9 Potential Health And Nutrition Benefits Of Eating Yams

From digestive health to immunity, the nutrients in this veggie can take care of all.

Medically reviewed by Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN Alexandra Dusenberry Alexandra DusenberryMS, RDN twitter_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Senior Health & Wellness Writer Sindhu Koganti Senior Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 6 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Ravi Teja Tadimalla Senior Editor Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , Health & Wellness Writer Moksha Gandhi Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 2 years
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Yam has been a part of alternative medicine for ages. There are several benefits of yam. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and wild yam extract is also used in skin care products (1).

A survey conducted on 4503 Americans found that 60% liked the vegetable. Out of the total participants, 62% of women and 59% of men respectively liked yams. Furthermore, the popularity of yam is 62%, 61%, and 57% among baby boomers, millennials, and Gen X, respectively.

Yams have 158 calories per cup (136 grams). Moreover, it has around 5 g of dietary fiber, 17 mg of vitamin C, and 19 mg of calcium (2). As a result, yam can promote fertility, relieve symptoms associated with menopause, and help manage weight and diabetes.

According to research, yams may lower obesity rates and boost immunity (3). This article discusses the benefits of yams, their nutritional profile, and their risks. Scroll down.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Yam

What Is It?
A herbaceous plant species that produces edible tubers.

What Are Its Benefits?
It aids in skin health improvement. Being rich in fiber, it helps in weight loss and blood glucose control. It is also used to fight infertility and inflammation, and relieve menopause symptoms.

Who Can Consume It?
Anyone can consume this ingredient safely.

How Often?
Can be consumed in moderation, as part of a healthy diet.

Caution
Wild yams may contain toxins and should not be consumed.

Types Of Yams

Yams are a popular starchy root vegetable that comes in various types. The two most common varieties are the African yam (Dioscorea cayenensis) and the Asian yam (Dioscorea alata).

African yams are known for their large size, rough, bark-like skin, and white, starchy flesh. They are a staple in many African cuisines and are often consumed fried or pounded to prepare fufu.

Conversely, Asian yams have smoother, thinner skin and come in a variety of colors, including purple, orange, and white. They tend to be sweeter and are used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as casseroles and desserts.

Additionally, there are lesser-known yam varieties like the Chinese yam and wild yam. All these varieties are packed with many beneficial nutrients that give them a host of health benefits. Keep reading to discover them.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Yams?

Are yams good for you? Yes, they are among the most flavorsome vegetables you can eat. As root vegetables that have been around for ages, yams also have a long history of use in alternative medicine. The roots and rhizomes of yam particularly contribute to its benefits.

1. May Promote Skin Health

Yams are rich in diosgenin, a plant steroid that fights against skin aging in women at the time of menopause. An in vivo animal studies on mice has found that the administration of diosgenin improves the epidermal thickness in ovariectomized mice without altering the degree of fat accumulation (4).

However, more research is required to understand the skin benefits of yams on humans.

2. May Aid Weight Loss

Yam benefits woman measuring her slim waist
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Glucomannan, a fiber extracted from the roots of yam, may help with weight loss. At doses of 2-4 g per day, this fiber turns into a gel that ling1ers in the stomach, making you feel full (5). Thus, it can keep your cravings at bay and eventually lead to weight loss.

Oliver, a blogger, wrote about how he has incorporated yam into his daily diet. He wrote, “For carbs; only whole grain pasta, whole grain rice, and baked yam (i).” This has helped in his journey to lose weight.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Yam is also known as Elephant foot yam, as its plant is quite large and resembles an elephant’s foot.

3.May Promote Fertility

A research study shows that yams have the potential to promote fertility (6).

Lately, natural hormones are becoming popular options for hormone replacement therapy. Creams containing wild yam extracts are emerging as the ideal choice for some women. “Natural” progesterone is commonly derived from an inedible, wild, Mexico-produced yam called Dioscorea uillosa.

4. May Relieve Menopause Symptoms

Yam benefits woman experiencing menopause symptoms
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Diosgenin, a substance in wild yam, is used to treat sex hormone issues. It is also used to produce contraceptives and relieve the symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome. A study conducted at the Baker Medical Research Institute (Australia) has found that this substance could relieve menopausal symptoms without any side effects (7).

Traditional medication acknowledges that yams contain important compounds that are significantly advantageous for issues like menopause and premenstrual syndrome. Additionally, a study conducted at the National Taiwan Normal University showed that the ingestion of yam can boost the status of sex hormones, lipids, and other antioxidants in postmenopausal women (8).

5. May Aid Diabetes Treatment

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Diabetes is caused by a decrease or deficiency in insulin secretion (or from increased cellular resistance to insulin). A study conducted on rats found that yam can contribute to the improvement of glucose metabolism (9). However, more research is required to verify this benefit in humans.

Additionally, the sugar in yams adds a natural sweetness to your meals and reduces your craving for sugar.

Yam and its active constituent, allantoin, can modulate oxidative stress. They also boost liver function, thereby maintaining insulin and glucose levels (10). Further, with the increased fiber content, yam helps in the elimination of cholesterol from the body, thus helping maintain heart health by preventing atherosclerosis.

6. May Fight Inflammation

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The outer bark of the wild yam root is rich in a compound called saponin. Saponins may help fight inflammation. Thus, yams may combat inflammation and help relax (and even treat) your abdominal and pelvic muscles. The antioxidant property of saponins may also help reduce inflammation related to various diseases (11).

7. May Help Prevent Cancer

A study conducted on rats noted the ability of the diosgenin in yams to prevent carcinogenesisi  XIt refers to the procedure by which healthy cells in the body turn into malignant or cancerous cells. by acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. The study concludes by stating that yam can be useful in cancer prevention (12).

The same study also found that a yam-enriched diet can significantly reduce colon tumor growth. However, more research is required in this area to understand this effect of yams on humans (12).

8. May Enhance Brain Function

Yams are rich in potassium. Potassium promotes the brain’s nerve activity and cognitive functioning (13). Yams are also abundant in diosgenin, a unique compound that is known for brain health and improving neuron growth. Additionally, it has been found to contribute to enhanced memory and learning skills in mice (14). However, more research is required in this area to understand this effect on humans.

9. May Improve Digestive Health

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Yams are packed with resistant starches, soluble glycoprotein, and dietary fiber that aids in improved digestion. Studies have also shown that yams may stimulate the proliferation of gastric epithelial cells and enhance digestive enzyme activities in the small intestine (15).

protip_icon Trivia
Ancient Ayurvedic texts suggest that consuming yam juice may relieve indigestion and manage enlarged liver, tapeworm, and hemorrhoidsi  XStraining during bowel movements that can result in swollen, irritated veins in the rectum and anus, which become painful and bleed. .

These are the major benefits of yams. You saw a few of the essential nutrients in the vegetable that contribute to its benefits. Well, there are more you must know.

What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Yams?

Yams are packed with fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They are rich in copper, manganese, and potassium.

Vitamins
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Vitamin A207IU4%
Vitamin C25.6mg43%
Vitamin D
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)0.5mg3%
Vitamin K3.4mcg4%
Thiamin0.2mg11%
Riboflavin0.0mg3%
Niacin0.8mg4%
Vitamin B60.4mg22%
Folate34.5mcg9%
Vitamin B120.0mcg0%
Pantothenic Acid0.5mg5%
Choline24.8mg
Betaine
Minerals
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calcium25.5mg3%
Iron0.8mg4%
Magnesium31.5mg8%
Phosphorus82.5mg8%
Potassium1224mg35%
Sodium13.5mg1%
Zinc0.4mg2%
Copper0.3mg13%
Manganese0.6mg30%
Selenium1.1mcg2%
Fluoride
Carbohydrates
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Total Carbohydrate41.8g14%
Dietary Fiber6.1g25%
Starch
Sugars0.7g
Protein & Amino Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Protein2.3g5%
Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calories177(741 kJ)9%
From Carbohydrate169(708 kJ)
From Fat2.1(8.8 kJ)
From Protein6.4(26.8 kJ)
From Alcohol0.0(0.0 kJ)

This is an impressive nutritional profile, isn’t it? Does this mean anybody can have as many yams as they please? Probably not.

What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Too Many Yams?

Yams are a great source of nutrition. However, wild forms of yams contain some toxins that taste bitter and are, hence, referred to as bitter yams. These should not be consumed.

Bitter yams contain compounds that act as water-soluble alkaloids, which can cause serious symptoms upon ingestion. Severe cases of alkaloid intoxication may even prove fatal (16).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid consuming yam if you have a cold, asthma, or bronchitisi  XA respiratory tract infection that affects the airways within the lungs, causing coughing, and congestion. , as it may further cool down the body, aggravating the symptoms.

Infographic: The Healing Power Of Yam: An Overview Of Its Health Benefits

Yams are root vegetables with a long history in alternative medicine. They are packed with many essential vitamins and minerals that help treat various ailments. While there are many benefits of yams, we have covered the most significant ones in the infographic below. Check it out!

the healing power of yams(infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Yams are nutritious root vegetables that have been part of folk medicine for ages. They are packed with essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and potent antioxidants. The benefits of yams include better digestive and cognitive health. They also have been shown to promote diabetes and weight management. weight loss and diabetes management. Yams may boost fertility and alleviate premenstrual syndrome and menopause symptoms too. However, excess consumption may cause a few side effects due to potential alkaloid intoxication. If you experience any adverse effects, limit your consumption and seek medical advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat raw yams? How can you cook yams?

Raw yams are not edible and cannot be digested. These must be sprouted or cooked to be edible.
You can cook yams by boiling, roasting, and frying. You can also use them in preparing desserts.

What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?

Yams are starchy, edible tubers with a taste drier than a sweet potato. These tubers are rough and scaly to touch.
Sweet potatoes have a tender skin and are sweet-tasting with a moist texture.

How long do yams last?

When properly stored, raw yams will last for about 5 to 7 days at normal room temperature. To maximize their shelf life, store them in cool temperatures in a dark area. Under such conducive storage conditions, yams will last about a month.

Are yams fattening?

Yams are excellent sources of vitamin B6, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. With just 157 calories in a cup, yams can be an excellent option if you’re trying to lose weight.
The natural fiber in yams helps slow down the rate at which your body processes sugar, keeping you from feeling hungry between meals.
So, yams are not fattening if consumed in the ideal dosage.

How to store yams?

Among the widely available roots and tubers, yams are considered the least perishable. They are generally stored fresh. Successful storage of yams requires proper curing, ideally combined with some fungicide treatment. Exposure to enough sunlight to rid the moisture that is generated by the respiration of the tubers. Regular scrutiny during storage and elimination of rotten tubers. Protection from direct sunlight and rain. Apart from all these, the predominant factor that determines the shelf life of the tuber is the length of its natural dormancy period (17).

Can you freeze yams?

Storing yams at a lower temperature decreases their respiration rate. Temperatures below 12°C can cause damage by chilling. This leads to a breakdown of internal tissues, resulting in increased water loss and making them more susceptible to decay.

Can I eat yams every day?

You can eat yams every day if you like. They are good sources of vitamin C – meeting 27% of the daily recommended value of the nutrient. Yams help fight infections, such as cold and flu and accelerate wound healing. They also boost the immune system and help delay premature aging.

How do you tell the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?

The skin of yam looks like tree bark, while the sweet potato is more reddish-brown.

Are yams sweeter than sweet potatoes?

No, sweet potatoes are sweeter than yams.

Does purple yam make you fat?

Yes, the complex carbohydrates in purple yam can make you gain weight.

Key Takeaways

  • Yam may help promote hair growth and aid in weight loss.
  • It also helps fight inflammation and manages blood sugar levels.
  • Yam is rich in potassium, which helps improve brain function.
  • Consuming yams may cause alkaloid intoxication due to the presence of water-soluble alkaloids.
yam benefits

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team


Get ready to uncover the numerous health benefits and fascinating nutrient facts of yams. Delve into the world of yams with this informative video!

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Skin Ageing: Natural Weapons and Strategies, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569896/
  2. Yam, cooked, boiled, drained, or baked, without salt, FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170072/nutrients
  3. The Supplementation of Yam Powder Products Can Give the Nutritional Benefits of the Antioxidant Mineral (Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe and Se) Intakes, Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866735/
  4. Novel effects of diosgenin on skin aging, Steroids, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19428439
  5. Glucomannan and obesity: a critical review, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16320857
  6. What’s in a yam? Clues to fertility a student discovers, Yale School of Medicine.
    https://medicine.yale.edu/news/yale-medicine-magazine/article/whats-in-a-yam-clues-to-fertility-a/
  7. Effects of wild yam extract on menopausal symptoms, lipids and sex hormones in healthy menopausal women, Climacteric, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11428178
  8. Estrogenic effect of yam ingestion in healthy postmenopausal women, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16093400
  9. Yam contributes to improvement of glucose metabolism in rats, Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19629697
  10. Antidiabetic effects of yam and its (Dioscorea batatas) and Its Active Constituent, Allantoin, in a Rat Model of Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetes, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632431/
  11. Metabolic and functional diversity of saponins, biosynthetic intermediates and semi-synthetic derivatives, Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266039/
  12. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of yam (Dioscorea batatas Decne.) on Azoxymethane-induced Colonic Aberrant Crypt Foci in F344 Rats, Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103732/
  13. Potassium signalling in the brain: its role in behaviour, Neurochemistry International, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10732995
  14. Diosgenin-Rich Yam Extract Enhances Cognitive Function: A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized, Double-Blind, Crossover Study of Healthy Adults, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5691776/
  15. Roots and Tuber Crops as Functional Foods: A Review on Phytochemical Constituents and Their Potential Health Benefits, International Journal of Food Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4834168/
  16. siatic bitter yam intoxication, Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025322/
  17. Phases of dormancy in yam tubers (Dioscorea rotundata), Annals of Botany, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803652/
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