Yams are herbaceous perennial vines that are important for their richness in starch and significant amounts of vitamin C.
The common yam cooking methods include roasting, frying and boiling. Yams also have very high protein content. It is rich in potassium, manganese, thiamin and dietary fiber, which is important in preventing constipation.
Yams take about 6 to 10 months in order for full growth and are dormant for about 2 to 4 months depending on the species.
Yams have been attributed with a range of health benefits, some of which have been proven through scientific studies and methods. Here are 15 amazing health benefits of yams, according to science.
1. Eating Yams Every Week Can Aid Weight Loss
Yams will help you shed a few founds, if consumed right. The earnestness of losing weight and getting fit is not lost. So it’s time you ditch that negative talk about never having to feel fit and thin and reclaim yourself with the help of a healthy diet plant.
Yams contain dietary fiber that works as a staple to keep health in check while relieving triggers that drive you to eat unhealthy all the time.
A study conducted on water yams proved that an increase in protein and fiber-rich foods such as yams reduce temptation and fill up your stomach much faster than other kinds of foods. (1)
It also suggests that an increase in yam consumption can elevate metabolism for better food absorption. The functional properties of yams are much higher with regards to weight management than other kinds of vegetables.
Key Takeaway: The fact is that consumption of yams on a daily basis in moderate amounts can aid weight loss and weight management in most individuals.
2. Yams Contain Good Amounts Of Vitamin B6 That Prevent Vision Loss
Age-related vision loss is a severe problem for most seniors. But with foods like yams, it’s much easier to treat and prevent. Yams contain good amounts of vitamin B6 that lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration in older adults.
Increasing consumption of yams for its high vitamin B6 content may reverse signs of age-related eye problems in women more than men, a study suggests. (2)
Along with other remedial factors that include quitting smoking, a healthy diet for the prevention of oxidative stress is also essential. When there’s plenty of homocysteine levels in the body, it leads to the decay of blood vessel lining which is associated with age-related macular degeneration.
So to reverse the severe effects of this dysfunction, increased levels of vitamin B6 is required in the bloodstream.
Key Takeaway: People who ate vitamin B6-rich meals on a daily basis showed 34% lower risk of developing age-related vision loss. This further alleviates risks of developing chronic and irreversible eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
3. Yams Are Good For Healthy Brain Function
A diet including superfoods such as yams can seem like a dream come true for some of you. But with the right information and single-minded commitment to healthy eating, you can improve your mental and physical health.
Yams contain good amounts of thiamine levels in its making. This plays a major role in enhancing and regulating normal cognitive functions. Factors such as memory loss, mood swings, depression, and other neurodegenerative disorders can be linked with thiamine deficiency in the body.
It goes without saying that thiamine helps strengthen the relationship between neurons and other brains cells for proper function. These brain cells helps enhance the neuronal membrane for dealing with oxidative stress, free radical damage, and inflammation.
Thiamine also helps reduce risk of neuronal loss that is one of the leading factors of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s diseases, and so on. (3)
Key Takeaway: Brain-healthy yams reduce thiamine deficiency in the human body. It encourages proper brain function and eliminates oxidative stress associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
4. Yams Show A Positive Effect On Postmenopausal Women
Yams is one of the most effective foods for women with menopause. Postmenopausal health goes hand-in-hand with healthy lifestyle choices. Otherwise it leads to other severe illnesses such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and hormonal problems.
Making physical lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and intake of herbal medicines is very important for postmenopausal women. (4)
That said, yams are known for their antioxidant and high-nutrient content. All this powerful nutrients combine help alleviate sex hormone problems, lipids, and oxidative stress in women. A controlled study for 41 days proved that an increase in yam consumption may improve physical health and well-being alongside lower chances of developing cardiovascular diseases and breast cancer in women. (5)
Key Takeaway: According to authentic research, yams play a crucial role in regulating normal hormones and lipids in postmenopausal women. It’s a great choice for women experiencing hormonal changes and other bodily changes due to postmenopause.
5. Yams Are An Excellent Source Of Vitamin B6
Yams provide a reliable source of Vitamin B6 which the body needs in order to break down homocysteine which can cause damages to the blood vessel walls. High levels of this homocysteine can also cause heart attack. It is therefore believed that having good supply of vitamin B6 in the body perhaps reduces the risk of developing heart diseases to a high extent. (6)
Low intake of potassium may also lead to hypertension which can be controlled by Dioscorin. Dioscorin is a storage protein that is present in yams and that is known to be of much benefit to hypertensive people. It possesses aniotensin-converting enzyme which now leads to an increased kidney flow and a reduced blood pressure. (7)
Key Takeaway: Yams contain vitamin B6 which is highly needed by the body to break down homocysteine that causes damages to the blood vessel walls. It is therefore believed that having good supply of vitamin B6 in the body perhaps reduces the risk of developing heart diseases to a high extent.
6. The Nutrients Present In Yams Support Female Endocrine System
Women undergoing menopause are perhaps the most beneficiaries of yams. Menopause can be a real problem especially at elderly ages. Thanks to yams, you can control this problem. Yam can manage menopause symptoms due to its richness in progesterone and estrogen.
Yams also contain vitamin nutrients that regulate normal hormonal levels for a healthy endocrine system. That said, it promotes healthy pituitary glands, thymus, and pancreas to reduce inflammation and stress in the bloodstream. If left untreated, an unhealthy endocrine system may lead to autoimmune diseases, thyroid, chronic adrenal insufficiency. (8,9)
Yams contain an enzyme that naturally provides an alternative to hormonal replacement in women. Yam also supports the female endocrine system as its roots have been used together with lactation. Yams can also be used in preventing nausea during pregnancy periods. It is therefore a good option for the female system as it helps to balance the hormones.
Key Takeaway: Yams are rich in progesterone and estrogen which help in balancing hormonal imbalance and also decrease heavy bleeding.
7. Yams Contain Allantoin That Helps Heal Skin Diseases
For centuries and years, Yam has been used as traditional medicine in countries like China, Japan and Korea. Yams contain Allantoin, which is a cell proliferating that fastens and accelerates the healing process when it is applied typically on boils, ulcers and various skin diseases.
Yam also contains a high amount of antioxidants which protect the skin from harsh rays of the sun and environmental hazards. Yam stimulates the production of the skin collagen thus bringing smoothness and elasticity to your skin. It also helps in improving appearance of your skin and renews damaged skin. (10,11)
Key Takeaway: Yams contain Allantoin, which is a cell proliferating that fastens and accelerates the healing process when it is applied typically on boils, ulcers and various skin diseases.
8. Consuming Good Amounts Of Manganese and Copper Present In Yams Can Stimulate Proper Growth
Manganese, which can easily be found in yams, is useful for most of the enzymes that control blood sugar, thyroid function and energy metabolism. Yams are therefore important for patients of goiter infection as a cup of yam contains around 30 percent of the recommended value of manganese needed in the body.
It is therefore important that you have manganese in your body as having a deficiency of it may lead to growth retardation, impaired fertility, birth defects and general body weakness. It can also lead to anemia, hormonal imbalances, and low immunity. This also contributes to retarded growth. (12,13)
On the other hand, yams contain good amounts of copper that aid in energy production and development. You need normalized levels of copper in the bloodstream to prevent any physiological damage. People with copper deficiency can often suffer from neurodevelopmental delays, pigmentation of hair and skin, and homeostatic impair. (14)
Key Takeaway: Yams are a good source of manganese and copper which is of great use to certain enzymes that control blood sugar, thyroid function and energy metabolism. It also helps stimulate normal cognitive, immune, and bone development.
9. Yams Reduce Risk Of Low Red Blood Cell Count In The Bloodstream
Red blood cells are very important in the body as they supply blood throughout the body thus keeping us alive. Minerals such as copper and iron, which are present in yam, play major roles in the body. Copper for example is vital in the production of red blood cells. (15)
For more red blood cells to be produced, copper should be present in good amounts. This helps in improving blood flow in the body. Iron also improves the blood circulation in the body. Manganese, another nutrient found in yams, is put into use by the body as a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. (16)
Key Takeaway: Yams have in them minerals such as copper and iron which play major roles in the body. Copper for example is vital in the production of red blood cells while iron improves blood circulation in the body.
10. Yams Help Aid Metabolism With Its Metabolic B Vitamin Strength
Vitamin Bs play a very important role in stimulating proper metabolic systems. Vitamins including B1, B2, B6, etc. reduce inflammation, bacteria, and other infections in the gut, colon, and other digestive organs.
Similarly, foods such as yams, brown rice, and potatoes that contain high amounts of metabolic B vitamins. In terms of metabolism, they help increase energy required for quick metabolism rate. This also means proper weight management and nutrient absorption in the body. (17,18)
In a study published on the positive effects of certain compounds on gut bacteria found that glutathione, which is found in high amounts in yams, can also prevent oxidative stress. This leads to proliferation of gut bacteria causing a list of other metabolic diseases. (19)
With low levels of glycine, which plays an important role for glutathione absorption, the gut bacteria thrives. This may lead to the proliferation of chronic diseases such as fatty liver disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.
Key Takeaway: Yams are good sources of vitamins and glutathione that play a role in fighting metabolic diseases. It also reduces risk of oxidative stress in the body which is one of the leading causes of inflammatory and chronic diseases in the liver, kidneys, gut, and other digestive organs.
11. Yams Have Powerful Antioxidant Strength To Fight Diseases
Yams contain complex carbohydrates and also fiber which in the long run reduce or slow the rate at which sugars are released and absorbed in the mainstream. The fiber in yam not only gives you energy, but also prevents constipation issues. It also keeps you full without putting on the extra kilos. (20,21)
The therapeutic properties of yams due to its high antioxidant strength also help reduce risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and sclerosis. (22)
The manganese in yam aid carbohydrates metabolism and is quite important for the production of energy in the body and antioxidants. Each 100 grams of yam contains 118 calories. Yams are thus mainly composed of complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber also.
Yams contain vitamin C which is a powerful and natural water-soluble antioxidant. It helps the body to develop enough resistance against infectious germs or agents and also eliminates cancer-causing elements in the body. (23)
Key Takeaway: Yams contain complex carbohydrates and also fiber which in the long run reduce or slow the rate at which sugars are released and absorbed in the mainstream. It also contains powerful antioxidants that provide the body with the right level of energy needed to carry out different activities while fighting diseases.
12. The Dietary Fats Present in Yams Improve Physiological Functions
Believe it or not, dietary fats help stimulate proper bodily functions. Yams, already being good sources of fiber, low carbs, vitamins, and proteins, contain nutritious dietary fats.
Dietary fat, unlike trans fats, are not bad for the heart and neither do they increase inflammation in the body. In fact, they reduce cholesterol, repair damaged arteries, and heal chronic inflammation in the body. A sufficient intake of dietary fat helps in insulin resistance and may be to root cause of reduced atherosclerosis in humans. (24)
Another study showed that dietary fats increase physiological response in individuals. This has a direct effect on reducing risk of cancer and CVD in most adults. The study also showed that a higher intake of dietary fats can lead to proper stimulation of both genetic and dietary factors for the prevention of heart disease risk. (25)
Key Takeaway: It can be said that the dietary fats present in yams help prevent multiple diseases including cardiovascular disease, obesity, bone diseases, etc. It promotes a healthy heart and body by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
13. Eating Yams Helps Promote Proper Aging In Older Adults
For anti-aging benefits, you can also count on yams. aging can be quite disturbing especially if your aim is to look and feel young. Thanks to foods like yams therefore, aging can be delayed for a while thus helping you to maintain your shape and look.
Aging brings with it signs like pigmentation, wrinkles, sagging of skin, and sensitive skin. All these signs can be reduced, if not completely prevented with an increase diet in yams. Yams contain compounds that enhance collagen in the skin cells. This prevents sagging and wrinkling of skin.
Yams contain good amounts of diosgenin that helps restore damaged skin cells and enhances DNA synthesis for healthy aging. Other nutrients include saponins that enhance skin color for glowing and even skin. (26,27)
Key Takeaway: Yams contain amazing skin friendly nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, Carotene and antioxidants that reduce wrinkles and other aging signs also.
14. Yams Promote A Healthy Diet To Fight Cancer Cells In The Body
Certain types of cancer such as breast cancer can be prevented with an intake of yam. In regards to scientific studies, yams increase progesterone activity and inhibit growth and reproduction of the breast cancer cells. (28)
The dietary fiber in yams prevents colon cancer by preventing toxic compounds in the food from adhering to the colon. The study showed that an increase in fiber diet can show signs of reduced tumor enhancement. So dietary fiber does show from protective qualities against the proliferation of cancer cells in the body. (29)
Vitamin A in yam gives protection from lung and oral cavity cancer. It also protects the body against the development of ovarian cancer with better recovery from chemotherapy in cancer patients. Vitamin A reduces growth of human tumor xenografts in mice, thus acting as a powerful chemoprotective agent for different types of cancer. (30)
Key Takeaway: Yams increase progesterone activity and inhibit growth and reproduction of the different types of cancer. It also helps enhance DNA synthesis to fight against oxidative cancer cells and inhibits production of tumors in the body.
15. The Vitamins Present In Yams Improve Hair Growth
Yam is perhaps one of the best sources of natural health promoting compounds that promote hair growth. These compounds include beta carotene that offers safer and healthier hair growth stimulation as compared to chemicals that may cause even more harm.
Yams also contain vitamin A that is of high cell growth benefit which includes the growth of hair. Beta carotene deficiency in the body may lead to dull, dry and lifeless hair which later flakes off into dandruff. (31)
Yams have iron which helps the red blood cells in transporting oxygen throughout the body. This includes promoting the blood circulation in the scalp. If you have iron deficiency in your body, you may experience hair loss and baldness that happens in both men and women. Thus to prevent hair loss and to promote hair growth, you should take more yams. (32)
Vitamin A present in yam helps to produce, reproduce and protect the oil in the scalp. The scalp needs to be hydrated and the oil keeps it hydrated. It will also prevent the hair from falling off due to breakage and keep the mane silky and shiny.
Key Takeaway: Multiple studies show that yams, containing good amounts of iron and vitamins, helps control hair loss. Deficiency of iron or vitamin A in the body can lead to severe hair loss as the body lacks enough hemoglobin to provide proper nutrition to hair follicles. This impairs hair growth and leads to an irregular hair growth cycle.
7 Delicious Yam Recipes
Yams have different ways of preparation and cooking. They are easy and quick to prepare, which is great news. Each recipe is unique and thus offers a distinctive taste. And that’s why yams are a part of many people’s daily diet. So let’s look at the seven most popular recipes of yams for you to try.
1. Spicy Yam Soup With An African Twist
It consists of a blend of everyday ingredients that yield a spicy and delicious taste. Plus, the dish takes not more than 40-45 minutes to create.
1 onion chopped
1 tsp of vegetable oil
4 cups of chicken broth
1 peeled yam, diced
1 minced clove of garlic
1 tsp of dried thyme
1/2 tsp of ground cumin
1 cup of chunky salsa
1 cup of diced zucchini
1/2 cup of cooked rice
2 tbsp of peanut butter
1 drained can of garbanzo beans
Heat oil on a stock pot using medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, and yam. Wait for the onion to become soft. You can reduce the heat to prevent the food from burning.
Stir in cumin, thyme, and chicken broth. Bring them to boil before covering and simmering for not more than 15 minutes.
Now is the time to bring in the salsa, zucchini, and garbanzo beans. Finally, simmer until it is tender. This will take another 15 minutes.
For the last step, add peanut butter and cooked rice. The peanut butter should dissolve completely before you serve the dish with green salad and pita chips.
2. Avocado Stuffed Yams
This is another simple but incredibly healthy and delicious yam recipe. The spicy avocado topping is a pleasant contrast to the hot and sweet yams.
1 bell pepper (red), diced and seeded
4 (8 ounce) yams
2 peeled, pitted avocados (mashed)
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
3 tbsp lime juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the yams on baking sheet.
Following which bake the yams for around 40 minutes. During this time, they will become tender. Then set them aside.
Mix the avocado, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, cilantro, green onions, and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl.
Slice the yams in two equal parts, fluffing the center using a fork. Place avocado stuffing on top and season. At this point, you can also bring in the shredded cheese.
After around one hour, the meal will be ready to serve.
3. Golden-Colored Yam Brownies
A moist and flavorful way of enjoying yams. Golden-colored yam brownies are the kind of desserts that give you a taste of heaven.
1 cup of butter
1 cup of white sugar
1 and half cups of flour
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of brown sugar
2 tbsp of butter or margarine
2 cups of peeled, shredded yam
1 cup of confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp of milk
First, preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius. The second step is to grease a baking dish.
Next, bring together brown sugar, white sugar, and butter. Cream all this together until the blend becomes smooth.
Now it’s time to bring in the eggs. Beat them well enough before adding vanilla. Then combine salt, baking powder, and flour. Stir them thoroughly to create a smooth batter. At this point, you can fold in the yam. Now that it’s all ready, evenly spread this batter in the baking dish.
Let it bake for around 30 minutes. The best way to check if it’s done is by inserting a toothpick into the dish. You can do it in the center region. If the toothpick slides out clean, then you know it’s done.
Following which bring together butter, milk, and confectioners’ sugar. Beat the blend to a create a smooth texture. Time to lay it out on the warm brownies. They tend to absorb the glaze.
The whole process takes around 1 hour after which the dessert is ready to be served hot.
4. Roasted Yam Salad With Kale
This salad offers a contrast in flavors which makes it a favorite among many. The yams have a super sweetness that contour nicely with onions and kales.
2 jewel yams, chopped into cubes of 1 inch
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sliced onion
Salt and black pepper (freshly ground)
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 bunch of kale, torn into small pieces
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp vinegar, red wine type
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together yams and olive oil. Add the seasoning before placing everything on the baking sheet.
Then bake it to make the yams tender. This procedure can take about 20-25 minutes. Thereafter you can cool the dish in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile as you wait for the cooling process, heat a tbsp of olive oil on a skillet. Bring in the garlic and onion at this point. Cook them until the color of the onions turn into golden brown. This procedure can go up to around 15 minutes.
Add kale to the skillet and cook till it becomes tender and wilted. After that, place this mixture into another bowl before cooling it in your refrigerator.
When both the bowlfuls of food have cooled, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Finally, add some seasoning while stirring it at the same time. And there you go, your delicious salad is ready!
5. Yam Casserole
This is the ultimate yam recipe, even for people who don’t like yams.
4 pounds of yams
2 tbsp of butter, melted
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp of ground allspice
6 ounces of pecan halves
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Using a fork, poke the yams in different spots before cooking them in your microwave oven on maximum power. During this time, they become nice and soft. This procedure can take around 20 minutes. After cooling, remove the skins of the yams before placing them in a bowl.
Beat the yams until they are smooth. Then add the eggs to the mixture. Please make sure that you beat the eggs well enough.
Now is the time to add the remaining ingredients. This includes brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter. Continue beating until the mixture gains a light, fluffy texture.
At this point, you can transfer the whole set of ingredients to the casserole dish. Now create one layer of pecans at the top. You can add some more brown sugar along with melted butter.
Finally, let it bake for not more than 25 minutes in your preheated oven. The goal is to let the dish turn bubbly and brown. And once that happens, it’s time to dig in!
6. Spicy Yam Tacos With Turkey
You can use yams with turkey to make your favorite spicy tacos even hotter and more flavory.
1 peeled yam, diced
3/4 pound of ground turkey
1 minced clove of garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
4 seeded jalapeno peppers, minced
1 tbsp of chili powder
1/2 cup chopped onion (sweet onion)
1 tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup of tomatillo salsa
16 flour tortillas
Place the yam that has been diced in a microwave-friendly bowl and place it in your microwave. Cook until it becomes tender, stirring only once. This procedure can take close to 6-7 minutes.
Coat a skillet using olive oil and place it over moderate heat. It’s time to cook the turkey until it crumbles and turns brown. This will take 5-7 minutes.
Stir the jalapeno pepper, garlic, and onion into the dish and continue cooking till you see the onions turn to golden brown. This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Then bring in the Cajun seasoning, cumin, and chili powder along with salt. Thereafter top it off with salsa before placing the yams in the dish.
Let everything cook until the excessive moisture evaporates. Then garnish with cilantro. You can now serve the dish with tortillas.
7. Coconut, Leek, And Yam Soup
Characterized by a delightful combination of flavors, this recipe is easy, quick and perfect for vegetarians.
1 tbsp of coconut oil
2 peeled yams, cubed
1 carrot, sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 minced clove of garlic
Juice of a Meyer lemon
1 can of coconut milk
1 container of vegetable broth
1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped
Kosher salt (optional)
Heat coconut oil on a large-sized pot over moderate heat. Add the yams to this and coat them with oil. Thereafter cook till they become light brown on each side. Add the carrot and stir for a minute.
Bring in the garlic and leek. Then cook until you get a whiff of the delicious fragrance. At this point, you can add the coriander and cumin and stir to evenly distribute them.
Pour vegetable broth, coconut milk, and lemon juice into the cooking pot. Stir to bring everything together.
Once the soup starts to boil, reduce the heat. Then simmer the soup and cover it. Wait for the carrots to become tender, which should not take more than 15 minutes. Finally, add the freshly ground seasoning to finish.
Pour the soup into medium-sized serving bowls. You can garnish each bowl with fresh spinach.
Wrapping It Up
Yams provide different health benefits to the user as seen above. Apart from its delicious nature also as seen through the variety of recipes of preparations, yams give to the user more than just flavor and sweetness. Yams contain a variety of nutrients and minerals fit for the body’s growth and normal functioning.
These Vitamins include vitamin A, C and B6 among others. Yams also have dietary fiber that ensures proper digestion and prevents constipation. There are also a variety of minerals in yams that include potassium and manganese that also have huge roles to play in the human body.
The intake of yams is therefore very important for the body and thus you should have more of it.
For those who find yam not quite delicious when prepared normally, be sure to change your mind once you try out one of those recipes for the preparation of yams. You should therefore find ways on how to incorporate this vegetable in your diet for a healthier and stronger body.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.