This article about the health benefits of yams deals with the common or white yam. However, many other edible tubers bear the name “yam:”
- Other species of the genus Dioscorea.
- Jicama, a tuber like the yam of the botanical family Convolvulaceae.
- Taro and Tania of the botanical family Araceae, which are found in Southeast Asia.
Health Benefits of Yams
Common or white yams and other similar tubers called yams are a staple food in many tropical regions because of their carbohydrate richness in the form of starch (twenty-three percent). Though they involve much effort to grow and are comparatively poor in proteins (1.53 percent), the yam is gradually being replaced by sweet potatoes and sweet cassava.
The yam contains considerable energy and moderate amounts of B group vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals, among which potassium is significant. However, yams lack provitamin A.
It has been proven that the yam contains a steroid that prevents the peroxidation of blood lipids (the primary cause of arteriosclerosis) and lowers the triglycerides, a kind of fat in the blood. All of this, collectively with their low-fat substance and richness in potassium, makes yams very suitable for cardiovascular ailments, particularly arteriosclerosis.
Yams Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Dioscorea alata L.
- French: Igname.
- Spanish: Ńame, Papa, Batata de China.
- German: Yamswurzel.
- Description: Tubers of various vines of the genus Dioscorea, particularly ‘Dioscorea alata’ L., all belonging to the botanical family Dioscoreaceae. The types of yams differ in shape, size, and color, but they most commonly weigh between 2 and 5 kilos and have whitish flesh.
- Environment: Yams are grown in tropical regions. They are cultivated primarily in West Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia.
How to use and Prepare Yams
- Raw – Although mature yams may be eaten raw, this is not recommended when unripe since they contain tiny amounts of toxins that disappear when heated. This toxic substance is found primarily in wild yams and causes digestive disturbances.
- Cooked – Yams can be baked, boiled, or fried like potatoes. In west Africa, cooked yams are used to prepare a much-appreciated type of puree.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods, and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 101. Print. [Health Benefits of Yams]