cook yaws first because some varieties are very toxic when they are consumed raw.
- Yams are relatively rich in minerals as well as protein, those who have problems with their kidney should really careful in consuming yaws especially in the serving size.
- Wild yams contain some properties that could cause birth control ineffective.
- Breastfeeding mother is better to avoid wild yaws in all cost but some more varieties are safe to consume in moderate amount.
The best thing about yams is as vegetables they are so many ways you could do to cook them. You could boil, grill, mash, bake, fry, roast or whatever cooking style you know. Furthermore, yams are easy to store because as long as you don’t peel them, you could keep them in room temperature for several weeks, though fresh yams are always the best.