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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Therapeutic Value of Different Foods >>  Vegetables >>  Yams


Yams are members of Dioscoreae family and common types of yams include Hawaiian yams, Korean yams and sweet yams. Yams have a firm and starchy taste with minimum amount of sweetness when cooked. Yams are often confused with sweet potatoes, as sometimes they have similar shape or color. Yams are available in around 200 different varieties and have a thick skin which can be white, pink or brownish black with flesh color ranging from white to ivory to yellow to purple. They have rough and scaly outer texture and can come in long and cylindrical shape.

Health and yams

  1. Yams are considered as a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber.
  2. Vitamin B6 is required by the body for the metabolism of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke irrespective of the cholesterol levels in the body. This high intake of vitamin B6 from yams may prove beneficial for people with cardiovascular disease.
  3. The tendency to eat less fruits and vegetables and more sodium rich foods in many individuals have increased the ratio of high blood pressure in the current century. Yams are a good source of potassium, a mineral which helps to control blood pressure.
  4. Yams have unique substances called steroidal saponins which have chemicals called diosgenins. These chemicals have an impact on the hormonal levels of women and may prove beneficial to control the menopausal symptoms and lower the risk of osteoporosis in susceptible woman.
  5. Yams are good source of dietary fiber and this along with complex carbohydrates slows the rate at which sugars are released and delivered to the bloodstream. Moreover as they are high in fiber, they help people for weight control as they give the feeling of fullness.
  6. Yams are also good source of manganese that is a trace mineral required for carbohydrate metabolism and a cofactor for number of enzymes important in antioxidant defense and energy metabolism.
Select yams correctly and don’t confuse them with sweet potatoes while buying. Choose fresh and firm yams without any cracks and bruises or soft spots and if stored them in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place then they can remain fresh for up to ten days. Yams can be eaten alone or can be added to a variety of vegetables and soups to enhance taste. Regarding its safety, it doesn’t come in the list of common allergic foods, goitrogens, oxalates or purines.
Submitted on January 16, 2014