11 Health And Nutrition Benefits Of Eating Yams }{ The Scoper Media 


Yam tubers. Picture: Olugbenga AdeOluwa.

Yams are nutritious vegetables containing both macro- and micronutrients. They may have many health benefits, including relieving symptoms of menopause and lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Yams (Dioscorea) are a type of tuber vegetable that originated in Asia, Africa, and the Carribean 

They’re often mistaken for sweet potatoes. However, yams are less sweet and more starchy.

They have a distinct brown, bark-like exterior. The flesh can be white, yellow, purple, or pink depending on the maturity of the yam.

These tubers are highly nutritious, versatile, and may benefit your health in many ways.




1. Packed with nutrition
Yams are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

One cup (136 grams) of baked yams provides 

Carbs: 37 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
C: 18% of the Daily Value (DV)
B5: 9% of the DV
Manganese: 22% of the DV
6% of the DV
Potassium: 19% of the DV
11% of the DV
23% of the DV
Folate: 6% of the DV
Yams are not only an excellent source of fiber but also high in potassium and manganese, which are important for supporting bone health, growth, metabolism, and heart function 

These tubers also provide decent amounts of other micronutrients, such as copper and vitamin C.

Copper is vital for red blood cell production and iron absorption, while vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can boost your immune system 


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


2. May enhance brain function
Eating yams may boost your brain.

In one 12-week study, people who took a yam extract supplement scored higher on a brain function test than those in the placebo group 

Yams contain a unique compound called diosgenin, which has been found to promote neuron growth and enhance brain function 

Diosgenin has also improved memory and learning abilities in mice in various maze tests

However, more research in this area is needed to fully understand how yams may benefit brain health.

Summary Yams contain a
unique compound called diosgenin, which may enhance memory and brain


3. May ease symptoms of menopause
Yams may help alleviate some symptoms of menopause.

In one 30-day study, 24 postmenopausal women switched from their staple food of rice to eating yams in 2 out of 3 meals (390 grams total) per day. Their blood levels of estrone and estradiol increased by 26% and 27%, respectively

Blood levels of estrone and estradiol — two estrogen hormones — typically decrease during menopause. Improving estrogen levels may ease menopause symptoms 

Yet, another six-month study found that topically applied wild yam cream had very little effect on menopause symptoms, such as flushing and night sweats, compared with a placebo 

Further research is needed to investigate the role that yams may have in relieving menopause symptoms.

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


4. May have cancer-fighting properties

Yams provide several antioxidants that may have anticancer properties

In an animal study, a yam-rich diet significantly reduced colon tumor growth. These effects were associated with the antioxidants present in yams, suggesting that these tubers may protect against cancer 

What’s more, a test-tube study found that extracts from Chinese yam, specifically the peel, inhibited liver tumor growth and offered antioxidant properties

However, research is limited, and studies have yet to test these effects in humans.

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


5. May reduce inflammation

The antioxidants in yams may help reduce inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of various conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity

Eating anti-inflammatory foods, such as yams, can help manage chronic inflammation

Several rat studies have observed that yam powder reduced inflammation related to several illnesses, including colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and stomach ulcers 

Still, more studies are needed to determine whether eating yams has the same anti-inflammatory effects in humans.

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


6. May improve blood sugar control

Yams may improve your blood sugar levels.

In one study, rats given yam powder or yam water extract experienced decreased fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, compared with the control groups. HbA1c is a measure of long-term blood sugar control 

Another study found that rats given higher amounts of purple yam extract showed reduced appetites, greater weight loss, and improved blood sugar control, compared with a control group (28).

Furthermore, another study in rats found that supplementing with yam flour reduced the rate of blood sugar absorption, which led to improved blood sugar control. These effects are attributed to the resistant starch and fiber in yams (29).

Resistant starch passes through your gut undigested. This type of starch is linked to various health benefits, including decreased appetite, as well as improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity (30Trusted Source).

Summary 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


7–10. Other potential benefits
Yams are associated with a number of other health benefits, including:

Improved digestive health. Studies indicate that the resistant starch in yams may increase digestive
enzymes that help break down food and increase the number of good bacteria
in your gut

Weight loss. One animal study found that yam
extract reduced food intake, suggesting that these tubers may help reduce appetite and improve weight loss. The fiber in yams may promote weight
loss as well (28).

effects. Though the exact mechanism is unknown, several
studies observe that yam extract may protect against certain
drug-resistant bacteria 

Improved cholesterol levels. In one study, women who ate 18 ounces (390 grams) of yams per day for 30 days experienced a 6% decrease in blood cholesterol levels 

Though yams’ rich nutritional content appears to provide numerous benefits, more human research is needed to study these effects in detail.

Summary 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.


11. Easy to add to your diet
Due to their versatility, it’s easy to add yams to your diet. They can be bought whole or as a powder, flour, and even supplement.

These delicious tubers can be baked, boiled, steamed, roasted, fried, and pan-cooked.

Yams can be enjoyed with or without the skin and used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Here are some common ways to enjoy yams:

Yam fries. Cut yams into wedges, add seasonings, and
bake or fry them.
Purée. Boil the tubers until soft, place in a blender, purée, and season them.
Yam chips. Thinly slice peeled yams and bake or fry them.
Mashed yams. Peel, boil, and mash your yams, then add milk and seasonings.
Baked yams. Bake cubed yams until tender.
Cheesy yam gratin. Thinly slice peeled yams and bake them with
cheese and seasonings.
Yam hash. Peel, dice, season, and then cook your yams
in a pan.
Add into baked goods. Use yam
purée to add moisture to breads and muffins.
Adding different seasonings to your yam dishes, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, or thyme, can diversify sweet and savory dishes.

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

The bottom line
Yams are nutrient-dense tuber vegetables that come in many colors.

They’re a great source of fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and antioxidants.

Yams are linked to various health benefits and may boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar control.

They’re versatile, easy to prepare, and a great vegetable to include in your diet in both sweet and savory dishes.



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