A yam is a vegetable which is similar to the sweet potato. Yams come from Africa, South America and the Mediterranean. Yams tend to be sweeter than the sweet potato and they provide various nutritional components. Yams are considered a “super food” because of their dense nutrients. There are hundreds of varieties of yams and many ways you can cook them. This article focuses on the nutrition of yams and the benefits of including them in your diet.
Yams contain approximately 30% of your daily vitamin C requirements. Vitamin C protects your body from cell damage and disease. Vitamin C can also reduce inflammation in the body. In this way, yams can be a good healing vegetable if you are an athlete or suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis or cystitis.
The dietary fiber in yams is approximately six grams per medium sized yam. The fiber in yams can help prevent cholesterol build up in your arteries. In this way, the fiber in yams increases cardiovascular health and reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. Dietary fiber can also assist with weight loss by making you feel fuller and reducing the absorption of some fats.
Yams contain vast amounts of B vitamins; mostly in the form of B6. Vitamin B6 is necessary to protect blood vessels and the heart. Vitamin B6 facilitates the breakdown of the amino acid, homocysteine. Too much homocysteine in the blood can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. Vitamin B6 is also important for mood regulation and energy. If you don’t get enough vitamin B6, you might feel tired and depressed. Vitamin B6 can also hinder weight loss efforts if you are deficient, because it is important for metabolizing other nutrients. One serving of yams can give you 15% of your vitamin B6 requirement.
Yams are a healthy source of carbohydrates which can be categorized as vegetable starch and fiber. The carbohydrates you get from yams will provide you with long-lasting energy. Yams are low on the glycemic Index, so they won’t elevate blood sugar and then cause you to “crash.” The carbohydrates found in yams are healthy for weight loss and overall nutrition.
The potassium in yams can promote healthy blood pressure. In order to maintain a healthy blood pressure, you need to maintain a balance of sodium and potassium. Yams provide you with 25% of your recommended value of potassium. Because there is so much sodium in the typical American diet, it is much more common to be deficient in potassium than sodium. Eating yams will help you maintain this necessary balance.
These are some of the major nutritional components of yams. You can get the nutritional benefits of yams by baking them, frying them or roasting them. One serving of yams is approximately equal to one cup chopped or one medium yam. Use yams where you would normally use protein or potatoes. Yams are available in many grocery stores or natural food stores throughout the United States.