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Posted by on May 11, 2020 in TellMeWhy |

What Is a Yam and Why Is It Good for Us?

What Is a Yam and Why Is It Good for Us?

Yam is the swollen, tuber-like root of a climbing plant which is grown for food in many of the warmer parts of the world. Yams (Dioscorea) originated in Asia, Africa, and the Carribean. They’re often mistaken for sweet potatoes. However, yams are less sweet and more starchy. The root contains mainly starch. Yam tubers can grow up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in length and weigh up to 70 kg (154 lb) and 3 to 6 inches high.

The vegetable has a rough skin which is difficult to peel, but which softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink. They have a bark-like exterior. The flesh depending on the maturity of the majority of the vegetable is composed of a much softer substance known as the “meat”.

This substance ranges in color from white or yellow to purple or pink in ripe yams. These tubers are highly nutritious, versatile, and may benefit your health in many ways. Yams are a primary agricultural commodity in West Africa and New Guinea. They were first cultivated in Africa and Asia about 8000 BC.

Due to their abundance and consequently, their importance to survival, the yam was highly regarded in Nigerian ceremonial culture and used as a vegetable offered during blessings. The tubers can be stored up to six months without refrigeration, which makes them a valuable resource for the yearly period of food scarcity at the beginning of the wet season.

Here are few health and nutrition benefits of yams.

*Yams are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They’re particularly rich in potassium, manganese, copper, and vitamin C.

*Yams contain a unique compound called diosgenin, which may enhance memory and brain function.

*Yams may help alleviate symptoms of menopause. Still, the evidence is mixed, and more studies are needed to support these claims.

*Animal and test-tube studies suggest that the antioxidants in yams may have anticancer effects. Still, human studies are lacking.

*The rich antioxidant content of yams helps reduce inflammation related to various diseases. However, more human research is needed to confirm these results.

*Several animal studies have found that yams improve blood sugar control. The effects are thought to be due to their rich resistant starch and dietary fiber contents.

*Due to the nutrient density of yams, eating them is associated with a number of health benefits, including weight loss, antimicrobial effects, and improved digestive health and cholesterol levels.

*Yams are nutritious, versatile, and easy to prepare, making them a great ingredient to cook with.


Content for this question contributed by Carol Cicero, resident of Slingerlands, Albany County, New York, USA