Recently tubers get high attention and popular among people as one of the good ingredients for making any kinds of food. It is a part of plant that enlarged the structures used as nutrients storage. The sweet taste and soft texture maybe one of the reason tubers are consumed a lot by people. Common plant species with stem tubers include potato and yam. Yet, yam in United States sometimes called as sweet potato.
Yam is native to Africa and Asia, with the majority of the crop coming from Africa. Yam has a cylindrical shape with blackish or brown, bark-like skin and white, purple, or reddish flesh. Yam leaves have a heart like in shape with a pointed tip. The taste of the leaves is less bitter than most green such as neem leaves. Its taste is mild in flavor with a taste similar to that of water spinach.
The name yam is derived from Portuguese inhame or Canarian (Spain), which might derived from West Africa languages. The meaning of the name is “to eat”.
Sweet Yam Leaves Nutrient Value
Comparing it with the values obtained from other leaves shows that Ipomoea Batatas leaves contain low fat contents. A diet providing 1-2% of its caloric of energy as fat is said to be sufficient to human beings as excess fat consumption is implicated in certain cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis, cancer and aging. (Aruah et al. 2011)
The leaves of Ipomoea Batatas reveal that it contains an appreciable amount of proteins, minerals, fat, fiber, carbohydrate, caloric values (energy), and low levels of intoxicants except for oxalate whose value can be reduced by cooking. Since it contains substantial amount of nutrients, it can therefore be concluded that Ipomoea Batatas leaves can contribute significantly to the nutrient requirements of man and should be recommended. Below are the detail nutrition of sweet yam leaves per 100 g.
- 118 kcal energy
- 27.9 g carbohydrates
- 0.5 g sugars
- 4.1 g dietary fibre
- 0.17 g fat
- 1.5 g protein
- 7 µg vitamin A
- 0.112 mg vitamin B1
- 0.032 mg vitamin B2
- 0.552 mg vitamin B3
- 0.314 mg vitamin B5
- 0.293 mg vitamin B6
- 23 µg folate (B9)
- 17.1 mg vitamin C
- 0.35 mg vitamin E
- 2.3 µg vitamin K
- 17 mg calcium (Ca)
- 0.54 mg iron (Fe)
- 21 mg magnesium (Mg)
- 0.397 mg manganese (Mn)
- 55 mg phosphorus (P)
- 816 mg potassium (K)
- 0.24 mg zinc (Zn)
Benefit of Sweet Yam Leaves for Health
From the rich nutritional contents of sweet yam leaves, apparently it can provide good health benefits for our body. It is a great source of antioxidants, riboflavin, fiber, iron, and various kinds of vitamins especially vitamin A and C. Comparing to other leafy greens, it possesses more dietary fiber and nutrients. Here are the health benefits sweet yam leaves:
- Heart ailments
By consuming sweet yam leaves whose has adequate amount of Vitamin K properties helps to maintain the healthy blood pressure and reduces the risk of having cardiac arrest. It can help to overcome anxiety and stress. In addition, it also will prevent the arteries calcification cause the heart attacks.
- Density of bones
Besides, preventing the arteries calcification from causing the heart attacks, vitamin K in sweet yam leaves also plays role in maintaining the calcium on bones and reducing the bone loss that cause osteoporosis. Specifically for postmenopausal women that vulnerable of suffering osteoporosis, sweet yam leaves could enhance the health of bones and lowers the chances of bone fractures. Moreover for the injured patients, it can prevent the sprained ankles and recovers the broken bones.
- Period pain (PMS)
The content of Vitamin K in sweet yam leaves can help to regulate the hormones function and lower the menstrual pains such as cramps. It is also useful for reducing the excessive bleeding during menstruation.
- Treats cancer
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide out of control and are able to attack other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of body through the blood and lymph system. Consuming sweet yam leaves will be useful to prevent normal cells into cancer cells because it contains beta-carotene, antioxidants, anti-cancerous properties, and vitamin C. Those contents are really helpful to cure various kinds of cancer especially colon, prostate, nasal, oral and stomach cancer. You may also read Benefits of Neem Tea (The Indian Healer)
- Treats bruises and swelling
Vitamin K promotes the clotting of blood which helps to recover the cuts and bruises quickly. If you experience bruises and swelling due to being hit or other things, put the sweet yam leaves on the bruises or swelling parts as a compress.
- Brain health
Consuming sweet yam leaves regularly can prevent the brain from oxidative stress which is free radical damage because of its Vitamin K properties. Oxidative stress damages the cells and contributes to the Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease as well as heart failure.
- Gum health
For those who often suffers from gum or teeth problems is better to consume sweet yam leaves. Cavities and gum problems are the result of the food low intake in Vitamin C, A, D and K. Sweet yam leaves plays a vital role in the mineralization of teeth and bones. It is rich in minerals and vitamins that helps to eliminate the bacteria present in the mouth and teeth. It also maintains the strong teeth by providing adequate amount of minerals.
- Eye health maintenance
Sweet yam leaves are known to have good carotene properties for our eye stay healthy. Besides carotene, it also contains Vitamin A that prevent macular degeneration which is the major cause for blindness. The study shows that the intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, zinc, Vitamin E and copper helps to reduce the chances of macular degeneration by 25%.
- Reduce inflammation
Inflammation often happens to any of us. When we experience inflammation, we could overcome it by consuming sweet yam leaves. Sweet yam leaves possesses antioxidant properties which eradicated free radicals from the body that damages the cells and tissues. Besides that it contains vitamin A which will reduce the chances of food allergies and prevents the harmful overreaction.
It lowers the inflammation which helps to reduce the chances of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The high beta carotene content in sweet potato is plays the main role as anti-inflammatory compound that acts as a natural painkiller. You can eat it steamed, or juiced to benefit from its painkilling properties.
- Regulates blood glucose levels
Sweet yam leaves are good for diabetic consumption. Sweet leaves contain a very good blood sugar regulator that helps to stabilize and lower insulin resistance.
- Promote a healthy gut
Experiencing gastrointestinal distress (GI distress) including nausea and vomiting is never fun. And if you don’t want to take any chemical medicine to take care of it, you could consume sweet yam leaves. The significant amount of dietary fiber, especially when eaten with the skin, helps to promote a healthy digestive tract, relieving constipation and also helps prevent colon cancer.
- Treats ulcers
The benefits of sweet yam leaves for our health can also be demonstrated by overcoming ulcers. Ulcers are red bumps on the skin than contains pus. Ones who experience ulcers will say that it is very painful. To overcome it, heat a sweet yam leaves and put it on your ulcers. It might feel quite pain, but this will quickly drain the ulcers.
- Treats Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF)
DHF can be a very dangerous disease if it’s not handled quickly. It causes the thrombocytes in the body keep decreasing. The only way to cure this ailment is by returning the amount of thrombocyte back to normal. For DHF patients are suggested to consume the boiled water of sweet yam leaves to get the normal amount of thrombocyte.
- Relieves fever
Another benefit of sweet yam leaves is able to ease fever. Boil it with water then consume it when you have fever, you will feel way much better and the fever soon will be ease.
- Prevents hangover while travelling
You are the kind of person who get hangover easily when travelling? Consume sweet yam leaves by chewing it during trip is good to ease nausea and vomiting problems.
- Treats farsighted (hyperopia/hypermetropia)
Myopic ayes are a condition caused by decreased eye vision ability. This myopic state can be treated and improved eyesight by consuming sweet yam leaves. Boil sweet yam leaves with water, add some honey then drink the boiled water of the leaves.
- Treats cough and cold
No matter how old we are, we could suffer from coughs and colds. Don’t be too quick to take chemical medicine because apparently, the problem of coughs and runny nose can be solved by utilizing the vitamin contents of sweet yam leaves.
- Treats sore throat
Not only able to treat cough and cold, sweet yam leaves are also able to be useful for treating sore throat. Sore throat happens when the bacterial infections attack the throat and cause inflammation. Sore throat can be so annoying because it can make us feel pain when we are eating. That’s why it is advised to consume the decoction of sweet yam leaves to treat sore throat.
- Overcome worms in kids
It’s common to find worms in kids aged 5-10 years. If your child has an itchy bottom, it could be the sign of worms. When the children show the symptoms of intestinal worms, it should be immediately treated. One of the ways to overcome this problem is by consuming the decoction of sweet yam leaves.
- Treat diabetes mellitus
It is a dangerous disease and from this disease could cause complications. It is a disease in which the body cannot produce insulin (blood sugar regulating hormone) or the insulin produced is not sufficient enough or does not work properly. As the result, it will cause the blood sugar arise. Yet, this disease can be treated by consuming sweet yam leaves that will control the blood sugar. Sweet yam leaves can be consumed by drinking its decoction water or by eating it as lalapan. Indeed, that’s all health benefits sweet yam leaves.
There are some ways to consume sweet yam leaves for our health purpose.
- The first is make it into decoction that is by boiling the leaves with water and then drink it.
- Sweet yam leaves can also be steamed or fried. Sauté the leaves with sesame oil and ginger. And then season with pepper and salt. Besides it, it is fine to use soy sauce and garlic. Do not sauté the leaves too long, because it will reduce the nutritional contents.
- Consuming the raw leaves or leafy greens (as lalapan) by adding it to the salads.
- The last is by use it directly putting on the part of body that needed it after the leaves are boiled. For instance, to ease inflammation, bruise, and swelling.
Precautions and Warnings
Although sweet yam leaves provide a lot benefits for our health, but we should still consider some things before we consume it. Unlike cassava, that the most varieties of it are edible, mature, cultivated and do not contain toxic compounds.
However, there are exceptions. Bitter compounds tent to accumulate in immature tubers tissues of white and yellow yams. These may be polyphenols or tannin compounds. Some bitter tubers such as wild forms of bitter yams contain toxins. Thus, it is called as bitter yam. Normally, bitter yam should not be consumed unless in urgent condition like lack of food supply.
The bitter compounds in the bitter yams are water soluble alkaloids which if it is consumed, produce severe and distressing symptoms. The worst cases of alkaloid intoxication may cause fatal. Despite the health benefits sweet yam leaves, also pay attention to its cautions!